December 3, 2018
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Top Stories

AWB's Evening of Excellence honors six employers for innovation, creativity and more

Wagstaff Inc. of Spokane Valley earned AWB's Employer of the Year honors and Boundless was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2018 Evening of Excellence last Wednesday. This year's event honored 18 finalists in front of our biggest crowd yet at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. Six award winners were recognized for exemplifying the innovation, community spirit and environmental stewardship that make Washington a great place to live, work and play

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Frank Chopp to step down as House speaker; J.T. Wilcox picked as House Republican leader

State House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, is stepping down after the 2019 legislative session. It's a major shift for politics in Olympia, since Chopp has served as speaker since 1999, the longest run in state history. He plans to stay in the Legislature. Meanwhile, House Republicans have again picked state Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm to serve as House Republican leader, and selected Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, as their new caucus chair.

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AWB announces statewide Transportation Listening Tour

The 2019 legislative session is right around the corner, and AWB is reaching out to employers across the state this month and next to gather input on a possible new transportation package. Mike Ennis, AWB's government affairs director for transportation issues, will seek input on potential revenue sources and projects from each region of the state, including fish culverts, bridge crossings and more. The first meeting is Dec. 11 in Everett

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AWB members travel to nation's capital for fifth D.C. Fly-In

Washington employers and AWB staff are traveling to Washington D.C. this week to connect with Congress and executive officials on the issues that matter most to Washington's employer community, from international trade to agricultural policy and more

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Holiday Kids' Tree arrives this week, lighting scheduled for Friday

Some of the brightest moments of the year are coming soon to the state Capitol Rotunda in Olympia. The 2018 Holiday Kids' Tree is scheduled to arrive in Olympia tomorrow, and the lighting ceremony is set for Friday at 6 p.m. The event is free and open for community leaders, families and Washington employers to help celebrate the arrival of the holiday season

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Federal Issues

U.S., Mexico and Canada sign NAFTA replacement

Leaders from Mexico, Canada and the United States signed a new trade pact that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement on Friday. There's still work to be done on U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the agreement needs to be ratified by national legislatures in each country. Still, Friday's news was a major milestone in a process that's been playing out for nearly two years.

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U.S. and China agree to freeze tariffs, at least for now

After a dinner meeting in Argentina between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the United States and China have agreed to a temporary pause in the escalating trade tensions between the two countries.

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Other News

Biggest earthquake in 50 years rocks Alaska

The economies of Washington and Alaska are closely linked, meaning news of a major earthquake near Anchorage was watched closely here in Washington. While there was significant infrastructure damage in the quake zone, fortunately there were no fatalities.

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Peter Godlewski begins work as AWB government affairs director for environmental issues

Today, AWB welcomes Peter Godlewski as the newest member of the Government Affairs team. Godlewski will be AWB's lead on environmental issues. He most recently served as a government relations associate for the Pacific Waterways Association. He has also worked with former U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings and state Sen. Sharon Brown.

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State officials adopt 5 percent reduction for industrial insurance rates

The state Department of Labor and Industries has adopted new workers' compensation insurance rates for 2019. The agency announced this week a 5 percent overall average premium rate decrease for employers and reductions in the employee portion of the insurance premiums.

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Premium collection for Paid Family and Medical Leave program starts Jan. 1

Employers -- if they haven't already -- need to prepare for the first phase of the statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave program. Beginning Jan. 1, employers and employees will start paying premiums into the leave system, though benefits are not available until Jan. 1, 2020. The state Employment Security Department, which will administer the program, has put together an Employer Toolkit and other information that is available on the agency's website to help employers prepare. AWB is hosting a webinar Dec. 18 to help prepare employers for the new program

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Boeing honors military families, increases charitable giving

Boeing's community support remains strong heading into the holiday season. The company has announced new investments in a children's museum, support for military spouses and an overall increase in charitable giving.

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Secretary of State Kim Wyman honors eight Washington companies with Corporations for Communities awards

Five AWB members are among the eight Washington companies recognized by Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman with Corporations for Communities honors.

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AWB Events & Resources

Get ready for Paid Family Leave and Medical Leave with AWB webinar Dec. 18

AWB will host a webinar on Dec. 18, 2-3:30 p.m., to help employers prepare for new paid family leave and medical leave requirements in Washington.

Shannon Lawless of Ryan Swanson Law will lead a presentation that will help employers learn the key requirements of Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. Premium collections begin on Jan. 1, 2019. Learn more and register today.

AWB's Legislative Day and Hill Climb Jan. 29 features new location; Registration now open

Registration is now open for AWB's 2019 Legislative Day and Hill Climb, a special one-day event that offers new connections between state lawmakers and the thousands of Washington employers that drive the state's economy.

Read more »

Key Hearings/Meetings

AWB's Rural Jobs Task Force to meet Jan. 7 in Olympia

AWB's Rural Jobs Task Force will meet Monday, Jan. 7, at the AWB offices in Olympia. Agenda topics include a discussion of the upcoming legislative session, input from the recent Rural Jobs Summit, and updating the group's Legislative Objectives as appropriate. For those that want to participate by phone, please contact Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 or tommyg@awb.org.

Tweet of the Week

An Excellent Employer



They Said It

Remembering a Statesman

"The American Dream means giving it your all, trying your hardest, accomplishing something. And then I'd add to that, giving something back. No definition of a successful life can do anything but include serving others." ~ Former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at age 94.




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Evening of Excellence Highlights
Record revenue


Legislature has record amount of cash to spend

By the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial board

When the state Legislature gathers in Olympia in January to prepare two-year plans for state government spending, it has a record amount of cash to dole out: $50 billion. Wow!

To put this in perspective, political writer Jerry Cornfield of Everett's Daily Herald newspaper wrote recently that in 2004 -- just 14 years ago -- the tax collections for Washington's two-year budget cycle was $22.9 billion. Now that amount will be collected in less than a year.

Washington's state's population has grown from about 6 million in the early 2000s to more than 7.5 million today. And the state's economy, particularly in the Seattle area, is white hot. As a result, sales tax and property tax collections are way up.

Read the full editorial in the Union-Bulletin here
Family leave coming soon


Employers preparing for state's new paid family, medical leave program

By Elsie Puig, Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business

In January, employers will begin collecting premiums for the state's paid family and medical leave insurance program passed into law last year.

Although benefits won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2020, this statewide benefits program will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks of guaranteed paid time off -- 18 weeks in limited special circumstances -- and receive partial wage replacement.

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted an Ask The Experts panel on the issue Nov. 13 to allow attendees to ask questions of George Cicotte, attorney with the Cicotte Law Firm, Silvia Lugo, communications and outreach consultant with the state Employment Security Department, or ESD, and Jerry Marvel, programs director for the Columbia Basin Society for Human Resource Management.

Read the full article in the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
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