February 3, 2020
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Top Stories Legislation of Note Federal Issues Other News AWB Events & Resources Key Hearings/Meetings Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

House narrowly passes low-carbon fuels standard despite bipartisan opposition

Several notable members of the majority party voted against a low-carbon fuel standard in the House last week. The bill still passed, but in the Senate it will face significant opposition from employers, unions, drivers and others worried about adding more than 50 cents to the price of a gallon of fuel.

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Proposal would let King County tax employers based on employee compensation

A bill introduced last week in the Legislature would authorize King County to institute a new tax on employers who pay employees $150,000 or more a year. The tax is leading to fears of a "slippery slope" of such a law eventually extending across the state, with the dollar threshold dropping and more employers covered. A public hearing on House Bill 2907 is scheduled for Tuesday.

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Lobby Lunch: Wilcox encourages young people to consider careers in public service

Thursday's Lobby Lunch featured a packed house with business leaders and a large delegation from the Tri-Cities Legislative Council who were using AWB's offices in Olympia. House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox appealed to the younger people in the crowd to give public service a chance.

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Employers call on lawmakers to keep Washington competitive during annual Legislative Day

It was the best yet. More than 200 Washington employers and executives from local chambers of commerce travelled from across Washington to take part in AWB's 2020 Legislative Day and Hill Climb. Legislative leaders from both parties and Gov. Jay Inslee met face-to-face with employers to discuss the budget, transportation, child care and more. After a day of meetings and policy discussions, the AWB delegation packed the Capitol Rotunda for an elegant reception.

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Proposed bill would create a statewide manufacturing work group

House Bill 2879, which would encourage economic development through studying how to support the manufacturing sector, will have a public hearing on Tuesday in the House Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee. Manufacturers are encouraged to contact AWB about testifying in support.

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HR & Employment Law Webinar series: last chance to bundle and save

Don't miss out! This is your last chance to bundle and save on AWB's HR & Employment Law Webinar series. The package includes all six webinars, topic materials and wrap-up resources that will include all webinar materials, extra information and sample documents. Your ability to register for the whole series expires after tomorrow, February 4. Register now.

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Legislation of Note

SB 6492: Expanding business taxes to cover shortfall in last year's higher ed funding bill

Several AWB members have expressed concerns that they may potentially be impacted by this year's expansion to the advanced computing classification in last year's HB 2158, which funds higher education but isn't expected to bring in money to cover higher-than-expected interest. Several "cleanup" bills (HB 2468 and SB 6492) are proposed this year to bring in more tax revenue than last year's HB 2158 is generating. One of the amendments made in committee was to add back the advanced computing classification. This passed out of the Senate Thursday as ESSB 6492. AWB opposed HB 2158 and continues to oppose this year's ESSB 6492. These bills raise costs for a lot of small and mid-sized businesses, including doctors and clinics. "While we completely support the higher education policy behind these bills, we believe the legislature has the funds to support this program without new tax measures," AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz said. Contact her to learn more.



HB 2892 and SB 5981: Authorizing the Department of Ecology to regulate greenhouse gas emissions

House Bill 2892 and Senate Bill 5981 are responses to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the governor's Clean Air Rule. AWB testified that we agree this is an issue for the Legislature to address, rather than regulation by administrative rule. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski to learn more.



Forward Washington transportation package balance sheet is released

Sen. Steve Hobbs, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, will hold a hearing Wednesday on his Forward Washington transportation package. Hobbs has released the balance sheet on the $17-$18 billion transportation package, comparing it with his original proposal from last year. He has replaced the carbon tax with a cap-and-invest program that extends the time horizon out to 2035. AWB will testify with concerns, given the recent passage of a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in the House. While the business community believes there is a need for additional transportation revenues, the combination of passing an LCFS, (estimated to increase fuel prices up to 57 to 63 cents per gallon), on top of a 6 cent gas tax increase and a carbon pricing scheme, raises serious concerns from businesses trying to remain competitive. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more.



New 9.7-cent gas tax increase proposed to pay for culvert work

Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, chair of the House Transportation Committee, introduced his transportation package, which would phase in a 9.7-cent gas tax to cover the projected $3.7 billion cost to repair 1,000 culverts so fish can migrate. Fey's plan calls for a 0.7-cent gas tax increase then a penny increase for each of the next nine years. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more.



