January 21, 2019
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Top Stories

Tax relief for manufacturers gains bipartisan support in Legislature

State Reps. Jacquelin Maycumber and Mike Chapman have introduced a bill that would lower and standardize the business and occupation tax for most Washington manufacturers. The measure would apply statewide, giving a boost to an industry that's vitally important to Washington's economy but has lagged behind other sectors.

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First week of legislative session begins with strong push for climate bills, higher taxes

With secure Democratic control of both chambers and the governor's mansion for the first budget-writing session since 2011, lawmakers wasted no time last week as the legislative session kicked off. Gov. Inslee began the week with a State of the State address calling for action on climate and other issues.

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Microsoft announces $500 million pledge, new partnerships to tackle housing crisis

Microsoft is putting serious money and energy behind more affordable housing in the Puget Sound. The company has donated $500 million toward housing solutions, which is the largest pledge in Microsoft history.

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Small-business owners share concerns about capital gains tax in debut of new AWB video program

Capital gains tax proponents say the proposed 9-percent tax would be aimed only at the wealthy, but a pair of small-business owners in Snohomish County explain how it would impact their retirement plans in Amplified, a new video program from AWB. Eric Fritch, owner of Fritch Forest Products, and Tina Malmberg, co-owner of HPF Manufacturing, share their stories here.

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Just one week until AWB's relocated Legislative Day and Hill Climb

With only a week left until AWB's 2019 Legislative Day and Hill Climb, don't wait 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. 31 with updates from David Postman, Gov. Inslee's chief of staff

With the start of the legislative session comes the return of Olympia's "power lunch," the weekly Lobby Lunch series of meetings at AWB with top decision-makers. The series begins Thursday, Jan. 31. David Postman, Gov. Jay Inslee's chief of staff, will meet with AWB members. The series will continue with top Democrats, Republicans, and other leading voices.

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Legislation of Note

HB 1110: Low-carbon fuel standards

AWB's Mike Ennis testified last week about the impact low-carbon fuel standards are having on fuel prices in California. Those LCFS rules have increased the cost of traditional fuel by 13.3 cents per gallon, and have increased diesel costs by 9.5 cents per gallon, according to the California Energy Commission -- and that's when the program is only at 50 percent implementation. The costs are expected to increase as the program ramps up to 100 percent. House Bill 1110 would implement similar standards in Washington. The bill is scheduled for an executive session this Thursday before the House Environment and Energy Committee. Opportunity Washington has more on the LCFS bill.



SB 5327 and HB 1336: Career-connected learning

AWB will testify Tuesday on a pair of bills aimed at supporting career-connected learning, which has long been an AWB priority. Senate Bill 5327 and House Bill 1336 will go before their chambers' respective higher education committees at 1:30 p.m. The chairs of both committees have agreed to coordinate the timing of their hearings so those wishing to testify can do so before both panels. AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson is coordinating testimony; contact her to learn more.



SB 5116: 100 percent clean energy

AWB's Peter Godlewski joined Washington energy providers last week to highlight some concerns with the current version of Senate Bill 5116. The bill would require Washington utilities to provide 100 percent of the state's electrical power without using fossil fuels by 2045. By removing natural gas as a source of baseload generation, the proposal promises risks to the state's energy grid and stability and threatens increased costs to employers and consumers. TVW has video of Godlewski's testimony.



HB 1324 and SB 5423: Creating the Washington Rural Development and Opportunity Zone Act

House Bill 1324 and Senate Bill 5423 would create the Washington Rural Development and Opportunity Act, an updated version of the Rural Jobs Act that improves access to capital in rural areas. SB 5423 has a public hearing scheduled for this Thursday in the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development & Trade Committee at 8:30 a.m. AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis is looking for members to testify. Contact him to learn more.



SB 5064 and HB 1071: Privacy and protection of personal information

Senate Bill 5064 and House Bill 1071 would impose new data protection and privacy rules and definitions. AWB has concerns about the bill, and Government Affairs Director Bob Battles testified last week on the House version. TVW has video of Battles' testimony last week on HB 1071. The Senate version of the bill will come up for public hearing on Tuesday before the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee at 10 a.m.



Federal Issues

As U.S. ponders lifting China tariffs, new report finds WA cherry growers lost $106 million

The Trump administration is reportedly considering lifting Chinese tariffs in hopes of hastening a long-term trade deal. That news comes as the impacts of escalating trade tensions are becoming clear -- including a $106 million reported loss just to Washington's cherry producers alone.

