December 2, 2019
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L&I approves small workers' comp rate decrease

Employers will see the amount they pay for workers' compensation drop, on average, by 0.8% next year, although specific industries will see different rates of increase or decrease.

Under the lower 2020 rate, employers will pay an average of about $15 less per employee for a year of workers' compensation coverage, according to the Department of Labor & Industries. As a result of the reduction, as a group, employers will pay $21 million less in premiums next year.

AWB said the small decrease was welcome news, but noted that there has been a troublesome trend in recent years of L&I and the state diverting workers' compensation taxes into funds that aren't directly connected with helping injured employees.

"Washington remains one of the most expensive states in the country for workers' compensation insurance, so any reduction is a step in the right direction," said AWB President Kris Johnson. "We remain concerned, however, about the diversion of workers' compensation funds in recent years. Rather than setting aside these funds solely to help injured works, the state has been using a portion for other programs. This raises the cost of workers' compensation insurance."



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Cross-laminated timber can help the Northwest lead on the Green New Deal

By Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco and his director of communications, Conor Bronsdon

We live in a region of pioneers and conservationists in a land built on the back of the timber industry. The idea of sustainable working forests fits not just our historical industrial strengths, it fits our regional ethos. In the Pacific Northwest, we want to live green. It's time for Seattle to take the lead on mass timber. With cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other mass timber products we can move to solve our housing crisis, develop needed density, and address climate change -- all while staying true to our regional culture and history.

By using CLT in the development of much-needed housing we will actively remove and store carbon from the atmosphere -- every cubic meter of timber growth captures one ton of carbon from the atmosphere. Construction would simultaneously emit less carbon.

Encouraging CLT usage could also jump-start stalled rural economies that have languished since the logging industry slowed down. Construction startup Katerra opened the nation's largest capacity CLT manufacturing facility in Spokane and Vaagen Brothers Lumber, which has been in Washington for four generations, is expanding CLT production operations in Colville. With the state making code changes fall that allow for the use of mass timber in buildings as tall as 18 stories, the region is primed to use CLT to address our affordable housing crisis.

Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
A more resilient workforce

Prepare students for technical careers

By The Seattle Times editorial board

Once, all it took to secure a satisfying and well-paying job was a high school diploma and a good work ethic. But that story has largely changed.

That's why Washington's public schools must offer robust, high-quality Career and Technical Education programs to help prepare the state's vocationally minded students for career success.

A college education should be within reach of all students with the aptitude and interest to pursue a four-year degree, but not everyone wants to follow that path. At the same time, there is a high and consistent workforce demand for skilled tradespeople, without whom Washington's economy would shudder to a halt.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times.