March 18, 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

Legislative update: Session passes halfway point and house of origin cutoff

Last Wednesday marked the day for bills to pass out of their house of origin to remain alive (except for budgetary bills). The 105-day session is also just past the halfway point. Here's where key issues stand.

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AWB joins chambers in Spokane, Port Angeles and Longview to run ads highlighting the growth of state tax revenues

Full-page ads questioning the need for new and higher taxes during a booming economy appeared Sunday in The Spokesman-Review and The Peninsula Daily News and a similar ad ran in The Daily News in Longview. The ads were co-sponsored by AWB and the local chambers of commerce in each community, as well as several small businesses. The ads show the growth of state tax collections, including $4 billion more to spend this session, and make the point that lawmakers have more money to spend without asking businesses to pay even more.

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AWB leads trade mission to Japan to celebrate Business and Baseball

Dozens of state business and political leaders are touching down in Tokyo today for the "Business and Baseball" trade mission. AWB and the Seattle Mariners, in cooperation with a number of other groups in Washington and Japan, are leading this mission to focus on the deep and important trade ties between these two thriving economies.

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State Supreme Court to consider Gov. Inslee's clean air rule

The state's highest court will consider whether Gov. Jay Inslee and the Department of Ecology were within their rights to impose a Clean Air Rule through executive action. A lower court had struck down the 2015 regulations.

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Washington House passes costly clean-fuels legislation sought by Gov. Inslee

A new and costly bill requested by the governor to create a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) in Washington state passed its first hurdle last week as the state House voted to approve the measure 53-43. The California Energy Commission recently released its February report showing California's LCFS increased the cost of gasoline by 16 cents per gallon and the cost of diesel by 16.6 cents per gallon, rising to an additional cost of 46 cents per gallon by 2030 and 50 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.

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At Lobby Lunch, Sen. Hobbs seeks middle ground on new transportation package

State Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, told business leaders he's willing to work with the employer community as he attempts to usher a $15 billion transportation package through the Legislature. He spoke at last week's AWB Lobby Lunch. This week's Lobby Lunch will feature Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle and chair of the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.

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Report: Washington's tax structure brings in considerable revenues

Washington state taxpayers pay an average of $5,050 per person. That's higher than the national average of $4,946 and puts Washington at the 17th highest taxes paid per capita in the nation. The Washington Research Council detailed these numbers in response to a recent erroneous media report that said, "Washington's taxes are low compared to other states, on average." The facts say otherwise.

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Legislation of Note

HB 1324: Creating the Washington Rural Development and Opportunity Zones Act

The Rural Jobs Act passed the House unanimously March 7 with amendments. It is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, March 19, in the Senate Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Trade Committee at 8 a.m. House Bill 1324, which would support Opportunity Zones in rural communities, is a priority of the AWB Rural Jobs Task Force. Contact Mike Ennis to learn more, or read about the bill in Olympia Business Watch.

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 CCCTF, which is studying the 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. The bill had a hearing today in the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

HB 1403: Local B&O tax apportionment

An AWB-supported bill on local business and occupation tax apportionment unanimously passed the House March 4 and will receive its first hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, March 19, at 3:30 p.m. House Bill 1403 would simplify the administration of municipal B&O tax and comes from the work of the Local B&O Apportionment Task Force. The solutions in the bill are supported by both AWB and the Association of Washington Cities. Contact Clay Hill, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy, to learn more.

HB 1841: Establishing a minimum crew size on certain trains

House Bill 1841 is the only one of the three bills aimed at railroads to survive the house of origin cutoff this session. The bill would establish a minimum crew size requirement for freight and passenger trains and trains carrying hazardous materials and would create exceptions to the requirements and increases monetary penalties for violations. There is concern that the bill oversteps the state's authority since railroads are regulated by the federal government. AWB is opposed to the bill. It is currently in the Senate for consideration. Contact AWB's Mike Ennis to learn more.

HB 1965: Whistleblower actions on behalf of the state

House Bill 1965 would allow whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections. This bill would allow individuals to act when an agency chooses to not move forward with an enforcement action. This could result in an increase in frivolous actions. The bill is in the House Rules Committee. Though it was not passed before the house of origin cutoff last week, AWB is keeping a close eye on it. AWB is opposed to this bill. Contact Bob Battles to learn more.

SB 5135: Toxics bill

Senate Bill 5135, a broad bill aimed at controlling chemicals, passed the Senate 25-24 on March 7 and is scheduled to have a hearing this Thursday, March 21, at 8 a.m. in the House Environment and Energy Committee. AWB is opposing this bill, which would cede legislative oversight and authority to the Department of Ecology to regulate or ban entire classes of chemicals. To learn more, including how you can help, contact Peter Godlewski.

SB 5511: Rural broadband bill moves forward a longtime AWB priority

The Seattle Times highlighted Senate Bill 5511, which would create a state office for rural broadband, and fund it with $25 million to begin the important work of bringing high-speed internet to all corners of Washington. This has been a longtime priority of AWB's Rural Task Force. Read more about this important issue in coverage of the Rural Jobs discussions at AWB's last two Rural Jobs Summits (in Moses Lake in 2017 and Longview in 2018) and the 2018 Spring Meeting in Spokane.

