May 24, 2019
Grassroots Alliance
Connecting AWB With Local Chambers

Your Voice Matters During the Interim

Washington employers made a big impact in this year's legislative session. And you can still make a difference in state policy today and over the next several months.

Here are some ways you and your members can engage during the interim and influence the conversation in Olympia.

Connect Lawmakers and Local Businesses

The interim is a great time to show lawmakers firsthand how their actions impact businesses in their district.

The Legislature passed a 20 percent surcharge on many service businesses this year, a tax hike that will be felt by architects, engineers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals that are critical to a strong economy.

We're urging employers of every kind to invite lawmakers into their business to see firsthand the impact of this change in tax law. These connections on shop floors, in family firms and medical clinics offer invaluable context in the real world.

Photos are a great way to share this story, too. If you or your members have any pictures of legislators and business owners to share, please send them to Communications Specialist Andrew Lenderman at We'd love to post them on our website or share on AWB's social media channels.

Washington employers have a strong voice. Let's use it.

Major Tax Study Begins This Year

Heads up: A major tax study is about to kick off this year.

Lawmakers budgeted $2 million to continue studying Washington's tax structure with an eye toward overhauling it and possibly adopting a state income tax. This tax structure work group is a significant expansion of the group that issued a report last December. The new group will have eight lawmakers, plus a representative from the governor's office.

This is a big deal, and it's never too early to get involved. The appointments to this work group have not been made yet, and are expected to happen sometime this summer. We'll send updates on this critical issue as soon as we learn more.

Here's a short overview of what's happening.

The measure requires a work group of state lawmakers and others to analyze significant changes to the state's tax structure over the next two years -- and recommend sweeping policy changes.

Notably, the bill requires the state Department of Revenue and the work group to update the information from a 2002 study that considered replacing the business and occupation tax with a value added tax, and imposing an income tax.

The work group is also required to estimate how much tax revenue would have been collected from 2017-19 if the changes from the 2002 report had been implemented. And we can expect to see an estimate of what state revenues would have been if Washington had the same tax system as Oregon or Idaho.

The work group is required to meet at least once by Dec. 1 of this year, and issue reports in 2020 and 2021. Public meetings are also required in 2021.

If you have questions or want to discuss ideas in the meantime, please contact AWB Government Affairs Director for Tax and Fiscal Policy Clay Hill at, or 360.943.1600.

Grassroots Alliance Partners Made a Difference This Session

Thanks to all our Grassroots Alliance partners and employers who spoke up during this year's session, and special thanks to Greater Spokane Inc., the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce for partnering with us in a series of newspaper ads calling on lawmakers to exercise fiscal responsibility.

Washington businesses faced unprecedented challenges, but we were able to defeat many harmful bills and usher some needed changes through the system as well. After much discussion about a capital gains tax, lawmakers did not move forward with one this year.

Other victories include defeat of an insurance premium tax increase and a long-term extension of a lower B&O tax rate for the timber industry.

Lawmakers also pulled back major changes to independent contractors and restrictive scheduling and failed to pass a low carbon fuel standard that would have raised the cost of fuel without providing a transportation benefit.

AWB Leaders, Issue Experts Available to Speak at Your Chamber

Do you need a speaker for your next meeting? The AWB Government Affairs team, AWB President Kris Johnson and other leaders are available throughout 2019 to meet with your chamber to discuss everything from the legislative session to other issues that impact economic growth and opportunity in your area. Contact Bonnie Millikan or Vice President, Government Affairs Gary Chandler at 360.943.1600 to arrange a speaker for your upcoming meeting.

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Housing Forum announced for July 8

From Wenatchee to Seattle and across the state, workforce housing is a major concern for employers and families alike.

AWB has partnered with nine other public and private partners to host a Housing Forum this July 8 in Bellevue.

The forum will bring together problem-solvers from across the state in an effort to ensure a strong foundation for future workforce housing needs.

Register today!

Check out a preview of our July 8 Housing Forum.