August 5, 2019
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Bellevue will have a year-round homeless shelter thanks to Washington employers

Microsoft and Puget Sound Energy were among 84 donors who have donated $750,000 so a Bellevue homeless shelter for men can stay open all year, The Seattle Times reports. And a team of builders, architects and civil engineers have donated their services to design major renovations and bring the shelter up to code.

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Many economists predict recession will hit in 2020, new Zillow survey shows

Half of the more than 100 real estate economists and experts polled by a new Zillow survey say the next recession will arrive in 2020, The Puget Sound Business Journal reports. One in five say it will probably start in the third quarter.

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Ron Bueing, longtime statewide and AWB leader on tax issues, retires

The longtime past chair of AWB's Tax & Fiscal Policy Council, Ron Bueing, retired last week after more than 35 years as a tax attorney. Bueing was a frequent voice for business in Olympia and helped develop a key manufacturing competitiveness incentive.

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

Christmas in August? 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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Speak Up on Overtime Issue
Solving Housing Issues


Housing: A huge issue for Washington's long-term economic health

By AWB President Kris Johnson

We hear about skyrocketing home prices in places like Seattle, San Francisco, and New York and shake our heads. Modest three-bedroom ramblers going for $1 million or more. Hopeful home-buyers engaging in bidding wars, sometimes buying houses sight-unseen, or skipping inspections to ensure someone else doesn't close the deal first.

But the lack of housing of all types is really a nationwide crisis, according to U.S. Rep. Denny Heck. Heck, D-Wash., was one of the speakers at a statewide Housing Forum put on last month by a coalition of 10 organizations including the Association of Washington Business (AWB).

The country is at least 5 million homes short of what's needed, Heck said, and the case could be made the shortfall is more like 7 million. "Supply is not keeping up with demand," he said. It only gets worse as Washington is expected to add 1.5 million people by 2040...

For employers, the availability of high-quality, affordable housing is a critical factor in the ability to attract and retain skilled workers. For employees, finding housing within the same communities as their jobs mean shorter commutes, more time spent with families and better work-life balance. And for communities, all these elements contribute to the quality of place we all desire.

Read the full guest column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World
Costing Jobs


One-size-fits-all minimum wage hike hurts rural Central Washington

By U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on the Raise the Wage Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, despite warnings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that this would result in the loss of nearly 4 million American jobs.

In Washington state, we have already seen how mandating a higher minimum wage is negatively affecting our economy. With a statewide minimum wage of $12 per hour, Washington mandates one of the highest rates in the country, and it will increase by another $1.50 in January 2020. In an attempt to address wage disparity in large cities like Seattle, which already institutes a $15 minimum wage, this sharp, mandatory increase has led to businesses filing bankruptcy, and it is already having a harmful effect on small businesses and nonprofits in Central Washington.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Columbia Basin in Moses Lake, for example, reached out to my office to share their concerns with the state's accelerated wage increases and about the federal legislation.

The Boys & Girls Club is already struggling, but further increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour for the entry-level employees they hire will force them to make a very difficult decision: raise participation fees for low-income families or eliminate the programs they offer.

Read the full column in The Columbia Basin Herald