December 17, 2018
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Top Stories

Governor proposes bigger budget, and new taxes to help pay for it

A new capital gains tax and an increase to the business and occupation tax on service businesses like law and accounting firms are included in Gov. Jay Inslee's 2019 budget proposal. Inslee is calling for a $54.4 billion budget for the 2019-21 budget cycle, which is a 22.4 percent increase over the current state budget.

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State spending up 44 percent since 2008, new report shows

The Washington Research Council is providing some useful context as the governor and legislators get ready for the 2019 budget season. State spending is up 44 percent since the pre-recession peak in 2008, the WRC notes in a new policy brief about state government spending.

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Congress passes Farm Bill, measure heads to president's desk

The U.S. House and Senate have approved an $867 billion farm bill that now awaits a signature from the president. The final package had overwhelming bipartisan support and is expected to help "Americans from all walks of life."

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Commerce Director Brian Bonlender to step down after nearly six years

Washington's Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender has announced his planned departure from the state agency he's led for nearly six years.

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AWB's Legislative Day and Hill Climb set for Jan. 29, features new location

Registration is 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. New this year: The event will be hosted at AWB's office and at the Capitol.

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Federal Issues

Federal judge in Texas rules Affordable Care Act unconstitutional

Recent changes in federal tax law have made the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, a federal district court judge in Texas ruled on Friday. The ruling will be appealed, and will not have any immediate impacts on the health care system. But long-term, it could upend the nation's health care system, observers say. Health-care stocks plunged on news of the ruling.

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Border wall debate leads to talk of possible federal shutdown

While the president pushes for a southern border wall, congressional Democrats stand firm against it. The battle over federal budgetary funding for the wall could have far-reaching impacts. Newspapers around the country raised the possibility of a partial federal government shutdown by the end of this week.

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Other News

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Next Fast Facts will be sent Jan. 2

All of us at AWB wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a very merry Christmas. Fast Facts will not be published over the holidays. The next edition will arrive on Jan. 2. In case you missed it, be sure to check out our 2018 year-in-review, highlighting some of the work AWB has done this year to celebrate employers and to help make Washington a great place to do business.

Facing a big talent shortage, industry group creates new job fair in the aerospace sector

The Aerospace Futures Alliance and other partners are holding a job fair Jan. 7 in Kent to help companies fill thousands of vacant aerospace jobs. Dozens of employers and more than 500 candidates are already signed up.

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Seattle Mariners jump in to fight homelessness with nearly $3 million donation

The Seattle Mariners have joined forces with United Way of King County and the King County Bar Association to fight homelessness.

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NAM: Manufacturing job openings reach all-time high

Manufacturing job openings reached an all-time high of 522,000 in October, the National Association of Manufacturers reports. New federal data "underlines the severity of the workforce crisis facing manufacturers."

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Boeing signs deal with British company to recycle extra material for car parts, laptop cases and more

Boeing has signed a new agreement with ELG Carbon Fibre to recycle excess composite material from 11 manufacturing sites around the country. Other companies will then use the recycled material to make new products.

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Apple announces major expansions, including Seattle

Apple has announced major expansions around the country, including a plan to employ more than 1,000 people in Seattle by 2022.

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AWB Events & Resources

Tuesday webinar will help businesses prepare for Paid Family and Medical Leave

Washington's Paid Family and Medical Leave program has been in the works for years. This law will affect many employers beginning in just two weeks. With the first phase of the law, premium collection, set to take effect on Jan. 1, employers need to be prepared to report and answer employee questions. AWB's Dec. 18 webinar will get employers up to speed on Paid Family and Medical Leave.

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Learn employment law basics for your business with AWB's popular webinar series

An early-bird discount is available for the 2019 installment of AWB's popular Human Resources and Employment Law Webinar Series, which begins in February. These six classes will give employers of all sizes an overview of topics like performance evaluations, wage and hour rules, accident prevention efforts and more. The first webinar begins Feb. 13. Register today for early-bird pricing, which expires Jan. 31.

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Keep up with legislation that affects your business with AWB's Bill Tracking Webinar

Register today for a Jan. 9 webinar that can help you track legislation as it moves through the lawmaking process in Olympia. AWB is again working with the Legislative Information Center on a webinar that teaches people how to navigate the Legislature's website, www.leg.wa.gov.

Read more »

Key Hearings/Meetings

Rural Jobs Task Force Meets Jan. 7

AWB's Rural Jobs Task Force will meet Monday, Jan. 7, 10 a.m., 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

"Wow!"



They Said It

A Big Ask

"His tax increases will be taken up by the Legislature, but they're probably more ambitious than the Legislature will be able to pass." ~ State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, the chief Democratic budget writer in the Senate, on Gov. Jay Inslee's budget proposal.




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A big boost for Columbia County

New pulp plant will invigorate Columbia County

By John Begley and Kris Johnson

When the manufacturing sector is strong, communities become stronger as good-paying jobs support families and the tax base that funds critical local services and schools.

If you need one great example of that, just look to Columbia Pulp in Lyons Ferry near Starbuck. The AWB Manufacturing Week bus tour swung by the $184 million manufacturing facility along the Snake River in October to see first-hand what the new facility will do and hear a bit more about some of the high-tech innovations.

The revolutionary plant in southeast Washington is currently under construction. Once in full service, it will process 240,000 tons of straw per year, taking what has historically been a waste product and turning it into pulp used to make paper and other products.

Read the full column in the Tri-City Herald
Strong colleges, strong economy

Higher-ed investment essential

By Dr. Christine Johnson, Tom Johnson and Todd Mielke

This is a great time to find a job -- if you have the right education and training. Unemployment in our region is at record lows, new business and industry is moving to Spokane County and surrounding Eastern Washington communities, and a large wave of retirements promises to create a steady stream of opportunities.

A new report by Washington STEM found the Eastern Region of the state will have 3,877 annual projected job openings over the next five years in health care, business and IT professions, construction apprentices, engineers and teachers. People with skills and degrees are in high demand.

Likewise, this is a great time to expand or open a business or industry in the Inland Northwest -- if you can find enough skilled employees. Our affordability and quality of life is a great selling point, our municipalities and economic development groups are working together to recruit new investments and our region has been in the national spotlight for many successes.

Read the full column in The Spokesman-Review
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