May 20, 2019
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Top Stories

Housing Forum announced for July 8, with focus on affordable workforce housing solutions

In an unprecedented collaboration, AWB and nine other diverse business and statewide advocacy groups are joining forces to host a forum on housing availability and affordability July 8 in Bellevue. The forum will bring together problem-solvers from across the state and political spectrum to make headway on ensuring affordable housing for workforce and families in all the state's communities. Register today!

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Nearly 40 lawmakers from both parties ask Gov. Inslee to veto sales tax increase aimed at border communities

Employers and chambers are being urged to contact Gov. Jay Inslee to ask him to veto a tax that would hit retailers and employers in border communities. The provision would end the sales tax exemption on out-of-state shoppers, creating a competitive disadvantage for businesses on this side of the state border.

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Snake River dam removal would be a serious problem for hydropower and ag, with little help for salmon and orcas

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., hosted a discussion last week and answered questions from about 100 attendees about salmon, energy, transportation and the lower Snake River dams. Their conclusion: removing dams wouldn't really help salmon and orcas, and would hurt a vast swath of the region.

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Budget analysis shows 18% state tax and spending increases 'unlikely to be sustainable'

The Washington Research Council's latest policy brief looks at the state's newly approved $52.9 billion budget. That is 18.3% bigger than the current budget and the biggest increase in at least 25 years. After four years of double-digit spending increases in Olympia, the next economic downturn is likely to make this budget unsustainable, the researchers conclude.

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Employers and farmers applaud EPA for restoring Washington's 2016 water quality rules

Washington state can use the water quality rules it established in 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled. AWB, farmers and other employer advocates say that's the right decision to ensure both that waters are clean and that businesses can actually achieve the water quality standards.

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Federal Issues

Trade relations ease with Canada and Mexico, but no resolution with China in sight

On Friday the Trump administration lifted import taxes on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum, and delayed auto tariffs that would have hurt Japan and Europe. In return, Canada and Mexico agreed to lift retaliatory tariffs they had imposed on U.S. goods. Meanwhile, in U.S.-China relations, trade negotiations are stalled and Chinese leaders are reviving revolution-era language, telling citizens to prepare for a "Long March."

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Other News

Washington ranked No. 1 in Best States Rankings

High marks in healthcare, education and the economy helped Washington earn the top spot in this year's U.S. News & World Report Best State Rankings.

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Washington drought covers 70% of state, more than half of population

Dry conditions cover a large swath of Washington as the state heads into the 2019 fire season. The state has lower than normal snowpack, especially in the northern Cascades.

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State officials say Washington added 13,500 jobs in April

Washington has seen an increase of 83,100 jobs over the past year, with 13,500 added last month.

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Rep. Pellicciotti announces run for state treasurer

State Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way, has announced that he will challenge incumbent state Treasurer Duane Davidson, a Benton County Republican serving his first term in office. Pellicciotti is the first announced challenger in the race.

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Amazon donates $3 million to Seattle University's science and innovation center

Amazon is supporting the future STEM workforce with a $3 million donation to Seattle University's new Center for Science and Innovation, which will expand computer science and engineering education.

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MOD Pizza creates new design, experience at Pioneer Square store

MOD Pizza, one of the employers featured in AWB's Grow Here campaign, has created a dramatically different design for a new store in Seattle's Pioneer Square, with a game day television, two ovens and most importantly more room for training.

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Attorney General's Office reminds employers of 'ban the box' requirements

Since last year, Washington employers have been prohibited from automatically excluding job applicants with a criminal record from consideration. The Attorney General's Office has a new one-page flyer explaining the requirements of the Fair Chance Act.

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Oregon Senate approves major education, tax measures

Businesses in Oregon will face new taxes after Democrats there passed a major education package out of the Oregon state senate last week. The bill is funded by a new commercial activity tax on Oregon businesses that will raise about $1.6 billion over the next two years for education.

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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's HealthChoice plan includes access to meQuilibrium, a personalized resilience-building program

The AWB HealthChoice plan provides access to high-quality medical benefits -- and much more. One of the programs included in HealthChoice is a personalized and confidential resilience-building program called meQuilibrium.

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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 Wednesday, June 12, with a talk on non-competes, confidentiality agreements, non-solicitations and intellectual property protection with Amy Mensik and William Symmes, Witherspoon Kelley. The series concludes July 10 with a talk on accident prevention and accident investigation plans.

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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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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.

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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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Tweet of the Week

Unsustainable Budget

They Said It

Losing Foreign Markets

"They spoke to me very frankly. If these tariffs go in and their price goes up, they've got to look for sources elsewhere." ~ Bill Bloxom, describing a conversation that two Chinese businessmen had with him during a visit earlier this month to his Seattle-based exporting firm, FC Bloxom & Co. For years these men have purchased massive quantities of apples, sweet cherries and other produce for customers in China, but that longtime relationship is threatened by rising trade tensions between the United States and China.

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Housing Forum
Moving Backward

Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma

By The Seatte Times Editorial Board

Gov. Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.

But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.

Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.

That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also had put Inslee in conflict with one of the state's wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.

Moving goal posts late in the game may discourage companies from innovating and investing in cleaner ways of doing business, at least in Washington....

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
A New Challenge for Border Towns

Lawmakers changed the sales tax exemption. Will Oregon residents still want to shop Tri-Cities?

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Of all the new, last-minute tax measures approved by the Legislature two weeks ago, one in particular likely will cause headaches for Mid-Columbia retailers in coming months.

Oregon residents will no longer get a sales tax exemption right away at a Tri-Cities checkout counter.

Thanks to ESSB 5997, out-of-state shoppers will have to pay the sales tax upfront, save their receipts and file for a one-time, yearly reimbursement from the state of Washington.

They will qualify only if the amount they are requesting exceeds $25.

Clay Hill, government affairs director for the Association of Washington Business, said approval of ESSB 5997 was "especially disheartening" because there was a unified voice of opposition by business and retail organizations.

Democratic lawmakers are betting they will raise $53 million for a two-year budget from out-of-state shoppers who don't turn in their paperwork or who don't meet the $25 minimum threshold.

But it is the border communities that will pay the biggest price for the tax grab, and it isn't right to put the burden primarily on the edges of the state.

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
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