July 29, 2019
Fast Facts
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Top Stories

New legislators added to speaker lineup for Federal Affairs Summit

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-WA, joins the lineup of confirmed speakers at this year's Federal Affairs Summit. Nearly half of Washington's congressional delegation has now confirmed they will join the event held at PNNL, operated by Battelle, Aug. 19-20 in the Tri-Cities. This is your chance to build connections with the lawmakers who serve Washington employers and communities, all under one roof. Come away informed. Register now online!

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Two former White House chiefs of staff will give Policy Summit keynote address

Take a look inside life in the Oval Office with the keynote speakers at this year's Policy Summit. Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff from 2013-2017, and Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff in 2017 and longtime chairman of the Republican National Committee, will join dozens of other compelling speakers at Suncadia Resort for this year's AWB Policy Summit. Register now!

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Liquid natural gas plant in Tacoma moves closer to final approval

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency has preliminarily approved the last major permit that Puget Sound Energy needs to build a liquid natural gas (LNG) plant on the Tacoma tideflats. The fuel stored there will allow TOTE Maritime to end its use of bunker fuel in favor of much cleaner LNG. The tideflats storage facility will also provide backup storage for the region's natural gas supply, ensuring greater reliability during periods of high demand.

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Democrats prepare to choose a new Speaker of the House

House Democrats are expected to vote this week on the new Speaker of the House. The winner will be the state's first-ever woman to hold the position. There are indications that the new speaker will also be the first in a generation not to be a resident of Seattle, at a time when the Democratic caucus is becoming more Seattle-centric.

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Bipartisan group of senators push for 10-year renewal of Ex-Im Bank

With its authorization set to end by Sept. 31, the push is on to renew the Export-Import Bank. U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, D-WA, both signed on as co-sponsors of a bill that would renew the bank's charter for 10 years and increase its credit assistance authority. The Ex-Im Bank supports thousands of export-dependent manufacturing jobs in Washington state at hundreds of firms.

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Federal Issues

House passes budget deal, lift of debt ceiling, with president in support

After a deal last week between congressional leaders and the president, the U.S. House easily passed a two-year budget deal and increase in the nation's debt limit. The measure, passed with mostly Democratic support, pushes a fight over the "debt ceiling" past the 2020 election.

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What are the impacts of latest 'Buy American' executive order?

Earlier this month, the president issued an executive order that builds on two prior "Buy American" executive orders and recommends changes to the Buy American Act of 1933. A new update from K&L Gates has the details on what employers need to know about this new rule.

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Other News

New law takes effect, barring employers from asking applicants about salary history

As of yesterday, it is now illegal for employers to ask for a job applicant's wage or salary history, except under certain conditions. It's also illegal in most cases for a new employer to ask a previous employer for wage/salary history. And if a current employee transfers internally, they can request the new position's wage/salary schedule.

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Updated lead rules could impose expansive new requirements for nearly all Washington employers

The Department of Labor & Industries' Division of Occupational Safety and Health is finalizing an update to its draft lead rule for release in the coming weeks. There is concern that the rule would cover nearly every employer in the state and impose a new set of testing and medical coverage requirements for those employers.

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Puget Sound Clean Air Agency moving quickly toward low-carbon fuel standard

Officials with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency are moving quickly to adopt a regional low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). Their current proposal requires a 25% carbon intensity reduction, which is more strict than California and Oregon’s LCFS, and they assume no major economic impact, which is also a major departure from the experiences found in California and Oregon.

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Local fire departments urged to apply to be part of the Holiday Kids' Tree Project

Christmas in July? No, but it is time to start thinking about the annual Holiday Kids' Tree Project. AWB members have donated more than $420,000 over the past 30 years to help families in need during the holiday season. Fire departments help us distribute that money in the form of toys and gifts. It's time for rural fire districts to apply to be part of this year's program. Employers with contacts in the firefighting community are being asked to spread the word.

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AWB Events & Resources

Get to know the people who represent you in the national government at AWB's Federal Affairs Summit

Mark your calendar for the 2019 Federal Affairs Summit. The event will be held at PNNL, operated by Battelle, Aug. 19-20 in the Tri-Cities. Your voice is essential in informing our state representatives about the policies and initiatives that will allow our state to thrive, so secure your spot to #ConnectWithCongress on federal policy that may impact your business. Registration is now open!

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Tweet of the Week

Connect With Congress

They Said It

Fake Carpool Passengers

"Some folks get very creative. We've seen mannequins, sleeping bags propped up with hats, articles of clothing, duffel bags, Halloween masks on bags. You name it, we've seen it. " ~ Guy Gill, a former Washington State Patrol spokesman, discussing ways people have used fake passengers to cheat their way into the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane. A new state law that went into effect yesterday will add escalating penalties for HOV scammers, plus a $200 additional fine for people using a dummy, doll or other fake passenger.

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Connect With Congress

It's hard to believe, but state officials rejected their own water standards

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed that a state water quality plan crafted three years ago is acceptable -- reversing its previous ruling.

You would think that would be good news...

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a lawsuit challenging the change, claiming it is in violation of the Clean Water Act. Ferguson now has filed 39 lawsuits against the Trump Administration.

Gov. Jay Inslee called the move, "The latest step in an unprecedented assault from the Trump Administration on the right of states to protect their waters and communities ... it is clear the Clean Water Act is now under direct and sustained attack by the federal government."

Keep in mind what they are objecting to -- our own state plan that took years to hammer out and that managed to strike a balance between the tribes, environmental groups and industry officials...

It is hard to believe state officials truly believe the 2016 state water quality standards -- that took years to negotiate -- are no longer good enough...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald
Powering Our Economy

BPA remains valuable to Pacific Northwest

By The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Editorial Board

The Pacific Northwest's hydroelectric power is clean and renewable. It's also plentiful -- at least right now.

But as times change and the infrastructure of the dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers age -- along with the power-generating equipment inside them -- the energy produced may decline as the cost to provide it rises...

The continued success of the Bonneville Power Administration is essential to ensure consistent, clean, renewable power. Since BPA is ultimately controlled by the government, the rates it charges are carefully monitored and, over time, are generally consumer-friendly.

In addition, BPA's transmission system is critical to the delivery of power in the region. It not only makes economic sense, but having it under control of a government agency is essential for national security.

Read the full editorial in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin