February 23, 2015
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Priority Legislation Other News AWB Events & Resources They Said It
Top Stories

U.S. labor secretary helps resolve port dispute; contract vote to come

The standoff between West Coast port operators and the longshore union appears to be over -- or at least ending -- after a contract deal was announced on Friday. This ends a months-long import-export slowdown that affected American employers, workers and consumers. Still, even after the five-year deal is ratified, major port backlogs could take months to eliminate. Read more »

AWB and other business leaders testify in support of Senate transportation package

The bipartisan Senate transportation revenue package received a strong show of support during testimony last week, but the House is signaling that it will use the package as a bargaining chip to increase taxes.
Read more »

AWB leaders, members visit Washington, D.C., to support renewal of Ex-Im Bank

From small manufacturers to farmers, aerospace to agriculture, Washington products are sold around the world thanks to support from the Export-Import Bank. This week, AWB is leading its second fly-in to Washington, D.C., to urge long-term reauthorization of this vital institution.
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AWB Tax webinar series: Sign up now for Friday update on legislative budget negotiations

AWB continued its three-week series of webinars on the state budget and proposed tax increases with a Q&A last week about the possibility of the Legislature creating a state capital gains tax. This week's webinar will update listeners on proposals for a property tax levy reform. Register today!
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Passage of tax appeals reform would improve state's COST rating from 'C' to 'A-'

Senate Bill 5449, a priority reform bill, would move tax appeals out of the state Department of Revenue and into the state Court of Appeals. Not only would this improve the transparency and independence of the system, it would also greatly improve the state's business climate, according to a national ranking group. Read more »

Priority Legislation

SB 6019: Reforming internal agency adjudication hearings

Last year's revelations about pressure put on a judge inside the Office of the Insurance Commissioner led to several calls for reform. SB 6019 would prohibit top-down orders that a presiding officer must decide a case according to the agency head's unwritten policies.

Read more »

SB 1354, 1355, 1356: Minimum wage, paid sick leave, retaliation lawsuits pass out of House

A trio of bills placing new mandates on employers passed out of the House Labor Committee, as expected.

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HB 2166: Internet Tax Freedom Act

House Bill 2166, which would extend the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act to Washington by preserving current tax treatment, had its first reading last week. Read more »

SB 5969: Timelier project reviews and predictability

This bill, which would require state and local governments to review the impact of regulations under the state's Environmental Policy Act, passed a major hurdle last week. It's an important guarantee that SEPA rulings aren't used to unreasonably delay or prevent economic growth.

Read more »

HB 1394 and SB 5921: Preserving the common law interpretation of vesting rights

AWB members testified last week on bills that would ensure predictability by protecting vesting rights for housing and other developments.

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HB 2134: AWB voices concern with wide-ranging tax incentive disclosure proposal

Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, is again proposing a bill that would require far-reaching information disclosures for employers using state tax incentives. AWB notes that such disclosures have an impact on businesses and are not necessarily aimed in the right direction.

Read more »

HB 2147: Eroding Washington's competiveness in the crucial aerospace sector

Thousands of Washington employers and hundreds of thousands of Washington workers benefit from the state's aerospace sector. Tax incentives that keep aerospace workers in Washington benefit everyone. A proposal to reduce those tax incentives would be the wrong direction for Washington.

Read more »

Other News

New forecast bumps up state revenue slightly

The Washington Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its quarterly state tax collections estimate last week. The council forecasts a slight uptick in state revenues -- welcome news, but not a game-changer.

Read more »

Benefit Solutions, Inc., earns air time attention after AWB award

Winning the AWB Innovative Benefit/Compensation Program award from AWB earned this Mukilteo company a profile on KING 5 News.

Read more »

RiverPartners ads for clean hydroelectricity debut during Oscar telecast

Television viewers of the Academy Awards in Washington, Oregon and western Montana not only took in the red carpet glamor and Oscar presentations, but they were also the first to see new Clean Hydro ads from Northwest RiverPartners. Read more »

Employers invited to participate in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act steering committee task forces

The voice of employers is important as the state works to improve workforce education and training opportunities. Take a moment to look over the opportunities to lend your perspective to workforce development programs.

Read more »

State program helps business owners hire and pay for trainees

Employers may be eligible for state help -- including partial reimbursement for wages -- for agreeing to hire and teach job candidates the skills they need to succeed. It's part of the WorkSource program. Read more »

Walmart announces plan to raise company's starting wage to $9 an hour for 500,000 associates

A half million Walmart workers will earn at least $9 an hour starting next April, and will make at least $10 an hour by early 2016, the company announced last week. It's a major move for the retailer, guaranteeing its workers at least $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

Read more »

Reps. Fey, Orcutt talk transportation at Lobby Lunch

House transportation leaders addressed a full house at last week's Lobby Lunch. The series concludes this week with a visit from the state's chief economist forecaster. Register today!

Read more »

Janicki Bioenergy eyes historic Sedro-Woolley hospital for major expansion

On the heels of attracting international attention for its innovative sewage Omniprocessor machine, Janicki Bioenergy hopes to turn a historic but long-vacant hospital property into a R&D facility employing as many as 1,000 people.

Read more »

AWB Events & Resources

Using Workplace Policies to Minimize Employer Liability: Training for Human Resources and Managers

Your company's policy handbook can be a great resource to ensure a well-functioning workplace -- or it can be a legal minefield. Register today for this March 18 seminar, presented by Selena Smith of Davis Grimm Payne & Marra. Read more »

They Said It

Port Resolution

"I think the parties have an understanding of the impact of this disruption. They understand that they not only have to restore service, they have to restore confidence." ~ U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, after negotiating a contract settlement ending a months-long slowdown at West Coast ports.

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Health plans are worth it in Washington

By Kris Johnson, AWB president

Washington's pioneering association health plans are a notable bright spot amid the complexity of health care reform.

A little history: Association health plans are the result of legislation backed by Gov. Mike Lowry in 1995 that encouraged small employers to join together in associations to provide good health benefits for their employees at an affordable price. Association health plans proved to be a hit from the beginning...
Click here for the full column in The Wenatchee World

Federal roadmap for energy infrastructure must not burden state trade systems

By Kris Johnson, AWB president

Between the news reports of back-logged commodities waiting to be shipped via over-congested rail lines and tales of our oil and gas renaissance in places like North Dakota far outpacing the pipeline capacity necessary to ship it to market, it's no secret that our nation's energy infrastructure needs updating.

It's also no secret that the needs of the nation are not identical from coast-to-coast. As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz rolls out the first phase of the administration's comprehensive strategy for modernizing the nation's energy infrastructure in a couple of weeks, it's imperative the administration consider the concerns of different regions of the country when making critical, long-term recommendations.

Click here for the full blog post in The Hill
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