January 14, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Legislation of Note Federal Issues Other News AWB Events & Resources Key Hearings/Meetings Best of the Blog Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

Legislature kicks off 105-day budget-writing session today

For the first time since 2011, the Legislature will kick off a two-year budget-writing session with one party in control of both chambers. The legislative session that begins today will also see emphasis on many other issues, from carbon policy and health insurance to employment law, workforce development and infrastructure. AWB's Government Affairs team discussed all the major issues on Friday during a pre-session webinar, which is available to listen to online.

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Alaskan Way Viaduct closes, and Seattle buckles in for 'Viadoom' during three-week Highway 99 closure

Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct closed along State Route 99 Friday night, which marked the beginning of a three-week highway closure, and six weeks of traffic disruption in the heart of the booming Puget Sound economy. State officials are strongly encouraging employers, workers and commuters to come up with alternatives to get through the so-called "Seattle Squeeze."

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Two weeks until AWB's new-and-improved Legislative Day and Hill Climb

With only two weeks left until AWB's 2019 Legislative Day and Hill Climb, it's time to secure a place at this special one-day event that offers new connections between state lawmakers and employers. New this year: The event will be hosted at AWB's office and at the Capitol. What hasn't changed: The chance to connect directly with lawmakers.

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Lobby Lunch series to kick off Jan. 24 with updates from governor's staff

With the start of the legislative session comes a return of Olympia's "power lunch," the weekly Lobby Lunch series of meetings at AWB with top decision-makers. The series begins Thursday, Jan. 24, with representatives from Gov. Jay Inslee's office, and will continue with top Democrats, Republicans, and other leading voices.

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AWB releases video explaining new paycheck deductions for Paid Family and Medical Leave

This month, most employers and employees saw a small deduction from their paychecks to fund the new statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave program. The deduction is small, but employers may need help explaining. AWB created a short video for employers to share with employees that have questions about the first phase of the program, how much they pay into it and when the leave benefit can be accessed .

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Winter edition of Washington Business magazine is out this week

Take a dive into AWB's recent Manufacturing Week bus tour, which is highlighted as the cover story in the new edition of Washington Business. Other stories cover notable Washington employers, the vital role of the Columbia-Snake dam system, a deep-dive into Washington's tax structure and more. The magazine, which is being mailed out to members this week, is also available to read online.

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Legislation of Note

SB 5129: Capital gains tax and increase to business and occupation tax on service businesses

The text of Gov. Jay Inslee proposed capital gains tax and increase in B&O tax on service businesses has been posted online. Senate Bill 5129 will have a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 3:30 p.m. in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Clay Hill to learn more.

HB 1110: Low-carbon fuel standard

The House Environment & Energy Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, on House Bill 1110, which would create a low-carbon fuel standard. Contact AWB Government Affairs director Mike Ennis or Peter Godlewski to learn more.

HB 1112: Banning hydrofluorocarbons

The House Environment & Energy Committee will hold a hearing at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17, on House Bill 1112, which would ban hydrofluorocarbons. AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski is the contact for this and other energy- and environment-related bills.

SB 5116: 100 percent clean electricity

The Senate Energy & Environment Committee will hear Senate Bill 5116 on Tuesday, Jan. 17, which would mandate 100-percent clean energy production. The House Environment & Energy Committee will hear the bill on Tuesday, Jan. 22. AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski is the contact for this and other energy- and environment-related bills.

Federal Issues

Government shutdown may start affecting infrastructure projects

The partial federal government shutdown, now in its fourth week, could affect new and ongoing federal infrastructure project, The Wall Street Journal reports. That news comes as some federal workers have passed their first payday without a paycheck in what has become the longest-ever partial federal government shutdown.

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Other News

Inslee proposes 'public option' health-insurance plan for Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic lawmakers have proposed a "public option" health insurance plan for Washington. The governor said the bill would be the first step toward universal health care. While the bill aims to ensure health insurance coverage, it would not address the cost and health workforce issues that can also be barriers to care. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

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Edmund Schweitzer III, founder of SEL, inducted into National Inventers Hall of Fame

The namesake and founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), Edmund Schweitzer III, is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, joining the ranks of Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, and many others.

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State Supreme Court declines to review Seattle income tax ruling for now

The state Supreme Court has declined to immediately review a lower court ruling that killed Seattle's citywide income tax. Instead, the high court will send the case to the Court of Appeals. The decision is seen as a setback for advocates of the tax on high earners enacted by the city more than a year ago.

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Alaska Airlines to hire more than 3,000 frontline employees in 2019; new report outlines airline's economic impact

After recently hiring its 10,000th employee in Washington state, Alaska Airlines has announced plans to add more than 3,000 jobs across Alaska and Horizon Air over the next year. That news comes as a new report from Alaska Airlines details its economic impact: The company contributed $7 billion to Washington's economy in 2017.

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Port Blakely named PSBJ Family Business of the Year

A Washington-born company stretching back to 1852, Seattle-based Port Blakely has been named the Family Business of the Year by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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State Sen. Kevin Ranker steps down from the Legislature

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, has resigned his seat in the state Legislature following misconduct allegations from a former staffer. His resignation, tendered to the governor on Friday, is effective immediately.

