February 10, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Legislation of Note Other News AWB Events & Resources Key Hearings/Meetings Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

Bipartisan Spring Meeting keynote speakers announced: Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

We are excited to welcome a slate of dynamic keynote speakers to Spring Meeting, including former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and political analyst Amy Walter. This annual event is where Washington employers come for insights into the economic and policy issues that impact their business. The meeting will also feature updates on how the 2020 legislative session will affect Washington employers. We hope to see you in Spokane May 13-14. Registration is now open!

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House, Senate advance bills giving more carbon regulatory authority to Department of Ecology

In response to last month's state Supreme Court ruling on the Clear Air Rule, committees in both the House and Senate are moving to give the state Department of Ecology more power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Since significant carbon reduction will require sacrifices from all citizens and the state as a whole, AWB is urging the Legislature to take the time to get this issue right, and not to rush a bill during this short session.

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Legislature sends expanded higher education tax to governor for signature

The House and Senate have both approved a bill that aims to fix administrative and revenue issues with last year's Workforce Education Investment Act, after demand for the scholarship was higher than anticipated. The bill changes last year's B&O tax. It repeals part of a surcharge but applies a 1.75% tax rate to a broader category of businesses, while exempting those with less than $1 million in gross income.

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Senate majority leader talks transportation challenges with employers

Transportation has taken center stage in this year's legislative session including Thursday's Lobby Lunch meeting. Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, spoke to a full house about transportation solutions, the low-carbon fuel standard, and taxes.

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WSDOT would abandon congestion relief and freight mobility under proposed bill

House Bill 2688 would remove "congestion relief" and "improved freight mobility" from the state's transportation goals. Instead, new goals would include equity and environmental justice. The bill would also transfer legislative authority to the state Department of Transportation.

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AWB Workforce Summit puts a spotlight on diversity and inclusion with keynote speaker Trinity Parker

Join us March 19 in Tacoma for a discussion on navigating change and finding effective solutions for today's workforce, featuring a keynote address from Symetra Life Insurance Company Senior Vice President Trinity Parker. Parker's lunchtime address will put a spotlight on diversity and inclusion. Other summit topics include employment law, addressing Washington's skills gap, work-life balance and wellness, and much more. Registration is now open.

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Legislation of Note

HB 2661: Increases eligibility for child care, early childhood development programs, and services for children and families

House Bill 2661 increases eligibility for child care, early childhood development programs, and services for children and families. It provides for increased rates, training, grants, and services for early learning providers. It also establishes new accounts and allowable fund uses. The solutions offered in HB 2661, including expansion of the Working Connections Child Care program and support for child care providers, will go a long way to increasing accessible and affordable child care in Washington state. AWB appreciates the inclusion of technical assistance for businesses to help support their employees who have young families. AWB would also like to encourage legislators to explore additional options to encourage and incentivize businesses to provide support to employees who are challenged with child-care issues. We do caution the establishment of mandates, entitlements, and new taxes. There must be a strategic and long-term solution to preparing our state's youngest learners to be successful members of the state's workforce, that recognizes savings in other aspects of our state's budget. SHB 2661 was heard in Appropriations on Thursday. AWB supports the policies of this bill with concerns about the costs and revenue stream. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 6209: Establishing the Nurse Licensure Compact in Washington

AWB supports Senate Bill 6209, which establishes the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) in Washington state. The NLC increases access to care, protects patient safety and reduces costs while supporting state-of-the-art health care delivery -- for today and in the future. The NLC allows for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) to have one multistate license, with the privilege to practice in their home state and other NLC states without obtaining additional licenses. The nation, and Washington state in particular, are facing a looming nursing shortage that threatens to develop into a full-blown crisis. According to a 2014 U.S Health Resources and Services Administration Report, Washington is projected to have a shortage of 7,000 nurses by 2025. In the forecast Washington ranks no. 45 in severity, with only five states being worse off. Thirty-four states have already signed on to the Nurse Licensure compact. SB 6209 is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

HB 2299: Creating prison to postsecondary education pathways

AWB supports House Bill 2299, which helps create higher education options in correctional facilities. The bill passed out of the House College & Workforce Development Committee last week. Executive action was planned in the House Appropriations Committee over the weekend. For more on how community and technical college education in prisons can change lives, read "Breaking the Cycle" in last spring's edition of Washington Business magazine. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

Other News

Department of Commerce awards $17.2 million for early learning facilities

More than 1,270 children across Washington will have additional access to high-quality early learning opportunities from a newly announced grant from the Department of Commerce.

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State economic revitalization panel seeking western Washington business representative

The Community Economic Revitalization Board is looking for a business representative to help shape economic development in Washington.

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Does your business help reduce distracted driving? The state wants to hear from you

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission is inviting employers to take part in a survey on ways to reduce distracted driving.

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Nominations sought for AWB's Board of Directors

As a member-driven association, AWB's diverse and robust Board of Directors is an important source of strength. Nominations are now open for business leaders from across the state, and from employers of all sizes, to serve on the AWB Board. The nomination deadline is March 15.

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AWB Events & Resources

NEW! AWB Webinar on SECURE Act legislation on Feb. 26

The SECURE Act Legislation (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) is a comprehensive retirement and savings law that went into effect Jan. 1. AWB is partnering with Integrity Financial to host a webinar on Feb. 26 to give you an overview of the new law and how the most significant provisions could benefit you and your business. Register now!

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HR & Employment Law Webinar on March 4: Paid Family & Medical Leave

Washington's new Paid Family & Medical Leave Act benefits are now available to employees. What's involved with this new law, which is paid for by both employers and employees? Find out in AWB's next upcoming HR & Employment Law Webinar, to be held on March 4. Register online for this and other timely webinars!

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Travelers Cybersecurity Symposium March 10

Is your business protected from a cyber attack? Join the Travelers Institute for Cyber: Prepare, Prevent, Mitigate, Restore, an educational symposium in Bellevue on March 10 helping organizations tackle evolving cyber threats. This national series brings together thought leaders from the public and private sectors to share insights into the current threat landscape and strategies to help prepare for and respond to a cyber incident. Co-hosted by AWB, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and the Travelers Institute, registration for this event is free.

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

AWB's 2020 Workforce Summit Thursday, March 19 at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center brings together new ideas and innovative employers to share tools to support the development of a world-class workforce in our state. With new collaborative elements and networking opportunities, you will benefit from greater connections and practical solutions for today's workforce. Registration is now open. Read more »

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

Supporting Economic Development

They Said It

A Very Heavy Lift

"Achieving just the first benchmark of this bill will be the same as removing every single gas-powered car, bus, truck, train, airplane from this state in 10 years." ~ Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for energy and environmental policy, as quoted in The Capital Press from his testimony on House Bill 2311, which would set the state's carbon reduction goals at 45% of 1990 levels by 2035.

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Connecting With Lawmakers
Trade Support Washington

Modernizing trade brings real benefits to Washington

By AWB President Kris Johnson

In December, Washington employers and manufacturers had a number of items on their holiday wish list. The reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) were at the top.

It looks like wishes do come true.

When Association of Washington Business (AWB) members traveled to Washington, D.C., for our annual AWB D.C. Fly-in last December, we met with members of Congress from both parties to discuss these and other issues. As one of the most trade-driven state in the nation, Washington has a lot at stake when it comes to trade policy.

The combination of the USMCA and extension of the Export-Import Bank charter are welcome news for Washington's economy and a positive way to start the new year. It's time to bring trade into the 21st century so our employers, our workers and our economy can continue to thrive.

Read the full column in The Wenatchee Valley Business World