April 8, 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

AWB to Legislature: No need for taxes, and save for a rainy day

With three weeks left in the legislative session, the Democratic majorities in both chambers have passed their proposed budgets. The negotiation between the chambers will now begin in earnest. AWB is continuing to emphasize that the state has a strong surplus from existing tax revenue, and that with a recession on the horizon, there is no need to raise taxes on employers or families.

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Amazon announces new urban campus in downtown Bellevue

Citing Bellevue's "business-friendly environment" among other factors, Amazon announced last week that it would be moving thousands of jobs from downtown Seattle to a new urban campus in the core of Bellevue.

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AWB testifies against Low-Carbon Fuels bill; measure remains in Senate Transportation Committee as deadline nears

The Senate Transportation Committee heard more than two hours of testimony on the Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) bill Thursday evening, but did not take a vote. A similar LCFS mandate in California is dramatically increasing the cost of fuel.

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Nikki Haley to give keynote address at Spring Meeting

AWB's Spring Meeting in Spokane will feature a keynote from Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2017-19. Prior to serving as America's 29th permanent representative to the U.N., Haley was elected twice to serve as governor of South Carolina. Her keynote address, sponsored by Boeing, will mark the second time that AWB's Spring Meeting has been held in the Davenport Grand hotel's spacious ballroom.

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Legislation of Note

HB 1599: Promoting career and college readiness through modified high school graduation requirements

An AWB-supported education proposal, House Bill 1599, was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee this afternoon. HB 1599 provides a multiple-pathway approach to high school graduation that requires students to complete a High School and Beyond Plan, earn required credits towards graduation (24 unless an Individual Education Plan has been put into place), and successfully complete one or more pathways in order to earn a high school diploma. Contact Amy Anderson, AWB government affairs director for education and workforce, to learn more.

SB 5489: Environmental justice

AWB testified against Senate Bill 5489, during a Saturday hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, after spending the week discussing this bill with committee members. The bill moved on to an executive session this morning. This bill would implement the so-called "precautionary principal" in state agency planning and permitting decisions. This would require the state to ensure that absolutely no harm is caused by any action taken or approved by the state and is an impossible standard to meet. It would also create a task force to make recommendations for state agencies to implement social justice reforms at the planning and permitting level and give them the opportunity to make those same recommendations to SEPA. Contact AWB's Mike Ennis or Peter Godlewski to learn more.

HB 1344: Child care access

House Bill 1344, a child care access bill supported by AWB, continues to move forward. The bill is being worked on to decrease the fiscal note from the current $1.7 million down to the $1.1-$1.2 million range, as desired by the committee chair and bill sponsor. There is also a desire to reduce the size of the Child Care Collaborative Task Force down from the current 40 members. As a co-chair of the task force, AWB is working with its partners to assess the current make-up of the task force and the necessary members to move the work forward. The bill and task force are looking at how to develop a well thought out and strategic plan for addressing child care access and cost in the state of Washington. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 5135: Allowing Department of Ecology to ban chemicals

Senate Bill 5135, aiming to ban chemicals deemed by the Department of Ecology (DOE) to be toxic, passed out of the House Environment Committee last week with a new striker than addresses some of AWB's concerns regarding this bill. There is now some legislative oversight of DOE's decisions. The department will complete the process on how to regulate a priority chemical and present a report to the relevant committee of the Legislature. That committee can then draft a bill to overturn any element of Ecology's recommendations which will then move through the legislative process. Any part of Ecology's report not acted on will go into effect. There is also the creation of a stakeholder group to help Ecology oversee the listing process of the chemicals covered by this bill. "While this change does get to AWB's biggest area of concern regarding this bill, the criteria Ecology can use to determine which chemicals to list remains very broad," said AWB's Peter Godlewski. "We are hoping to further increase the threshold for the type of information which Ecology can use to list a chemical." To learn more, contact Godlewski.

SB 5376: Data breach and European-style privacy protections

AWB's Bob Battles testified Saturday (TVW has video) on Senate Bill 5376 before the House Appropriations Committee. He urged support for the underlying Senate bill, rather than an amended version that has several problematic elements. The amended version would adopt the privacy standards of the European Union's GDPR with a low threshold of 100,000 transactions, which would require most businesses in the state to comply with the GDPR standards. It also includes a problematic private right of action that affects everyone, down to a corner lemonade stand. Contact Bob Battles to learn more.

Federal Issues

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers appointed as Republican Representative to the United Nations

Last week U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, was appointed as the Republican Representative to the United Nations General Assembly.

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USTR Releases 2019 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

American products face trade barriers in 65 markets around the world, from the European Union to China, Japan, Canada, Russia and Kenya. Those barriers are highlighted in a report issued recently by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

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Wall Street Journal: Affordable housing is a crisis around the world

While housing issues are a major issue in much of Washington state, from Seattle to Bingen, they're also a problem across the globe, The Wall Street Journal reports. To help bring policymakers and community leaders together to solve the housing problem, AWB is hosting a Housing Summit this July in SeaTac.

