July 8, 2019
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Housing Forum draws packed house in Bellevue as groups unite to address growing issue

Lack of housing of all types is a nationwide crisis, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck said Monday at the start of a housing forum hosted by an unprecedented coalition composed of AWB and nine other groups from throughout the state. Solving the problem, Heck said, will take bipartisan cooperation and a willingness to forge non-traditional partnerships. State Rep. Andrew Barkis, who has worked in the housing industry for years, joined Heck in opening up the daylong discussion that drew more than 200 attendees and coverage from KING-5 News. Read more »

Jerry Cornfield: 'Lawmakers did raise a lot of fees and taxes'

The Herald's statehouse correspondent rounds up the 51 revenue bills passed by the Legislature this session. "Democrats pushed major tax hikes past a resistant GOP," Cornfield writes, passing more tax and fee bills than any year in recent memory.

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Lamb Weston leading effort to design delivery-friendly french fries

With Uber Eats and other food delivery services on the rise, the search is on for french fries that can arrive at their destination with same restaurant-fresh crispness. Lamb Weston's innovation center in the Tri-Cities has come up with a solution.

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'It's a bit scary': Washington border retailers facing new reality after loss of automatic out-of-state sales tax exemption

As Oregonians lose their automatic sales tax exemption in Washington, retailers on the border are worrying about the impact of this year's change to a more complicated save-your-receipts redemption system. "The ramifications on our local businesses in Clark County are extreme," one retailer says.

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Save the date: Make plans now to join us for the 2019 Federal Affairs Summit

Mark your calendar for the 2019 Federal Affairs Summit. PNNL is hosting the event Aug. 19-20 in the Tri-Cities and it's presented by Battelle. Registration is now open! Save the date and secure your spot to #ConnectWithCongress on federal policy that may impact your business.

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Unintended Consequences

State's proposed overtime rule change goes too far, too fast

By AWB President Kris Johnson

If it's approved, any employer with salaried workers making less than that amount will be faced with the difficult decision to either raise their employees' salary to nearly $80,000 or convert the worker to hourly status. For employers who can't afford to give out big raises, they may have little or no choice but to switch employees to hourly status.

In theory, this could lead to increased pay for some workers, but that's only if their employer can afford to pay overtime. Small businesses, nonprofits and other employers that can't absorb the cost increase will likely cut services.

Even for workers who don't take a step backward financially, the change could feel like a demotion. Increasingly, employees value flexibility in work hours, particularly younger workers. Making the transition from a salaried job -- with the flexibility to duck out for a couple hours in the middle of the day to take care of family obligation -- to an hourly worker who is required to be in the office a full eight hours, without the option of working from home, will be jarring.

No one is disputing that Washington's overtime rule needs updating. But the state's proposal simply goes too far, too fast and risks harming the employees it's intended to help.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World