February 25, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Legislation of Note Federal Issues Other News AWB Events & Resources Key Hearings/Meetings Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

More spending, new taxes looming larger in Olympia

As the 2019 legislative session nears the half-way point, the list of spending priorities identified by Democratic leaders far outpaces the state's projected revenue, reporter Jerry Cornfield writes in The Herald of Everett. This despite the considerable growth in state tax revenue over the last several years. For context, Washington's state governmental spending has already increased 44 percent since 2008, and the state has $4 billion in new tax collections going into this budget-writing session.

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Forward Washington transportation package unveiled with $17 billion in investments

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, unveiled his $17.1 billion transportation package last week. The measure includes a $15 per ton carbon fee, which would raise about $7.9 billion over the next 10 years. AWB members made it clear during a recent tour that new transportation funding is needed throughout the state, but elements of the bill are concerning to employers, including the carbon fee and statewide impact fees. The bill will have its first public hearing on Thursday.

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Better workforce skills, economic development on state superintendent's agenda

Washington's top schools official wants to rewrite the rules of public education so more kids can graduate with workforce-ready skills. Speaking last week at AWB's Lobby Lunch meeting, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said students need to have multiple pathways into a complicated economy. State Auditor Pat McCarthy joins Lobby Lunch this week.

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SEH America helps pilot career-connected learning program as Legislature looks at expansion

Five community college students are earning $12 to $14 an hour as apprentices in a "manufacturing technician career launch pilot" program at SEH America, an east Vancouver silicon wafer-maker. A hearing last week in Olympia for a career-connected learning bill aims to expand this kind of program.

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Learn how to attract and retain the best talent at the 2019 Workforce Summit March 6 in Bellevue

Workplace culture is the focus of AWB's third-annual Workforce Summit coming up March 6 in Bellevue. Join workplace law experts, human resource professionals and other cutting-edge employment innovators for practical solutions to modern workplace issues like financial and mental wellness - and learn how to build a culture that will help you attract and retain the best talent. Register now to reserve your spot.

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Legislation of Note

HB 2042: Alternative fuels

A bill changing the state's alternative fuels incentives is being modified to address employer community concerns that AWB expressed to the bill's sponsor. As originally written, House Bill 2042 would have broadened the state's commercial vehicle incentive but eliminated the vehicle class caps that were put in place to ensure all fuel types were treated the same. Eliminating the vehicle caps on classes turns the program upside down and essentially shifts the incentive away from medium-duty and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. It's a change AWB opposes as part of a longstanding commitment to alternative fuels incentives that are agnostic toward fuel type. After hearing that Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, the bill's sponsor, will address these concerns about the original bill, AWB is planning to support the measure. Contact Mike Ennis to learn more.

Initiative 976: $30 car tabs

The House and Senate will hold public hearings on Initiative 976 Tuesday. I-976 is an initiative to the Legislature and aims to limit the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax to $30. There is a fiscal note that shows significant revenue losses to local governments and the state. Since the passage of Connecting Washington in 2015, AWB's primary objective has been to maintain the commitments to the package. "As many of you have heard me say in my testimony opposed to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a deal is a deal," said AWB's Mike Ennis. "We recognize the hard work that went into that agreement and the hard votes that were taken by lawmakers to finally adopt it. While we don't agree with everything in the package, we want to honor the commitments that were made." In keeping with the revenue commitments made in the Connecting Washington package, AWB is opposing I-976.

SB 5548: Providing multiple pathways to a meaningful high school diploma

Substitute Senate Bill 5548, the "Providing Multiple Pathways to a Meaningful High School Diploma" proposal, passed out of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee last week on a 10-1 vote and is currently in the Rules Committee. AWB supports the bill, which provides multiple rigorous opportunities for students to obtain a high school diploma, recognizing there are many ways in which students learn. Possibilities include passing the identified national assessment, completing dual-credit courses to earn college credit, and completing a sequence of career and technical education courses, including those leading to workforce entry, state or nationally approved apprenticeships, or postsecondary education. This effort provides students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma from a variety of rigorous paths that match their learning style. Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for education and workforce, to learn more.