SB 5981: Implementing a statewide cap-and-trade program

Senate Bill 5981 was introduced March 6 and would create a cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state. If passed, the program would be overseen by the state Department of Ecology. Emissions fees would be charged as part of the program and the proceeds would be placed in the air pollution control account. The bill has its first hearing Thursday, March 21, at 10 a.m. in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee. Contact AWB's Peter Godlewski to learn more.

Federal Issues

Bipartisan group of Washington's congressional delegation push president to solve China trade dispute

Washington U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell joined U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse and Suzan DelBene to urge President Trump to solve a trade dispute with China that threatens hundreds of high-tech jobs in Washington's polysilicon industry.

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New public lands package includes federal funding for Washington projects

The president signed a major public lands bill that had bipartisan support, and was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and includes new funding for several noteworthy projects across Washington state.

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Other News

Reports point to a cooling economy, lawmakers should heed business economists' warning

Even as Washington state's economy outperforms the nation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' February jobs report highlighted flat hiring. Opportunity Washington says of the news, "caution lights are flashing."

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Does Viadoom cooperation offer a future model to solve Washington's big challenges?

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire is working with Challenge Seattle, an alliance of company executives and community leaders, to help solve the Puget Sound region's biggest challenges. In an interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal, she cited Seattle's recent Alaskan Way Viaduct closure as a good example of what happens when the public and private sectors work together.

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Washington employers, schools invited to take part in pilot study for earthquake early warning system

A solid plan and some good preparation can save millions of dollars, reduce injuries and save lives. The Washington Emergency Management Division is looking for Washington businesses and schools to take part in an earthquake early warning system and engrain automatic reactions in the case of an earthquake.

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Employment Security Dept. to host 2019 economic symposium in Seattle on April 1

The Labor Market and Economic Analysis division of the state's Employment Security Department will present its 2019 economic symposium in Seattle on April 1. "Connecting the Dots: Metrics that Matter" will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center.

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AWB Events & Resources

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 27 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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Webinar: Anti-Harassment Training in the #MeToo Era

Whether this is your first or twenty-first anti-harassment training, this webinar will provide you with key take-aways for conducting workplace investigations and preventing and responding to harassment. The webinar will be held Wednesday, June 26. Learn more and register online.

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Webinar: Marijuana and Opioids in the Workplace: Employment Law Guidance on Addressing Substance Abuse

Despite striving to maintain drug-free workplaces, many employers are increasingly facing substance abuse issues in their workforces. This May 22 webinar will focus on strategies to prevent and address substance abuse impacting the workplace. Learn more and register here.

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Key Hearings/Meetings

AWB Employment & Labor Committee meets Fridays

AWB's Employment & Labor Committee meets each Friday at AWB, with a call-in option also available. Contact Bob Battles to learn more or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in information.

Conference calls on rural jobs, transportation, land use Friday

AWB will hold weekly calls on transportation, land use and rural jobs each Friday morning. Contact Mike Ennis to learn more or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for more information.

Tweet of the Week

Honoring Veterans

They Said It

Don't Overspend in Olympia

"Let's use our lottery winnings wisely. The Legislature should look beyond just the next two years and work to protect against an economic slowdown that is sure to come." - AWB President Kris Johnson and Washington Roundtable President Steve Mullin in an op-ed that ran Sunday in The Herald of Everett.

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Competitiveness Matters

State won 'economic lottery;' it doesn't need new taxes

By Kris Johnson and Steve Mullin

Imagine winning the lottery tomorrow. You'd have $10 million to spend on whatever you wanted in an instant.

Of course, the prudent thing would be to get a financial adviser and plan for the future. Ensure you have a strong foundation and adequate savings, then decide what you can splurge on. This scenario is not unlike the position our state finds itself in after years of economic recovery and expansion.

Economic and tax revenue growth in Washington state has been extraordinary over the last decade.

So much so that state and local tax growth in Washington was the highest in the nation from 2015 to 2016. The state expects tax collections will top $50 billion for the first time during the next two-year budget cycle. That's $4 billion more than the last cycle and nearly $11 billion more than it had in 2015-17.

Washington has leveraged this growth to invest in important programs, dramatically increasing state funding for public education, for example.

But we need to recognize that this lottery-like period of growth is far from normal. And it has come at a time when Washington also steadily increased the cost of doing business here...

Read the guest commentary in The (Everett) Herald
Competitiveness Matters

Former Rep. Chandler: Inslee threat to prosperity

By Charles H. Featherstone in The Columbia Basin Herald

MOSES LAKE -- Gary Chandler has a message for Gov. Jay Inslee.

"Don't take away our opportunity to be competitive."

The drive for 100 percent clean energy would deprive the Pacific Northwest of its competitive edge on power prices, and the governor's proposed $4 billion in new taxes would hit the state's small business people particularly hard, Chandler said.

"The economy is good, but the economy is starting to slow," Chandler said. "Don't spend everything, don't tax everything."

Read the full story about Chandler's recent talk in The Columbia Basin Herald
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