February 12, 2018
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AWB Government Affairs team gives mid-session update; listen to it on AWB's new podcast channel

AWB's Government Affairs team gave a quick but comprehensive look at the legislative landscape during a live video webinar last week. AWB members from around the state tuned in and asked questions about where major legislative issues stand at the halfway point of the 60-day session.

Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs, noted that it has been an unusually busy session for what is supposed to be an off year. More than 1,000 new bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate, he said, plus those carried over from last year.

AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson discussed health care, education and workforce development, including proposed changes to last year's bipartisan agreement to fully fund basic education.

There is also a move to increase funding for career and technical education, mainly vocational education for rural areas, she said.

Mary Catherine McAleer, AWB government affairs director, delivered an update on environmental policy, especially the push this year for a carbon tax. She discussed the latest revisions to Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon tax proposal, as well as a separate push for a low-carbon fuel standard that would -- like the carbon tax -- increase the cost of fuel.

Clay Hill, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy, noted that while there is a push in the Legislature to increase state tax revenue or increase the “progressivity” of the tax code, AWB is urging a legislative focus instead on competitiveness, innovation and job growth.

AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis discussed transportation and infrastructure policy, including such topics as reforms to the State Building Code Council and changes to hydraulic permits. He also said that the proposed low-carbon fuel standard would roll back a key compromise that enabled the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package -- and that protecting all aspects of that package is the number one focus of AWB's Transportation Legislative Objective.

Ennis also touched on rural broadband, noting that increasing access to high-speed internet was one of the topic needs identified during AWB's Rural Jobs Summits last year.

Bob Battles, AWB government affairs director for workplace and labor laws, discussed the many bills still in play on topics such as pay equity, workers' compensation, sexual harassment policies, and non-compete agreements.

The full legislative update is available to download. In your podcast app, search for "The AWB Podcast" and click "subscribe." The audio of this and other AWB recordings is also available on AWB's new Audio page.

For an update on a specific issue, contact the Government Affairs issue experts.

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A Backdoor Gas Tax Increase

Inslee's carbon tax bill unfair to middle class

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Senate Bill 6203 will burden some people more than others, and that isn't fair.

The proposal -- also known as the carbon tax bill -- would impose an additional $10 per metric ton on carbon dioxide emissions in 2019. The amount would increase over time to $30 per metric ton by 2029.

The money raised would go to clean energy efforts and projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also might encourage more people to buy vehicles that don't run solely on fossil fuel, Inslee said.

But adding that extra tax will mean gas prices will go up, and so will heating bills.

An analysis by the Washington Policy Center estimates the average family will spend $125 more on gasoline per year in 2019, and $375 more a year in 2029 if the tax is approved...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
Supporting all Washington Manufacturers

Equal footing for economic growth

By The Kitsap Sun Editorial Board

On the whole our state's B&O is seen as a misguided tax by many, since its collections are based on gross rather than net profits, and cities, including here in Kitsap, have been working to minimize its impact on small businesses by gradually lowering local B&O rates. It's a particular tax reform that's generally helpful to small business without creating an unaccountable giveaway that hurts public coffers, when implemented wisely.

Last summer's state budget agreement included a provision to expand the lower state B&O rate beyond the aerospace sector, applying it to all manufacturers. The provision, pushed by the Republican caucus but agreed to by Democrats in budget negotiations, wouldn't have completely eliminated state B&O, but it would have put all manufacturers on equal footing. That's a fair request in a state where Boeing and aerospace receive a deserved share of economic credit but aren't the only engine driving our future.

The measure was vetoed by Gov. Jay Inslee, who stated at the time he disagreed with being caught off-guard by its inclusion in a budget deal. In our view that was disappointing, given the work that went into the agreement, but this session the idea is back -- actually, two versions of it are. Competing Senate bills were in the Ways and Means committee as of Friday, both of which would gradually lower the B&O rate for all manufacturers to what's paid by the aerospace industry to the tune of about $64 million over the next four years...

Read the full editorial in The Kitsap Sun
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