HB 1491/SB 5217: Restrictive scheduling

The House version of the bill aimed at imposing strict scheduling requirements on employers received a hearing today in the Appropriations Committee today and the Senate version was referred to the Ways & Means Committee. This restrictive scheduling bill (also known as predictive or secure scheduling by proponents) would be more restrictive than the Seattle ordinance. The bills 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. Contact AWB's Bob Battles to learn more.

SB 5513 and HB 1515: Independent contractors

As originally written, Senate Bill 5513 and House Bill 1515 would substantially change the independent contractor law in Washington. Most individuals who are currently considered independent contractors would no longer be independent contractors. A substitute HB 1515 was moved out of committee. The bill would create a task force with equal labor and business representatives as well as legislators from each caucus. AWB is seeking minor changes to the substitute bill. If those are made, AWB will likely support the task force created by the bill. Contact Bob Battles to learn more.

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

A proposal that purports to go after the underground economy, essentially eliminating most independent contractors in Washington state, appears to be dead for the 2019 session. Neither House Bill 1601 nor Senate Bill 5690 moved before policy cutoff last Friday. They will, however, remain active in the interim and could be revived in 2020. Contact Bob Battles to learn more.

SB 5326: Concerning booth rental agreements

Senate Bill 5326 would result in most hairdressers no longer being considered independent contractors. A proposed substitute would no longer create an absolute bar, but it still places substantial barriers on the profession. The bill, which AWB opposes, failed to move before policy cutoff and is considered dead for the 2019 session. Contact Bob Battles to learn more.

SB 5526/HB 1523: Creating a 'public option' health insurance plan

Senate Bill 5526 will have a hearing this week in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. This public option health insurance bill is supported by the governor, who calls it "Cascade Care." AWB has testified in opposition to HB 1523 and SB 5526. AWB will testify in opposition to the bill during its public hearing on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. before the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. "These bills have the potential of increasing the cost of health care for employer sponsored insurance and decreasing access to health care coverage to those who would be covered by the plan proposed in these bills," said AWB's Amy Anderson. "This plan will continue the trend of increasing the cost of health care and will also decrease access to health care." The Washington State Wire has a roundup of the latest changes to the evolving public option bill.

HB 1344: Child care access

AWB testified today in support of House Bill 1344, which directs the Department of Commerce to contract for a regional assessment of the child care industry. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families would be required to use the child care cost estimate model developed by the Child Care Collaborative Task Force (CCCTF) to determine child care subsidy rates by 2025. AWB co-chairs the Child Care Collaborative Task Force, which is studying the current childcare system in Washington state, options for business to work collaboratively with the childcare system to provide affordable, accessible and flexible child care, and how the state can better support the system. The items addressed in HB 1344 will provide the necessary data and information the task force needs to develop a policy agenda for child care and early childhood education. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

Federal Issues

AWB's Amy Anderson joins U.S. Rep Derek Kilmer for Facebook Live talk on Skills Investment Act

AWB's government affairs director for education and workforce development Amy Anderson joined AWB member Julianne Hanner of Hanner Enterprises and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-6) for a Facebook Live discussion last week on the Skills Investment Act and lifelong learning accounts, which have benefits for employers and employees.

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U.S. Senate banking panel plans vote on three Ex-Im Bank board members

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee plans to vote on Tuesday for three Ex-Im Bank Board nominations. If their nominations are confirmed by the full Senate, they would give the Bank a quorum to approve loans above $10 million.

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Other News

Boeing's new 777X airplane to makes its debut in March

Boeing's first-ever 777X wide body jet is scheduled to emerge from a factory in Everett next month. The company is planning a daylong, global debut for the jet, which has already earned the company 326 orders since it was introduced in 2013.

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The McGregor Company scholarship program is accepting applications

Graduating high school students are encouraged to apply for The McGregor Company scholarships as they pursue agriculture-related education. The deadline to apply is March 22.

