April 29, 2019
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Legislation of Note Other News AWB Events & Resources Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

Legislature ends on time -- barely -- with 17 percent spending increase

Lawmakers passed a $52.4 billion budget with just minutes to spare on Sunday night, ending a fast-paced week that saw many Democratic priorities enacted into law. State spending increases by 17.5 percent in the next budget, with new taxes on businesses and fresh authority for schools to run higher levies. Overall, state spending increases $8 billion from the last budget.

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'Levy lid lift' adds new taxing authority for local districts, with some new oversight

With many school districts poised for teacher layoffs, lawmakers heeded a call to give higher local school levy taxing authority. Supporters say the bill was crucial; detractors say it returns to a system that gives more money to richer districts, with a return to the McCleary days of unequal, inadequate state funding of education.

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Transportation and capital budgets pass with bipartisan support

Both sides of the aisle worked together on capital and transportation budgets. These bipartisan bills pay for new infrastructure across the state and stand in sharp contrast to the large partisan budget passed in the final hours of the session.

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Lunch keynote announced, plus more on what to look forward to at Spring Meeting

The newly announced Spring Meeting lunch keynote, Northwest economist Bill Conerly, Ph.D., will provide insights from over 30 years of experience helping companies thrive in changing economic conditions. The May 8 keynote speaker will be Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations from 2017-19. These and other policy-makers and business leaders at AWB's 2019 Spring Meeting will have new information and ideas to help you and your business succeed. Register now!

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Spring edition of Washington Business magazine is in the mail

AWB's magazine is coming to your mailbox. The spring edition of Washington Business takes a close look at AWB's multi-year Grow Here employer image campaign. It also kicks off a new series, "How I Did It," with a profile of Seattle Chocolate CEO Jean Thompson. There's an interview with Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, a look at education and workforce, and much more. You can also read it online.

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AWB's Clay Hill looks at ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness of state spending

Washington's state spending is up by 44 percent since the start of the Great Recession -- but accountability hasn't grown with expenditures. AWB's Clay Hill looks at some simple but important reforms to help lawmakers ensure that state spending is efficient. Read the full blog post here.

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Legislation of Note

One hundred percent clean energy bill passes Legislature

A measure to phase out fossil fuels in power generation is on the governor's desk. Senate Bill 5116 passed out of the Senate on April 22 and calls for utilities to phase out coal by 2025 and natural gas-generated electricity by 2045. Most of Washington's electricity is generated by hydropower, but today there are still significant portions that come from coal and natural gas. Washington's utilities used coal for 14.64 percent of their electrical generation, and natural gas for 11.36 percent, the Seattle Times reported. "The act mandates that utilities pay an administrative penalty fee if they fail to comply with the law," the newspaper reported. Contact AWB's Peter Godlewski for more details.

Legislature passes Cascade Care, public option health insurance bill

Senate Bill 5526 cleared the House on Saturday, which would create a public option for healthcare coverage in Washington. The bill, which is now on the governor's desk, aims to decrease the cost of premiums, copays and out-of-pocket expenses for people who buy insurance through the state's Health Benefit Exchange. The measure caps reimbursements rates in an effort to contain costs. About 4 percent of the state's insurance customers buy insurance on the individual market, Crosscut reports. Cascade Care will be available to all Washingtonians, regardless of income, who are not covered by employer plans, state officials reported. State Rep. Eileen Cody said the plan should save consumers between 5 and 10 percent on premiums and combat future rate increases. AWB has expressed concerns that the bill would drive up the cost of employer-provided health plans. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

Other News

House Democrats to choose new speaker this summer

Longtime Speaker of the House Frank Chopp plans to step down from the leadership position after this legislative session. So far four main candidates have emerged in the race to replace him: Democratic Reps. June Robinson of Everett, Monica Stonier of Vancouver, Gael Tarleton of Seattle and Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma. Majority Democrats will pick their next speaker this summer.

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BECU opens storefronts at Junior Achievement facility in Auburn

BECU has partnered with Junior Achievement of Washington to provide more financial literacy to Washington's young people.

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Electric car manufacturer announces major project for Spokane area

An ambitious project by California-based Mullen Technologies aims to build electric sports cars in Spokane and create more than 800 jobs.

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Applications open for Don C. Brunell Scholarships

There is still time for the children or grandchildren of AWB members to apply for the 2019 Don C. Brunell Scholarship for Future Leaders. The scholarship, in honor of AWB's longtime former president, can fund up to $2,000 for students attending undergraduate, graduate or career/vocational programs.

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AWB Events & Resources

Protect your business by learning more about cybersecurity at special event June 19

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AWB are sponsoring a special event in Seattle on June 19 that will focus on how you can protect your business or nonprofit from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. Read more »

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

AWB's popular Human Resources and Employment Law Webinar Series continues on Wednesday, May 15, with a talk on performance evaluations, disciplinary action and termination with Britenae Pierce from Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC. The series continues through the summer with other relevant topics, such as 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. Read more »

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. Read more »

Tweet of the Week

Solving Problems Together

They Said It

Spending Increases

"We know the economy will turn eventually, and I don't think there's anything more painful than taking a service away from someone..." - Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, speaking against the Legislature's proposed 17.5 percent increase in state spending. He likened into to the big spending increases in the mid-2000s, which led to painful cuts after the start of the Great Recession.

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Spring Meeting
Teaching for Tomorrow

STEM skills vital to rural students, too

By Kevin Chase, superintendent of ESD 105

In the next five years an estimated 225,465 jobs that earn a family-sustaining wage will require credentials that many of our Washingtonian students are not on track to earn. In south-central Washington, 14,455 high-paying jobs will need a credential in the next five years.

I see the chasm between education attainment and how that translates to employment and jobs. We have to make changes in our education system that allow our families and kids to visualize their path forward and to have local employers be able to recruit and train their workforce in novel ways. Career Connect Washington, a statewide initiative, is bringing together business, labor, government and education leaders so that young people have the education and skills needed to connect with high-demand, family-wage careers across Washington and in the Valley...

Even though we are an agriculture-based region we are not immune from changing workforce demands, as agriculture becomes more and more automated. Our students are ready and willing to step up to the challenge of 21st century work demands. It is up to us to prepare them...

Read the full op-ed in The Yakima Herald-Republic
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