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Other News

Spokane voters may have chance to weigh in on city income tax ban and public view of collective bargaining

Better Spokane is submitting a pair of initiatives that would allow city voters to decide whether to ban a local income tax and to require that the city's collective bargaining be open to the public.

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Updated employer toolkit now available for Paid Family & Medical Leave

As employers and employees both become acquainted with Washington's new Paid Family & Medical Leave law, the Employment Security Department has put together an updated employer toolkit.

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Election 2020: Candidates begin to emerge in state attorney general race

With Attorney General Bob Ferguson a presumed candidate for governor next year, a number of names are emerging of potential candidates for the post of attorney general.

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Strong jobs report keeps unemployment low, pushes markets higher

Friday's U.S. Department of Labor report showed a stronger than expected increase of 196,000 new jobs, up from just 33,000 new jobs in February. Unemployment remains steady at 3.8 percent, and wages grew as well.

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'Rural Community Vitality' listening tour coming to Toppenish, Aberdeen, Colville and Quincy

The Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board and the U.S. Department of Labor are holding a series of listening sessions in different corners of Washington.

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New report: Puget Sound Energy's LNG plant would reduce greenhouse gas emissions

A new report from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency concluded that a new liquefied natural gas plant planned by Puget Sound Energy would reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall. Supporters cheered the news, while opponents vowed to keep fighting.

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Rural jobs bill still alive in state Senate; support for rural Opportunity Zones remains strong throughout the country

Opportunity Washington highlighted a new report that shows 17 states are considering opportunity zone bills, which aim to encourage investment in struggling local economies.

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Applications open for AgForestry Leadership Program

The AgForestry Leadership Program, provided by the Washington Agriculture & Forestry Education Foundation (WAFEF), is accepting applications to participate in the program through April 30.

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Inslee declares drought emergency for Okanogan, Methow and Upper Yakima basins

Water shortages are predicted in the Methow, Okanogan and Upper Yakima basins this summer, despite a good snow season for many parts of the state. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a drought emergency in these watersheds, which clears the way for emergency services like water leasing.

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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 this Wednesday, April 10, with a talk on wage and hour law with Priya B. Vivian from Lane Powell, PC. The series continues through the summer with other relevant topics, such as performance evaluations, non-compete agreements, accident prevention efforts and more.

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Webinar: Anti-Harassment Training in the #MeToo Era

Whether this is your first or 21st 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 from 8-9:15 a.m., with a call-in option also available. Contact Bob Battles to learn more or Tommy Gill at 360.943.1600 for call-in information.

Tweet of the Week

Collaborating to Solve Problems

They Said It

A Presidential Change

"I think we've clearly outgrown the caucus." - Robert Cruickshank, a Democratic state committee member from Seattle, about the decision by the Washington State Democratic Party over the weekend to move from a caucus system of apportioning presidential delegates to a new primary system. The Democratic party made the decision Sunday during a meeting in Pasco, breaking with decades of tradition.

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Spring Meeting
Practical Education

Expand career-connected learning across Washington state

By Maud Daudon

If you're a Washington business owner or manager wondering where to find skilled workers, you're not alone. And if you're a Washington parent or high school student, wondering how to get from school to a great job, you're not alone either.

You may also be the solution to each other's problem.

Last summer, the Career Connect Washington initiative convened groups of parents to discuss education and career preparation in Washington state. As part of a 10-year effort, we are learning how to better help students connect to both jobs and advanced education so they will be well positioned to step into the state's job market. Business, labor and education organizations are all stepping up; we need the Legislature to act as well...

Read the full guest column in The Seattle Times
Fiscally Unwise

A Capital Gains Tax Would Not Improve Budget Sustainability

By The Washington Research Council

Although the March revenue forecast increased estimated state revenues for the 2017-19 and 2019-21 biennia, the House Appropriations Committee Chair proposed a new capital gains tax along with his 2019-21 operating budget. The Senate is also considering a capital gains tax, although in this case the proceeds would be used to reduce other taxes rather than to increase the operating budget.

A capital gains tax would be highly volatile. Taxpayers can arrange their affairs to avoid them, and the value of capital gains realized by Washington taxpayers varies significantly year to year. Also, swings in capital gains are much bigger in percentage terms than swings in state sales tax revenue. Volatile taxes require stronger reserves to manage downturns, but the House bill would avoid constitutionally-required transfers to the rainy day fund by directing revenues from the tax to the education legacy trust account.

Additionally, a capital gains tax would certainly be challenged as an unconstitutional income tax. Even if it were eventually found to be constitutional, a court case would likely mean that any revenues would be suspended until after 2019-21. Building the budget around such a tax would be risky at best...

Read the full report from the Washington Research Council
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