January 20, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Legislation of Note Federal Issues Other News AWB Events & Resources Key Hearings/Meetings Best of the Blog Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

AWB and employers win major court case on emissions

In a 5-4 decision last week, the Washington Supreme Court agreed with employer groups that the Department of Ecology exceeded its authority with its 2016 Clean Air Rule. AWB had led the effort to appeal the rule, successfully arguing that the state went too far in applying emissions rules to employers that are not direct emitters. The issue now moves to the Legislature.

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AWB joins farmers, trade unions, builders and others to oppose low-carbon fuel standard

In testimony last week, people from all walks of life asked senators not to implement a costly, ineffective low-carbon fuel standard. AWB joined the testimony, noting that a similar LCFS in California has been flagged by an official state audit as needing to be amended or replaced due to its cost and ineffectiveness at reducing carbon emissions.

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Heavy lifting begins as transportation budget talks focus on impact of car-tab initiative

State lawmakers began work last week on a transportation budget that cuts $454 million dollars to account for tax and fee revenue cut by Initiative 976. AWB is deeply engaged in the conversation, with a set of priorities for lawmakers and budget-writers to consider, including full funding of the maintenance and preservation accounts and full funding of projects of regional and statewide significance.

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Don't miss your chance to connect with lawmakers at Legislative Day & Hill Climb next week

The annual AWB Legislative Day & Hill Climb allows AWB members to take their business issues and concerns directly to our elected officials. Non-members are invited to register for the reception, but the Hill Climb and legislative update are reserved for members. 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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Lobby Lunch begins Thursday with governor's chief of staff

Olympia's "power lunch" returns this Thursday as AWB welcomes David Postman, chief of staff for Gov. Jay Inslee, for the first in the 2020 series of Lobby Lunch meetings. Next week, Republican leadership will join us on Jan. 30, with Democratic leaders following on Feb. 6.

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Legislation of Note

Early childhood learning

Early learning and childcare legislation is in abundance this session. AWB has been taking a lead on this issue, which is of importance to employers, employees, families and communities. AWB would like to see more support for employer-sponsored childcare programs and employers who provide resources and support for their employees child care needs. We anticipate a proposal for a capital gains tax to fund these efforts, but AWB believes that there is enough funding within existing state resources to address the immediate child care crisis without new or increased taxes. Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

HB 2376, 2408 and 2462: Health care licensure

AWB is supporting several bills that address the health care worker shortage by allowing Washington to participate in licensing reciprocity and provide governance for telehealth delivery. This is of particular interest to the military in Washington state. With military personnel changing stations every two to three years, military spouse employment is a critical issue in supporting the military personnel and missions in our state. AWB has been supporting the nurse licensure compact (HB 2376) for the past few sessions. The other two bills address similar issues for the health care workforce in the mental health (HB 2408) and emergency medical service professions (HB 2462). Contact AWB's Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 6411/HB 2620: Extending the multi-family property tax exemption program

The Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee will hold a hearing this Wednesday at 1:30 on Senate Bill 6411, which would extend the state's multi-family property tax exemption program. AWB has been discussing this issue and providing input on the bill development. The issue was also brought up during last year's Housing Forum as one of many ways to help lower the cost of housing. Contact AWB's Mike Ennis to learn more.

AWB working on a variety of privacy bills

There are a number of bills proposed on issues of online data privacy. These bills have the potential to affect even small businesses. Bob Battles, AWB government affairs director for employment law, is closely following this issue and is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Battles and AWB's Privacy and Data Breach Workgroup hold periodic meetings and calls. Contact Battles to learn more.

Federal Issues

Senate approves USMCA, sending the trade pact to president for signature

The replacement for NAFTA is now awaiting just the president's signature after the U.S. Senate voted 89-10 in favor of the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The bill is a big win for Washington state in particular, which is one of the most trade-dependent states in the nation.