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Other News

State revenue collections now 3.7 percent above November forecast

Washington state continues to collect more tax revenue than expected. The latest report and forecast from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council shows that tax collections continue to outperform projections. Whether that news will temper calls for new, higher taxes in the Legislature is less certain.

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Inslee vows broadband access for all, a major AWB rural jobs priority

In a year of record state revenues, Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing new strategies, and funding, to help close the digital divide between rural and urban Washington.

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Study to examine tearing down Snake River dams is a waste of money, supporters tell governor

Spending $750,000 to study the economic and social impacts of tearing down the Snake River dams would be a waste of money, a group of Tri-Cities leaders said in a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee.

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Kent's new Dick's Drive-In restaurant may be removed for Sound Transit maintenance facility

The new Dick's Drive-In in Kent opened in December, but now it's on the list of possible sites for a new maintenance facility for Sound Transit, which manages the area's light rail and commuter trains. The news quickly generated community support for the restaurant, and substantial news coverage across the region.

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Former Congressman Dave Reichert back to work, fighting human trafficking

Just days after leaving office, former U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert has joined a prominent lobbying firm. His first job is to work on a project to combat human trafficking in Central America.

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Alex Ybarra appointed to replace Rep. Manweller

A mathematician and Quincy School Board member has been appointed to fill the state House seat recently vacated by Rep. Matt Manweller. Alex Ybarra is also a member of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs and the Washington State School Directors Association.

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Department of Revenue extends hours for January tax filing month

With multiple taxes due and many taxpayers encountering a new online state tax filing system for the first time, the Department of Revenue has extended its call center hours.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

Register now for 2019 Workforce Summit 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 Health Care Committee to meet Wednesday

The AWB Health Care Committee will discuss the latest legislative action during a meeting at AWB this Wednesday. Contact Amy Anderson, government affairs director for health care, to learn more, or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in information.



AWB Employment Law Committee to meet at 8:30 a.m. on Friday

The AWB Employment Law Committee will meet at AWB on Friday at 8:30 a.m. discuss rulemaking, legislation and other news. Contact Bob Battles, government affairs director for workplace law, to learn more, or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in information.



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.

Tweet of the Week

Remembering MLK



Best of the Blog

Chapman, Maycumber introduce B&O tax relief for manufacturers

House Bill 1249, introduced by Reps. Mike Chapman, D-Port Townsend, and Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, would create a standardized business and occupation (B&O) tax rate for most manufacturers, amounting to a 40 percent reduction in the B&O tax for thousands of employers. Read more about what the bill would mean to manufacturers across the state at Olympia Business Watch.



They Said It

Good News

"Jobs are increasing, energy prices dropping, personal income is growing, freight shipments increasing, and tax collections are outperforming expectations." ~ Opportunity Washington's summary of the latest Economic and Revenue Forecast Council report, which finds state tax revenues continuing to come in above expectations.




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Legislative Day and Hill Climb Preview
Federal Advocacy


Bridging the divide between Washington state and D.C.

By AWB President Kris Johnson

On a map, the distance from our Washington to the "other" Washington looks so far away. But, policies being made and debated there hit us here in Washington state.

Take trade policies, for example.

As one of the most trade-driven states in the nation, what happens with trade agreements has a direct impact on Washington state's economy.

A recent report found that Washington farmers and other export-dependent producers saw their foreign sales drop by as much as 28 percent during the six months after the United States began imposing tariffs on trading partners.

That's one reason why the Association of Washington Business and its members have become more engaged than ever on the national front. In fact, AWB staff and 25 business owners and leaders recently returned from the association's fifth D.C. Fly-in...

Read the full guest column in The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business
Generosity and Leadership


Microsoft steps up with game-changing support for housing

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Microsoft is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the Puget Sound region with a remarkable gift. The company's effort to nudge the housing industry to produce more affordable and midmarket housing in King County is a tremendous contribution to regional affordability efforts.

The $500 million investment in affordable housing that the company announced on Thursday is unprecedented, magnanimous and impactful.

This should reset the regional discussion about Puget Sound's housing shortage. It encourages the business community to help solve a complex and pressing challenge. The Redmond software giant also brings much needed context to an affordability discussion that's overly focused on Seattle and ever more increases in public spending. Affordability is a national and regional challenge requiring a mix of creative solutions from the public and private sectors.

Microsoft is also demonstrating once again that it's not only one of the most successful companies in history, it's also a leader in philanthropy. Not just in terms of giving money, where it has raised the bar, but in efforts to improve the welfare of others through shrewd investments...

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
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