SB 6534: Ambulance transport quality assurance fee

Senate Bill 6534 received a public hearing and passed out of committee last week. The bill establishes an ambulance transport quality assurance fee program for Medicaid-funded emergency ambulance transports provided by private ambulance transport providers. The current reimbursement hasn't been changed in 15 years, so an update is timely. It's companion is House Bill 2846. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.



HB 1757: Addressing the employer status of franchisors

House Bill 1757 provides that a franchisor is not the employer of a franchisee or of the franchisee's employees under workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, minimum wage, and other employment laws. The bill, which AWB supports, had a public hearing today in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Bob Battles to learn more.



SB 6276: Concerning the payment of wages to freelance workers

Senate Bill 6276 would apply the minimum wage act to independent contractors. People hiring individuals as freelancers or independent contractors would be required to ensure the freelancer receives minimum wage. The bill lacks detail to how this will be enforced. Failure to comply could result in penalties and fines. A hearing is set in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee on Tuesday. AWB is opposed to this bill. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Bob Battles to learn more.



HB 2656: Reducing waste associated with single-use food service products

House Bill 2656, a single-use plastics ban, would restrict a variety of common food service containers, including many used for take-out or food delivery. AWB is concerned about the costs and impacts for consumers who order food for delivery or take-out. Other bills also concern the creation or disposal of batteries (House Bill 2496) and polystyrene (Senate Bill 6213). Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski to learn more.



HB 2310: Reducing emissions from vehicles associated with on-demand transportation services

HB 2310 would create a clean mile standard. The regulation was modeled from a California program intended for transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. AWB testified against the bill because it would affect a broader set of companies that provide on-demand transportation services for passengers, food and goods. Those concerns are based on the broad authority given to the Department of Ecology to collect the data, impose and collect a fee, and establish targets for greenhouse-gas emissions for commercial transportation service provider and food delivery providers. Any violations of the emissions standards set by Ecology would be subject to criminal and civil penalties under the state Clean Air Act. AWB's concerns have prompted the prime sponsor to remove "goods delivery" from the regulation, which is a positive step, but "food delivery" remains. Many of the same companies affected by "goods delivery" also carry or deliver food, so AWB's concerns remain. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more.



Federal Issues

President signs USMCA, a key trade deal for Washington

President Donald Trump held a formal signing ceremony on Wednesday for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, the revised version of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. For trade-dependent Washington state, the USMCA is an important trade deal.

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Congress addresses child care solutions

A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, was among several child care measures heard by the House Ways and Means Committee at a recent hearing in Washington, D.C. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed interest in finding solutions to America's child care affordability challenge.

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Other News

Child care crisis makes national news on the eve of Iowa caucuses

It's not often that the child care crisis makes national prime-time news. It did on Friday on the CBS Evening News, with a focus on Iowa -- just a few days before the state's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.

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AWB Events & Resources

Navigate change & find effective solutions at AWB's Workforce Summit on March 19

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 in person and by phone each Monday

Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz will hold weekly in-person meetings with a call-in option on tax and fiscal policy issues each Monday. Calls 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.



Tweet of the Week

Strength in Members



They Said It

LCFS Blues

"I left California 13 years ago to get away from this type of regulation, to get away from this type of taxation. It makes me shiver to think that we're doing the same thing to the citizens of our great state." ~ Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser, about a proposed low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) in Washington. A legislative audit of California's LCFS recommends the rule be modified or abandoned, as it is the most costly and least efficient way to reduce carbon.




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News: Legislative Day and Hill Climb
Focus on Puget Sound


Removing Snake River dams is misguided approach to saving orcas

By Todd Myers and Steve Martin

The struggle to increase salmon populations and help Southern Resident killer whales will be won or lost through recovery projects across the state, perhaps most importantly in Puget Sound.

That simple, scientific reality should guide salmon recovery in Washington. Distractions, like the destruction of the Snake River dams, will end up harming salmon, orcas and those who care about them.

The science is clear that Puget Sound is the most important source of food for starving orcas. NOAA Fisheries and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife ranked their sources of food for orca and found that the Puget Sound, Strait of Georgia, the Lower Columbia and the Fraser rivers are the top priorities. The Snake River ranked ninth.

This is why NOAA Fisheries has repeatedly concluded that destroying the four lower Snake River dams would have a "marginal" impact on orca recovery, despite a very high cost...

Todd Myers is a member of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council and environmental director of the Washington Policy Center in Seattle. Steve Martin previously served as executive coordinator of Gov. Jay Inslee's Salmon Recovery Office.

Read the full op-ed in The News Tribune