March 18, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Legislation of Note « All Categories

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.

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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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