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L&I offers free workplace safety seminar in March

The state Department of Labor and Industries is hosting a free workplace safety seminar March 19 at its Tumwater office. The event features business and industry safety leaders who will share their experiences.

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NAM's 'State of Manufacturing Tour' highlights value of modern manufacturing

Nationwide, manufacturers have too many job openings and not enough applicants to fill them. That's one of the messages the National Association of Manufacturers took on the road last week during its annual "State of Manufacturing Tour." The goal of the multi-state tour is to "inspire the next generation of creators and innovators and draw attention to the incredible work that modern manufacturers are doing every single day."

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Nominations now open for AWB's board of directors

AWB is looking for dynamic business leaders from employers of all sizes and regions of the state to serve on the AWB Board of Directors. We're accepting nominations for board membership until March 22. Nominations should be sent to Bonnie Millikan at bonniem@awb.org.

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AWB Events & Resources

THIS WEEK: Learn about Opportunity Zone tax incentives at Wednesday seminar

What are Opportunity Zones and how can they help economic development? AWB is hosting a seminar this Wednesday 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!

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

AWB's popular Human Resources and Employment Law Webinar Series continues on March 20 with a talk on employee handbooks from Greg Hendershott and Angela Vogel from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. The series continues through the summer with other relevant topics, such as performance evaluations, wage and hour rules, accident prevention efforts and more.

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Key Hearings/Meetings

Tune in to the weekly Employment & Labor Law Committee meeting/call

AWB's Bob Battles is hosting a weekly Friday morning call with the latest legislative news on employment and labor law issues. There is also a conference room for those who want to attend in person. The meeting/call is 8-9:15 a.m. Contact Bob Battles 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

Workforce Development

They Said It

Zipper Merge

"Those of us who are in the lane closest to the ramp have to open up the space, and not feel like we are giving up our first-born child." ~ Angie Ward, a program manager with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, explaining the value of the "late-merge zipper method" to more efficiently use available lanes. A proposal by Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, House Bill 1614, would require that driver education classes teach this technique for smoothly merging two lanes of slow-moving traffic into one.

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Workforce Summit
Attack on the Dams

Inslee's proposed Snake River dam task force will be a waste of money

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

State legislators looking to trim the budget this session can save $750,000 straight off if they don't fund a proposed Snake River dams task force.

A new state committee is not going to be able to compete with the federal team that has been studying this same issue since September 2016, so trying to duplicate the effort is absurd.

The Snake River dams are critical to the economy of Eastern Washington and the Northwest. They play an important role in providing irrigation, hydropower and navigation.

Community leaders note that barging on the inland Columbia Snake River system moves, on average, about 9 million tons of cargo valued at more than $3 billion each year. The dams are part of the lifeblood of the region.

But anti-dam activists want to see them gone, and the plight of the Puget Sound orcas are fueling their efforts...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
Practical Education

Career Link seeks to pair students, employers

By The Herald Editorial Board

A new partnership between the Everett School District and the City of Everett -- Everett Career Link -- is looking to pair local employers with Everett high school juniors and seniors in internships that provide career-connected experience to the students as they explore their interests and prepare plans for the future.

The school district is providing employers with training and guidance in setting up the internships and matching students to internships, paperwork regarding state Labor and Industries compliance and liability and ongoing support during the internships.

While it's at the employer's discretion to offer interns a stipend, the program is intended as an outgrowth of the classroom; students -- for their 90 hours of participation -- will earn half of the Career and Technical Education credit they need toward their high school graduation requirement.

More than the students benefit. The time spent with local students can help employers develop deeper ties in the community, get a better understanding of the work underway in schools and appreciation for the pool of talent that exists in their own community.

We've repeated the forecast often, first made by Washington Roundtable, that employers in Washington state expect some 740,000 new jobs to be available by 2021. And nearly 80 percent of those jobs will be either career jobs that require a college degree or career-pathway jobs that require at least some level of post-high school training and certification...

Read the full editorial in The Herald
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