January 13, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Legislation of Note Other News AWB Events & Resources Key Hearings/Meetings Best of the Blog Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

Legislative session kicks off with speed as 60-day clock begins ticking

AWB's government affairs team is already deeply engaged as the Legislature officially begins its 60-day "short" session today. Hearings on major legislation and budget issues are already taking place this week. Your chance to directly engage with lawmakers is coming on Jan. 28 at the AWB Legislative Day & Hill Climb.

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Don't miss your chance to connect with lawmakers at Legislative Day & Hill Climb on Jan. 28

The annual AWB Legislative Day & Hill Climb allows AWB members to take their business issues and concerns directly to our elected officials. Non-members can register for the reception, but the hill climb and legislative update are members-only, exclusive-access opportunities. If your business is a member of AWB, register today! If it's not, click here to learn more about the benefits of joining.

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Rally planned as hundreds attend discussion to highlight costs and impacts of dam breaching

A "Know the Dam Facts" public rally in support of the Snake River dams is taking place this evening in Pasco, immediately before a public workshop to be held about possibly breaching the four hydroelectric dams. A hearing last week attracted hundreds of people, many expressing concerns about the loss of crucial transportation methods as well as electrical production if the dams are removed.

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Transportation budget takes prominence, with low-carbon fuel standard also causing concern

Legislative leaders are quickly holding hearings to address the supplemental transportation budget, which faces a nearly $500 million hole after voters approved a rollback of vehicle tab fees. AWB is watching that issue closely, and is also weighing in on proposals for a low-carbon fuel standard, which would raise the cost of fuel by around 60 cents a gallon -- causing the gross regional product to actually shrink.

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Legislation of Note

HB 2311: Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits

House Bill 2311 will have a hearing this week in both the Senate and House Energy committees. It is a governor's request bill, based off of his announcement in December for the need to further decrease Washington state's carbon emissions. The proposed bill would require that the state reduce the state's greenhouse gasses emissions, starting at 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, and progressing to 95 percent below 1990 levels and be net zero by 2050. Contact Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for environment and energy issues, to learn more.

HB 1738: Updating tax return filing thresholds to reflect inflation

House Bill 1738 is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in the House Finance Committee. The bill aims to relieve burdens on small businesses by updating the tax return filing thresholds to reflect inflation. Contact Tommy Gantz, AWB government affairs director for tax and fiscal policy, to learn more.

SB 5565: Direct contractor liability for payment of wages and benefits

Senate Bill 5565, a bill which did not advance in 2019, is scheduled for a public hearing on Thursday. SB 5565 would allow the Department of Labor & Industries to enforce against a general contractor to pay unpaid wages owed by a subcontractor, and would allow lawsuits against a general contractor for wages owed by a subcontractor. AWB opposed the bill in 2019. Thursday's hearing is scheduled for 8 a.m. in the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce. Contact Bob Battles, AWB government affairs director for workplace law, to learn more.

Other News

New report: Washington should have built 225,600 more homes in past 15 years

With housing affordability an issue across the state, a new report details just how much Washington's housing supply has failed to keep up with demand. Washington is ranks eighth in America for underproduction of homes, according to the national report. As lawmakers on both sides look at the issue, AWB is planning a second statewide Housing Forum this summer to bring together thought leaders and legislators to find solutions.

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Heritage Distilling joins new community college education center in Tumwater

Heritage Distilling has partnered with South Puget Sound Community College and Ninkasi Brewing on a new brewing and distilling education center. The center is scheduled to open this spring in Tumwater.

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Washington ranked No. 8 for business by Forbes magazine

Forbes magazine recently gave Washington the 8th-"Best State for Business" ranking for 2019. Washington scored high in economic climate and growth categories, but much lower in regulations and quality of life .

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AWB Events & Resources

AWB Lobby Lunch begins Jan. 23 with officials from the governor's office

Olympia's "power lunch" returns Jan. 23 as AWB welcomes the governor's office for the first in the 2020 series of Lobby Lunches. Read more »

Just announced! March 19: Navigating change & finding effective solutions for today's workforce

Mark your calendars for March 19 and join us in Tacoma for a series of discussions on navigating change and finding effective solutions for today's workforce. The AWB 2020 Workforce Summit at the Tacoma Convention Center will dive into some of the challenges employers face and the policy issues that may impact those issues. Registration is now open.

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Key Hearings/Meetings

AWB to hold weekly phone calls on transportation and land use

Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis will hold weekly conference calls on two of his issue areas -- transportation and land use -- each Friday morning. He'll cover transportation at 9 a.m., and then a separate call will cover land use at 10 a.m. Each call will last about half an hour as he leads participants in going through relevant bills, formulating a position, and discussing testimony during public hearings. Contact Ennis to learn more and register.

Best of the Blog

AWB kicks off 2020 session with a focus on statewide prosperity

The employer's voice in Olympia got right to work as the Legislature kicked off its 2020 session today. AWB's Government Affairs team has a broad agenda this year to help keep Washington a competitive place to do business. Read more at Olympia Business Watch.

Tweet of the Week

Finding Solutions

They Said It

And We're Off

"This is going to be a sprint." ~ Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, about the pace of this year's 60-day legislative session, which began today. AWB's Government Affairs team is already at full speed, with plans to testify on more than a half-dozen bills this week.

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Tell Your Story
Effective Workforce Education

Path to apprenticeships now starts at high school

By Nate Nehring, a Snohomish County Council member

A four-year university education can be valuable for some, but many could benefit from greater access to pathways into the trades. While many college graduates now work minimum wage jobs and are burdened with student debt, high-paying trades jobs with competitive benefits sit empty.

In Snohomish County, we are working proactively to increase access to family-wage careers. Over the last two years, we have built a coalition of representatives from labor, industry and education. Community leaders from these sectors have come together to talk about how we can work together to provide meaningful solutions to the problem of a workforce shortage. What began as a group of stakeholders around a table has resulted in the creation of the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Program, which is being hailed as a potential statewide model for workforce development.

As a result of in-depth discussions between sectors and site tours of existing workforce development programs, the concept of a pre-apprenticeship program within the high school setting was organically produced. There currently exists several state-certified apprenticeship programs for a variety of skilled trades, from carpenters to electricians to laborers. What has been lacking is a pipeline of students with the basic skills and confidence to pursue these apprenticeship programs. The average apprentice is in his or her late 20s before beginning a program, representing an entire lost decade of post-high school productivity. As a group, our goal has been to bridge that 10-year gap...

Read the full guest column in The (Everett) Herald