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Energy Northwest nuclear plant sets generation record

Washington's only nuclear power plant continues to achieve new heights of production. The Columbia Generating Station, operated by Energy Northwest, has set yet another record for electricity generation. The power plant sent more than 9.7 million megawatt-hours of electricity into the grid in 2018. That marks the fifth year out of the last seven that the station has set a new record.

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AWB Events & Resources

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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Save the date: 2019 Workforce Summit to be held March 6 at the Hilton Bellevue

Join workplace law experts, human resource professionals and other cutting-edge employment innovators at the 2019 AWB Workforce Summit on Wednesday, March 6, at the Hilton Bellevue. Check back for more details and reserve your space today.

Key Hearings/Meetings

AWB Energy Committee to meet Jan. 16 at 10 a.m.

With several significant bills that will likely move quickly through committee, the AWB Energy Committee will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m.-noon. On the agenda: issues such as a low-carbon fuel standard, HFC ban, 100 percent clean energy and building efficiency. Contact Peter Godlewski to learn more or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in options.

AWB Transportation Committee to meet Jan. 17 at 10 a.m.

This Thursday, Mike Ennis, AWB government affairs director for transportation policy, will discuss his recent seven-city transportation listening tour and will go over the latest developments on Sen. Steve Hobbs' transportation revenue package. The meeting of the AWB Transportation Committee will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 17 at AWB. Contact Mike Ennis to learn more or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in options.

Career Connect Washington to meet with AWB Education and Workforce Committee Jan. 17

Maud Daudon from Career Connect Washington (CCW) will meet with the AWB Education and Workforce Committee on Jan. 17, noon-1:30 p.m., at AWB. Daudon will present CCW's agenda and budget request. The AWB committee will also discuss some key legislation for the 2019 session. Contact Amy Anderson at 360.943.1600 to learn more.

Weekly conference calls will discuss rural jobs, transportation, land use and related issues

Every Friday, AWB's Mike Ennis will hold conference calls to discuss bills coming up for hearings in his Government Affairs issue areas. He has scheduled separate conference calls for transportation, rural jobs, and land use. Each call will include discussion of bills, formulation of an AWB position, decision whether to testify, and general sharing of information. Contact Mike Ennis to learn more or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in information.

Best of the Blog

AWB's Hill Climb event features new locations, more opportunities to connect

AWB is opening the doors of the Capitol for employers during this year's Legislative Day and Hill Climb (LDHC) on Jan. 29. From direct meetings with lawmakers to a new reception being held in the Capitol itself, this year's event will be a chance to "be heard" by lawmakers. Read more in this new blog post at Olympia Business Watch.

Tweet of the Week

A Sunny Start to Session

They Said It

Seattle Squeeze

"Period of maximum constraint." ~ The somewhat euphemistic phrase for the major traffic issues that will be seen in the Seattle region from myriad construction projects, beginning today (the first weekday commute without the Alaskan Way Viaduct) and lasting in various forms until 2023, when cross-Lake Washington light-rail service begins.

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Legislative Day and Hill Climb Preview
American Dreams

2019 State of American Business Address

By U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue

American business is the product of American dreamers -- and it is the conduit for American dreams.

We're working to foster the world's most competitive workforce -- so businesses have deep wells of talent to draw from and people have broad opportunities to succeed.

We're urging modernization of our nation's infrastructure because it is the foundation on which dreams are built. We're advocating for trade deals, and not trade wars, because continued growth requires global engagement.

We're pushing our leaders to restore responsible governing and rebuild the political center so that Washington, and the states, can be a help and not a hindrance. We're advancing an agenda for growth now, and anticipating the challenges that threaten prosperity later.

And we're confronting attacks on companies and assaults on free enterprise so that businesses can continue to do what they do best: create opportunity and fuel the dreams of all Americans.

We are a nation of dreamers. Even better, we are a nation where dreams can be achieved.

Let's keep it that way.

Read the full address on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website
Make the Tough Decisions

Lawmakers shouldn't lift local levy cap

By the Editorial Board of The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin

Lawmakers sold the McCleary deal to their constituents with the understanding that statewide property taxes would be increased to add billions of dollars to basic education funding, but the local levy rate would be capped as a way to mitigate that tax hike.

But Gov. Jay Inslee's proposed 2019-21 budget calls for more taxes and spending $4.1 billion for education. He wants to repeal the cap on locally approved school levies and he wants to restore levy equalization funds for less-affluent school districts. The Washington Education Association also wants to restore local levy flexibility.

The current angst over school funding isn't a surprise to us. To the contrary, when the Supreme Court ruled the plan satisfied McCleary, we wrote "the shift in funding from local taxpayers to the state means that some tough decisions on what to fund had to be made and more will have to be made in the future."

Yet, some lawmakers and the governor aren't wanting to make the unpopular calls. They want to boost revenue (taxes) and spend more and more.

Lawmakers should stick with the original plan, including capping of local levies, and make the tough decisions necessary.

Read the full editorial in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
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