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President signs phase one trade agreement with China

On Wednesday President Donald Trump signed phase one of a trade agreement with China. The deal includes a commitment from China to purchase at least $40 billion of U.S. food, agricultural, and seafood products annually for a total of at least $80 billion over the next two years, part of a total purchase commitment of $200 billion through 2021.

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Other News

Microsoft takes action on affordable housing

Microsoft has stepped up to help solve King County's affordable housing challenge by pledging another $250 million to its housing initiative. The company has helped create and preserve 6,500 housing units so far.

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Washington Research Council: What are the prospects for city and state tax increases in 2020?

While Gov. Jay Inslee did not propose general tax increases in his general budget, others certainly are talking about new and higher taxes. From Olympia to Seattle, the Washington Research Council rounds up the various proposals and the likelihood they'll be implemented.

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Alaska Airlines scores sponsorship of Seattle's NHL team and prime location in remodeled arena

Visitors to watch Seattle's new professional hockey team will pass through the Alaska Airlines Atrium as they enter the Seattle Center's new arena, thanks to a sponsorship from Seattle's hometown airline.

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Race for 10th District congressional seat becomes more crowded

Phil Gardner, former aide to U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, has joined the race to replace the retiring 10th District Democrat. He is the fifth candidate to join the race, and the fourth Democrat.

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AWB Events & Resources

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

Monday calls offer an update on health care issues

Learn about important health care issues during a weekly Monday phone call with Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson. Her weekly health care phone calls will be held every Monday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Contact Anderson to learn more and register.

Education update calls held on Monday mornings

Get an update on education issues with Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson every Monday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Contact Anderson to learn more and register.

Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee to confer by phone each Monday

Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz will hold weekly conference calls on tax and fiscal policy issues each Monday at 10:30 a.m. Each call will last no more than a half hour. Contact Gantz to learn more and register.

Employment Law update phone calls to be held each Friday

Government Affairs Director Bob Battles will hold weekly conference calls on employment law issues each Friday from 8-9:30 a.m. Contact Battles to learn more and register.

Transportation and land use phone calls held each Friday

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

Diverse coalition of family firms, unions oppose low-carbon fuel standard (w/video)

AWB joined employers, farmers, union members, builders and many others who spoke up last week about concerns with a proposed low-carbon fuel standard. A similar program in California was found to reduce emissions by just 1.5%, leading official auditors in the Golden State to recommend the LCFS be amended or replaced. Read more at Olympia Business Watch.

Tweet of the Week

Apples for the Packers

They Said It

Costly and Inefficient

"The ultimate result is that everything that gets shipped on a truck, which is anything that any consumer buys, including groceries and prescription drugs, will ultimately cost more, will act as a regressive tax." ~ Paul Graves of Oak Harbor Freight Lines, in testimony opposing a low-carbon fuel tax.

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The High Costs of LCFS
Supporting Farmers

Snake River dams must remain

By Reagan Grabner, a Pasco farmer

As a farmer who relies directly on the river for my livelihood, I am encouraged that we are engaging in such a robust process to understand the lower Snake River dams. At the same time, I am fearful that some of the aspects of the topic tug so directly on our emotions that we may, as a region, state and country, make decisions that will not stand the test of time.

I believe it can be simultaneously true that we wish something were different while not wishing that thing to be erased. I am told that it is without question that wild salmon populations are not as healthy today as they were generations ago. In addition, the enduring success and stewardship of a defining part of our region, orca whales, is a priority that few would debate. At the same time, it is arrogance to think that a complex system of dynamic variables can be largely solved through one bold action no matter how symbolic it may seem. Trying to turn back the clock of human civilization and destroying magnificent and productive works of engineering will not alone save the orcas. It will, however, undermine the economic and, more recently, cultural foundation of a region.

The dams embody the progress we can make together and I am confident that we can work within the context of the dams to accomplish worthy environmental goals ahead. The dams on the lower Snake River stand as triumphs of the American spirit in all its complexity and deserve to remain...

Read the full guest column in The Tri-City Herald