February 11, 2019
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Democratic leaders speak at packed Lobby Lunch

Dozens of business representatives joined a big crowd from Class 41 of the AgForestry Leadership program last Thursday for the second Lobby Lunch of the year. Top legislative Democrats spoke about their priorities for the year and responded to questions from employers.

The biggest task, of course, is writing the state's next two-year budget, but many other looming issues face lawmakers, said House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington; Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle; and, Deputy House Majority Leader Larry Springer, D-Kirkland.

They include mental health and the opioid crisis; housing affordability and homelessness; funding for students with special needs; the extinction threat faced by the Southern Resident orca whale population and more.

During a Q&A, business leaders asked about what feels like an assault on the business community to solve a variety of societal challenges, and an overwhelming number of environmental-related bills, among other concerns.

Sullivan acknowledged there is a “pent-up demand” in the House from many members of the caucus that have the environment as their top priority.

Creating a new state capital gains tax is one of the proposals to help pay for these ambitious new programs. Backers say it would be aimed solely at the wealthy, but small-business owners have shared concerns about how it would impact their retirement when they go to sell their business.

Springer acknowledged that concern and hinted at some progress in that area.

“We are aware of that, and we’re starting to turn some dials...to see if we can adjust that,” he said.

Saldaña also commended AWB’s Bob Battles for his openness and frankness as he represents the employer community in the Legislature.

Olympia Business Watch blog covered last week’s Lobby Lunch. A video of the discussion is available online.

AWB’s Lobby Lunch will continue throughout the 2019 legislative session at the AWB offices, located at 1414 Cherry Street SE in Olympia.

Republican leaders will speak this week: Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm.

Lobby Lunch is open to current AWB members. The cost is $25. To register for an upcoming Lobby Lunch, contact Liv Johnson via email or at 360.943.1600. Registrations are due by 5 p.m. of the Monday before each Thursday event.

AWB Lobby Lunch 2019 #2 - Democratic Leadership from Association of WA Business on Vimeo.

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