August 12, 2019
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Top Stories

DEADLINE TODAY: Get your tickets by the end of today for AWB's Federal Affairs Summit

We are looking forward to the 2019 Federal Affairs Summit, but you must register by TODAY! The event will be held at PNNL, operated by Battelle, Aug. 19-20 in the Tri-Cities. Join us to discuss federal policy and build connections with the lawmakers who serve Washington employers and communities. Register now!

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Appointed legislators lead after primary votes in 40th and 13th districts

State Sen. Liz Lovelett, D-Anacortes, and Rep. Alex Ybarra, R-Quincy, easily took the top spots in the primary elections last week to retain the seats to which they were appointed in recent months. In Seattle City Council races, business-minded candidates also advanced.

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Employers speak up about $80,000 exempt salary requirement

Employers told regulators last week that a proposed $80,000 exempt overtime salary requirement would hurt workplace flexibility and could mean cutbacks in employment. Hearings continue on the draft changes to the state's exempt-overtime rules.

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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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Other News

Public Works Board approves $85 million in infrastructure loans throughout Washington

Washington's Public Works Board has approved $85 million in loans for 30 infrastructure projects across Washington, from stormwater projects in Okanogan to roads in Camas.

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Premera Blue Cross Awards $10.5 million to boost rural heath care

Leading health care provider Premera Blue Cross has awarded more than $10 million to expand and improve health care in Washington's rural communities.

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Murray highlights new bill that would help close rural broadband gap

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA, visited Wenatchee last week to discuss the rural broadband gap and ways to fix it. Murray has introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019 to increase access to broadband.

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Whitman County Commission grants $1 million to boost broadband in rural areas

Whitman County officials have allocated $1 million in economic development funds to help the Port of Whitman County extend broadband to rural communities like Palouse, Colfax and more.

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Now more than ever, employee benefits matter

A new suite of employee benefit programs through Colonial Life can help employers give workers access to quality insurance options.

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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. Now is the 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. Register now!

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Tweet of the Week

Rural Broadband



They Said It

Cosmic Crisp

"People kept saying things like 'unprecedented,' 'on steroids,' 'off the friggin' charts,' and 'the largest launch of a single produce item in American history.'" ~ Words used to describe the Cosmic Crisp, a new variety of apple developed by Washington State University and available exclusively to Washington state apple growers. The Cosmic Crisp is a red apple with the texture and juiciness of a Honeycrisp and the late-ripening, long-storing qualities of the Enterprise apple.




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Connect With Congress
Solutions Needed


Washington's China trade dilemma

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Trade-dependent Washington state is in a tight spot as the U.S.-China trade war escalates.

Voters should start thinking now about what course they'd like to see the White House take if the trade war continues beyond 2020.

While just 37% of Washingtonians voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, the majority are now depending on him to successfully address China's ongoing theft of intellectual-property and unfair trade practices harming the state's economy.

Whether Trump's unpredictability, bombast and use of tariffs as a bludgeon result in a good outcome remains to be seen. Patience with his tactics will wear thinner if there's no progress this year and the U.S. enters a recession. Then the risk is that Trump caves, letting China off the hook and giving Wall Street a bump ahead of the election.

Both parties share some blame. The Democrats' 2016 presidential candidate joined Trump in turning against the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated by President Obama. That multilateral trade agreement could have prevented this dispute. It would have imposed fair-trade rules around the Pacific Rim. That bloc would pressure China to comply without resorting to blunt and painful tariffs. Still undetermined is whether Trump has the right strategy, tactics and execution...

Republicans must be ready to seek change if Trump fails, and Democrats must be ready with an equal or better strategy to address China's unfair practices and improve trade relations.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
Lawsuits Aren't the Answer on Climate


No Matter Which Way You Turn, Climate Litigation Hits the AEP Precedent Roadblock

By the Manufacturers' Accountability Project

Plaintiffs and supporters of the climate lawsuits filed against energy manufacturers are cheering recent decisions by federal judges to send cases in Rhode Island, Baltimore, and several California jurisdictions to state courts. The proponents of the cases are desperate to escape federal court, which have continually rejected climate liability suits. But, those cheers will be short-lived, as the cases have no more validity in state court. Mitigating the impacts of climate change is not a liability issue for either state or federal court. Selling and using energy is not a violation of tort law; it is necessary to modern life. Figuring out how best to address climate change concerns along with other key aspects of national energy policy, including affordability and energy independence, is the province of Congress and federal agencies.

In American Electric Power (AEP) v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court made these points abundantly clear, stating that the judiciary is not the venue for making climate change public policy judgments:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the unanimous majority opinion, stressed that setting national energy policy to account for climate change concerns was "within national legislative power," and that Congress and EPA are "better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case" decisions...

What has become clear is that climate change is a shared global challenge whose solution won't be found in a courtroom. Rhode Island and the other communities that want to do something about climate change should join with manufacturers on energy innovations, not target them for baseless litigation.

Read the full column from the National Association of Manufacturers