February 4, 2019
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Top Stories

Tax relief for small manufacturers gains traction in Legislature

A new measure would bring much-needed tax relief to small and medium-sized manufacturers across Washington. "I think this is a critical vote for Washington state and for rural Washington," said House Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee Chair Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, shortly before his committee voted unanimously to pass the bill. House Bill 1348 now heads to the House Finance Committee for consideration.

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Rural jobs bill would bring new investment to small towns

AWB and Washington employers are working together to bring new dollars and energy to rural communities with an innovative bill, House Bill 1324, which aims to encourage more investment in Washington's small towns. Olympia Business Watch has a full report, with video.

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State Department of Ecology wades into Columbia-Snake river dam debate, proposing more water spill

Though the federal government oversees the Columbia-Snake river hydroelectric dam system, the state Department of Ecology last week issued a proposal to allow more water to spill over the eight dams. The agency will hold two public hearings on the proposal on Feb. 13 in Vancouver and via webinar on Feb. 19. Read more »

Governor's ambitious policy agenda highlights AWB's first 2019 Lobby Lunch

AWB's 2019 Lobby Lunch series kicked off Thursday with updates from two of Gov. Jay Inslee's top advisers. Legislative Affairs Director Drew Shirk and Office of Financial Management Director David Schumacher shared the highlights of the governor's 2019 agenda, and the budget proposal to fund it. This week's Lobby Lunch features Democratic leaders: House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington; Sen. Rebecca Saldana, D-Seattle, and Deputy House Majority Leader Larry Springer, D-Kirkland. Republican leaders speak next week. Read more »

New location and format helps employers 'be heard' at Legislative Day and Hill Climb

The annual AWB Legislative Day and Hill Climb had a new format this year and plenty of energy. More than 60 employers met directly with their lawmakers, and top legislative leaders from both parties came to AWB's headquarters to talk directly with the business community.

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Legislation of Note

HB 1601/SB 5690: Independent contractors and the 'Universal Worker Protections Act'

A bill that purports to go after the underground economy would essentially eliminate most independent contractors in Washington state. AWB's Bob Battles testified in opposition to House Bill 1601 this afternoon during a hearing of the House Labor & Workforce Standards Committee. The bill is one of many that restrain or limit independent contractor arrangements in Washington. Contact Battles to learn more.



HB 1491/SB 5217: Restrictive scheduling

This restrictive scheduling bill (also known as secured scheduling by proponents) would be more restrictive than the Seattle ordinance. This bill would require employers to provide schedules two weeks in advance. If they are changed penalties could be assessed. The bill restricts employers and employees from negotiating changes to schedules with short notice, and restrict the flexibility of employees to change their schedule to accommodate unforeseen circumstances that may arise. AWB has been working with the sponsors to address these and other concerns. The hearing on the House bill will be held in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Contact AWB's Bob Battles to learn more.



SB 5412: Low-carbon fuel standard

AWB's Mike Ennis testified last week against Senate Bill 5412, which would implement California-style low-carbon fuel standards in Washington. Those rules in California 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. Contact Ennis to learn more.



HB 1568: Port district worker development and training programs

AWB will testify in support of House Bill 1568 on Tuesday during a hearing before the House Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee at 10 a.m. The bipartisan bill (and its Senate companion, SB 5570) allows public port districts to promote economic development through job training, occupational education, and other workforce enhancements. Contact Amy Anderson to learn more.



Federal Issues

Employers offered an opportunity to get connected on USMCA

As the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) moves to Congress for consideration, the White House is inviting employers to connect with the latest updates and opportunities to engage.

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Other News

New report highlights impact of marine cargo in Washington

With an average annual wage of $95,000 and directly supporting $5.9 billion in business output, the marine cargo sector has an incredibly positive impact in Washington, according to a new report from the Northwest Seaport Alliance.

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Former Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown named to head Department of Commerce

Gov. Jay Inslee has named Lisa Brown to head the Washington Department of Commerce, filling the position most recently held by Brian Bonlender. Brown has served as chancellor of the Washington State University campus in Spokane and was a longtime leader in the state Legislature.

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Senate votes to move Washington's presidential primary forward to March

Washington voters would have a more influential say in the presidential primary under a proposal that has passed the state Senate.

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Civil engineers give Washington a 'C' grade on infrastructure

Washington's roads, bridges, dams, water, sewers and other infrastructure are average at best. That's the assessment of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which released its latest report card last week.

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Rep. Bill Jenkin recovering after heart attack

Mid-Columbia Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser, will miss some of the 2019 session after suffering a heart attack late last month. He is recovering after quadruple bypass surgery.

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AWB seeking employers to be surveyed on cumulative effects of state regulatory and tax policies

The Washington Research Council is looking for businesses willing to be interviewed by email about the cumulative impact of recent state regulatory or tax policies on their business. All information will be published anonymously in the final report. Anyone interested in being part of the survey or wanting to learn more can contact Clay Hill, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy.

Read more »

AWB Events & Resources

Save the date: Learn about Opportunity Zone tax incentives at Feb. 27 seminar

AWB is hosting a seminar Feb. 27 in SeaTac that will focus on new federal tax incentives in agriculture. The 2017 tax reform package led to the creation of Qualified Opportunity Zones, which offer new tax advantages to investors with capital gains. Mary B. Baker of K&L Gates will lead the presentation. Registration is open! Read more »

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

AWB's popular Human Resources and Employment Law Webinar Series, will kick off Feb. 13 with a talk on "Pre-Hire, Hiring & Job Description." It's the first of six classes which will give employers of all sizes an overview of topics like performance evaluations, wage and hour rules, accident prevention efforts and more. 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

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

Real-time perspective on the latest news


It was a full week on Olympia Business Watch, AWB's real-time news headquarters. From thousands of cosmetologists at the Capitol to hearings on B&O tax relief and rural development, AWB was front and center with updates on what matters to employers in Olympia and beyond.

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Tweet of the Week

Hairdresser bill shelved



They Said It

Being Heard in Olympia

"AWB members have a story to tell. I think when we tell our story it resonates, and loudly." ~ Dave Hamilton, president of Delivery Express, about AWB's Legislative Day and Hill Climb.




If you would like to unsubscribe from this newsletter, please contact members@awb.org.

Supporting Manufacturers
Advocating for Employers


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
Hydropower Is Crucial


The Snake River dams fill a power gap. Lawmakers need to know that

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Saying we don't need the four lower Snake River dams because they generate just a small percentage of the region's electricity is a bit like saying the Seattle Mariners don't need relief pitchers who are in the game for only an inning or two.

The dams, like a closing pitcher, are needed for their reliability and to fill in during critical times.

As lawmakers consider Gov. Jay Inslee's proposal to make Washington 100 percent carbon free, we hope they grasp the role hydropower plays in providing clean, renewable, low-cost power to the region

We also hope they come to understand the essential role the Snake River dams play in the power-generating system...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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