June 12, 2017
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Top Stories

Second special session day 21, still no budget deal; preliminary economic and revenue forecast released

The regular 105-day session and first 30-day special session have come and gone without agreement on a two-year state operating budget. Meanwhile, the preliminary economic and revenue forecast was released last week, which is a precursor to the June 20 quarterly forecast that some believe may give lawmakers additional tax dollars -- and require a third special session -- to craft a budget and adjourn before the fiscal year deadline of June 30.

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Two Washington counties, Grays Harbor and Klickitat, will have no ACA insurance plans available in 2018

Washington is now the third state where residents of some areas will have zero health insurance options available in Affordable Care Act exchanges, the only place where federal subsidies are available.

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AWB testifies in support of Vancouver Energy project permit

The Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council held a full day of hearings last week about the draft clean air permit for the Vancouver Energy Project. AWB joined workers who support the project, which would expand the region's infrastructure and help replace imported foreign oil with domestic production.

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Leadership Washington application deadline extended to June 30

There is still time to join the state's premier leadership development program -- Leadership Washington. The deadline to apply to be part of the Leadership Washington class of 2018 has been extended to June 30. Watch the latest graduates talk about the program, download an application and click here to learn more about this growing program!

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THREE WEEKS LEFT: Submit your company for AWB's Manufacturing Excellence and Evening of Excellence Awards

The deadline for this year's AWB award nominations is quickly approaching! Nominate your business for consideration in AWB's two awards programs: Manufacturing Excellence and Evening of Excellence. Finalists and winners will be honored at events this fall, including a formal downtown Seattle soiree at Benaroya Hall that will honor Evening of Excellence Award finalists and winners. The deadline for award applications is June 30.

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Federal Issues

H-2B Workforce Coalition asking employers to complete visa cap survey

Are the lack of H-2B employees forcing you to scale back on the amount or quality of the goods or services your business offers? Are you being forced to lay off American workers because of a lack of H-2B workers? The federal cap on immigrant workers is causing problems for employers, and a new survey aims to find out the impacts should the cap not be expanded.

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Legislation of Note

Paid Family Leave

Bipartisan negotiations that include AWB, several other employer groups -- representing businesses of all sizes -- and labor organization leaders have been taking place weekly for several months. The group hopes to reach agreement on a uniform, statewide paid family leave policy that works for employers and employees. A deal may be reached soon.

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Other News

Taxable retail sales hit record $145.9 billion in 2016

Taxable retail sales in Washington jumped 7.8 percent last year, hitting a new record high of $145.9 billion in 2016. Among the top performers in the newly released data: construction sales rose nearly 15 percent; drug and health stores sales were up more than 17 percent; e-commerce and mail order sales were up almost 12 percent; and auto sales were up nearly 9 percent.

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Washington roads now open to self-driving car tests

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order allowing companies to test self-driving cars on roads in Washington. That opens the way for Google, Uber and other companies to test autonomous vehicles, an innovation that could someday help alleviate traffic in congested areas like Seattle.

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Infrastructure Report highlights needs for investments, and value of state's Public Works Assistance Account

As Washington state faces $190 billion in costs over the next two decades to catch up on major deferred infrastructure maintenance, one option for helping local governments pay for the upgrades and repairs is the Public Works Assistance Account. Scott Hutsell, chair of the Washington State Public Works Board, details this 30-year-old state program in a recent op-ed that ran in The Spokesman-Review.

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AWB Events & Resources

THIS WEEK: Employment Law Webinar -- Accident Investigation Plans

Did you know that all employers in Washington are required to create a written Accident Prevention Plan or Program? Learn about what your company needs to do to be in compliance with state law this Wednesday, June 14, in a webinar with Bruce Cross of Perkins Coie.

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Reserve your space at Policy Summit, Sept. 19-21 at Suncadia Resort

Registration is now open for the 2017 AWB Policy Summit at Suncadia Resort. Reserve your space now at AWB's largest public policy gathering for employers.

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AWB offers long-term care solutions for you and your employees

As part of its range of services to help employers provide great benefits to their employees, AWB now offers a long-term care product. In partnership with Long Term Care Associates, this plan will help employers and employees protect their assets and experience peace of mind

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AWB Institute

Celebrate Washington's vibrant manufacturing sector during Manufacturing Week this October!

Manufacturing is the backbone of Washington's economy. To help highlight manufacturing in Washington, AWB will cross the state this Oct. 2-6 in a week-long tour culminating with AWB Institute's annual Manufacturing Summit and presentation of the Manufacturing Excellence awards and Manufacturing Day that takes place on Friday, Oct. 6.

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AWB Institute offers internship bulletin board website to connect employers with interns

The Association of Washington Business Institute is helping connect employers with community and technical college students across Washington state to set up internships. Employers will receive support throughout the internship process. The new internship bulletin board website is now live.

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Tweet of the Week

In Print

They Said It

Business Lifesaver

"I was just glad that we could stop and help someone in need." ~ BNSF Railways conductor Trevor Smith, who rescued a man whose boat had overturned in Puget Sound near Tacoma. Smith and his engineer, Tim Kurriger, saw the man in the water, waving his hands at the train as they passed under the Tacoma Narrows bridges. They stopped the train, and Smith got into the water to pull the man to shore after 30 minutes in the frigid water.

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Eye on Olympia

As deadline looms, Legislature's still split over taxes

AWB President Kris Johnson

Lawmakers began the second 30-day special session with optimistic predictions about reaching an agreement soon on a new two-year state budget and how to address the final piece of the Washington state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary education funding ruling...

The House Democratic Caucus proposed a $44.9 billion spending plan that relies on roughly $3 billion in new and higher taxes, including a 7 percent capital gains tax and a 20 percent increase in business and occupation tax rates for some employers. That's in addition to the $3 billion in growth because of the strong economy.

The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus proposed a $43.3 billion budget plan, which restructures property taxes to equalize education funding across school districts and moves to a per-pupil funding model.

Neither approve of the other's plan, even though both increase spending by double digits -- the Senate by 13 percent and the House by 17 -- over the current $38.2 billion budget...

But, what we hope is not lost in the budget negotiations is the importance of the state's tax and regulatory competitiveness -- the key drivers of much-needed employment growth and economic prosperity across Washington.
Read the full op-ed in The Puget Sound Business Journal
Effective In-House Training

DIY Way To Beat The Manufacturing Skills Gap: Schweitzer Engineering

By Mary Josephs, Forbes

The projected shortfall in manufacturing workers -- the U.S. is expected to come up a full 2 million employees short of its required 3.4 million new workers in the sector in the decade ending 2025, according to a study by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte -- is so significant that no approach should be ignored. And today, I want to recommend to every manufacturing CEO the very different experience of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, a maker of sophisticated equipment for the global power industry based in Pullman, Wash.

While others outsource, Schweitzer goes DIY. While others establish a tightly focused definition of work history and skills they're looking for, Schweitzer focuses on fundamentals: "I like to hire smart people with good values and strong fundamental education," says founder Ed Schweitzer, who started the company in his basement 35 years ago. Today, it employs just over 5,000 and has revenue of nearly $1 billion.
Read the full column in Forbes
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