July 5, 2017
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Top Stories

Hirst fix remains as big unfinished business; lawmakers need to pass a solution before they go home

The rural vs. urban divide looms in the Hirst decision, which cut off rural development by imposing new regulations on wells via a 2016 state Supreme Court ruling. Addressing Hirst is one of the last major projects left for the Legislature in this year's session. Without a Hirst fix, rural property owners, including farm workers, will be left without housing options. The Senate has voted four times for a Hirst fix, Senate Bill 5239. The House has yet to vote on a Hirst fix bill.

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Balanced 2017-19 state budget signed into law after marathon negotiations

Lawmakers made major new investments in K-12 education last week, adding $7.3 billion in public education funding as part of a bipartisan budget deal. Negotiations went into the final days of the fiscal year, with votes on Friday and a gubernatorial signature shortly before the midnight deadline. The governor and legislative leaders on both sides say the budget addresses the requirements of the McCleary state Supreme Court decision, amply funding schools for the first time in a generation.

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Budget helps small manufacturers stay competitive; encourage Gov. Inslee to support the modest B&O tax relief

Final budget negotiations produced a win for small manufacturers: a phased-in reduction in business and occupation tax rates for general manufacturing businesses in the state. With Washington a high-cost state for businesses, and with manufacturing producing a widespread benefit by providing a ripple-effect of jobs, this is a positive development for Washington's employers.

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Bipartisan paid family leave bill passes both chambers by wide margins

Gov. Jay Inslee this afternoon signed a paid family leave and medical bill after legislative passage Friday of a compromise negotiated by business and labor, Republicans and Democrats. The bill ensures protections for employers. Small businesses are exempted (but can opt-in and access funds for training replacement workers), and employer-provided leave programs are protected.

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Alaska Air offers charter flight for solar eclipse viewing

When the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years rolls across North America on Aug. 21, Alaska Airlines will take some people into the air on a charter flight for a unique look at this rare astronomical event.

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Federal Issues

New poll shows strong public support for federal hydropower system; members of Congress working to ensure smooth continued hydropower operations

Pacific Northwest members of Congress from both parties have introduced legislation to ensure continued smooth, efficient and biologically responsible operations of Columbia River dams. The bipartisan bill would keep a 2014 biological opinion on hydroelectric dam operations in place until 2022, or completion of a new biological opinion. That work comes as a new poll shows widespread support for Columbia and Snake river hydroelectricity, including nearly two-thirds who say removing Snake River dams would be "extreme" and a mistake.

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Other News

Northwest Seaport Alliance shows strong growth, bucking West Coast trend

Import traffic to the ports in Seattle and Tacoma rose by 10 percent in May. This strong showing for the Northwest Seaport Alliance is a contrast to a "troubling" slowdown at some other West Coast gateways, Jon Talton writes in The Seattle Times.

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Mark Reddemann announces 2018 retirement as CEO of Energy Northwest

After a 40-year career in the nuclear energy industry, Mark Reddemann announced last week that he will retire as head of Energy Northwest. He will stay on for one more year to give time for a replacement to be found and brought on board.

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Microsoft gives $25.8 million to expand workforce training program

Microsoft's philanthropic arm will give $25.8 million to expand a job-training program called Skillful, which helps workers adapt to the changing workplace by helping job-seekers learn skills in high demand in the digital economy.

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AWB Events & Resources

Hear from members of Congress, international consuls at expanded Policy Summit

New speakers are joining the line-up for the 2017 AWB Policy Summit. For more than a quarter century, the Policy Summit has been the premier gathering to discuss statewide policy and look ahead to upcoming issues. This year's expanded agenda also includes a focus on federal affairs, including remarks from members of Washington's congressional delegation. Rooms at the resort sell out quickly, so reserve your space today to be part of AWB's largest public policy gathering for employers.

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Save the date: Rural Jobs Summit to be held Oct. 23 and 24

AWB's expanded Rural Jobs Summit is taking shape. Plan now to join us Oct. 23-24 to continue the discussion we started this spring about how to bring jobs to rural Washington and economic prosperity to the entire state. More details to come.

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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. Read more »

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

Legislative Bingo

They Said It

Fully Funding Education

"This is a historic budget that I believe fully funds our schools for the first time in decades and will meet our constitutional obligations." ~ Gov. Jay Inslee, announcing his support for the bipartisan budget compromise announced last week.

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New Look, Renewed Focus

AWB's rebranding reflects larger role

By AWB President Kris Johnson

A lot has changed since the Association of Washington Business was founded 113 years ago. Innovation has sparked new industries, many of them unimaginable even a generation ago, changing the way we live and work and drawing millions of new residents to our state.

Through all that, one thing has remained the same: AWB has been a steadfast voice for employers, advocating on behalf businesses of all sizes and from all industries to promote a healthy economy...

Now more than ever, employers are expected to take on a larger role in solving the complex problems facing families across the state.

That's why our recently introduced brand update, AWB's first major brand refresh in more than three decades, emphasizes collaboration and problem-solving. The update includes a fresh new logo, replacing the familiar blue rectangle that has symbolized AWB since the 1980s, and it positions AWB as a convener -- bringing diverse groups together and finding solutions that move our state forward in creating economic opportunity for all.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World
New Jobs

Fuel terminal, methanol plant would bring jobs to SW Washington

By Laura Venneri, publisher of The Battleground Reflector

To the north of us it sounds like Northwest Innovation Works might get the opportunity to build the Kalama methanol plant now that they have received the air pollution permit and the Department of Ecology for the shoreline. They still need federal permits for the Columbia River dock.

To the south of us plans are being made to build an energy terminal in Vancouver. As stated on the Vancouver Energy website, "The proposed Vancouver Energy terminal provides critical infrastructure that enables the safe transfer of North American crude oil from rail to ship, and ultimately the manufacturing of transportation fuels for our daily lives at West Coast refineries. Vancouver Energy will stimulate local and state economies, providing jobs and helping to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil -- all while operating with the utmost dedication to safety and the environment."

Both facilities are working hard to ensure that they make a minimal impact on the amount of pollution they release into the environment and I appreciate their efforts.

If and when the methanol plant and energy terminal opens I look forward to seeing more jobs available to members of our community....

Read the full editorial in The Battleground Reflector
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