February 24, 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

State revenues rise again, giving lawmakers another $1.1 billion beyond expected tax collections

Last week's revenue forecast gave the state's budget writers more to work with. Officials say projected tax collections will increase by $606 million in the current budget cycle, and another $536 million for the 2021-23 budget. The good news highlighted the position that with ample revenue, there's no need to raise taxes of any kind.

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State transportation leaders balance cuts, fish culverts and demand for new projects

The chair and ranking member of the House Transportation Committee gave employers an update on the state transportation budget at Thursday's Lobby Lunch. The committee is working carefully to cut projects in order to balance the budget after the passage of Initiative 976. Chairman and State Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, also said it's important to fund fish culvert restoration work. The House transportation budget was just released today.

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Lawmakers look to suspend preferential aerospace tax rate to head off possible retaliatory tariffs

Legislation introduced last week is expected to resolve a long-running trade dispute between Europe and the United States. Lawmakers worked with Boeing to craft a bill that will adjust the state's Business & Occupation tax rate for aerospace manufacturers, a move greeted with support from a wide range of Washington employers.

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The AWB Workforce Summit opening speaker will be daring

Join us in Tacoma March 19 for leadership insights from certified Dare to Lead facilitator Amy Leneker at the AWB 2020 Workforce Summit. This event brings together new ideas and innovative employers for a discussion on navigating change and finding effective solutions for today's workforce. Speakers will address some of the challenges employers face and provide attendees with tools to support the development of a world-class workforce. Register now!

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Legislation of Note

HB 2325: Supplemental operating budget

House Bill 2325 is the House version of the supplemental operating budget. The Senate is also expected to release its budget proposal today. The Herald has a look at what's known about the bills. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz to learn more.

HB 2311: Amending state greenhouse gas emission limits

House Bill 2311, is scheduled for a vote this Tuesday in the Senate Energy Committee. AWB continues to oppose the steep greenhouse gas reductions in HB 2311, which would require the equivalent of eliminating the entire state transportation sector's emissions by 2030. The proposed bill would require reducing the state's greenhouse gas emissions, starting at 45% below 1990 levels by 2030, progressing to 95% below 1990 levels, and at net zero by 2050. Contact Peter Godlewski, AWB government affairs director for environment and energy issues, to learn more.

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

House Bill 2892, implementing a Clean Air Rule (CAR), is still alive. AWB opposes the bill and is meeting with members of the Appropriations Committee to express our areas of concern. 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. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski to learn more.

HB 2409: Workers' compensation penalties, duties and licensing of third-party administrators

House Bill 2409 is scheduled for an executive session vote Tuesday in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. AWB is opposed to this bill, which concerns industrial insurance employer penalties, duties, and the licensing of third-party administrators. This bill is an unjustified, punitive and costly change to the workers' compensation system that would have an impact on all employers. The latest version of the bill changes the new fiduciary duty to a responsibility of fair conduct, removes elements of a violation of the duty, and applies the responsibility to employers and their representatives instead of employers and their lay representatives. Enforcement of this vague standard would be adjudicated by the Department of Labor & Industries and be subject to a penalty. Contact AWB's Bob Battles to learn more.

HB 1110: Low-carbon fuel standard measure still alive

House Bill 1110, implementing a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), is scheduled for an executive session Tuesday in the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee. AWB strongly opposes an LCFS for a number of reasons, including its major costs and lack of effectiveness. An LCFS will increase the cost of fuel by as much as 57 cents a gallon for gasoline and 63 cents a gallon for diesel, and will not direct any of that money to transportation projects. California has found its LCFS to be relatively ineffective, and the state's internal auditor has recommended it be modified or replaced. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more.

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

House Bill 2310 would create a "clean miles standard." The regulation was modeled from a California program intended for transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. AWB opposes the bill unless Section 7 is amended or removed. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more.

HB 2322: Supplemental transportation budget released

House Bill 2322, the supplemental transportation budget, is expected to move swiftly through the House Transportation Committee this week. The proposed House supplemental transportation budget was just released today. AWB's number one priority for the bill is to release projects that have been on hold since last year's passage of Initiative 976. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis to learn more.

HB 2907: Authorizing payroll tax in King County to pay for homelessness services

House Bill 2907 has replaced House Bill 2948 as the vehicle for proposed authorization of King County to enact a payroll tax to pay for homelessness services. For a comparison of the two bills, check out this updated side-by-side comparison. The proposal is expected to continue to change as the session continues. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz to learn more.

Capital budget request for early learning facilities

This past week the Department of Commerce announced $17.2 million in funding grants have been awarded to 39 early childhood learning providers through its Early Learning Facilities Program. AWB is supporting a supplemental request of $6.3 million from the Early Learning Facilities fund to provide resources to 12 additional projects, several that are under threat of closing if funding is not received. With the over $600 million in increased revenue, it is anticipated that these projects will be funded. The Senate capital budget did not include these projects. AWB is working with House members to ensure the funding is provided to these critical projects. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 6209: Establishing the Nurse Licensure Compact in Washington

The Legislature has missed an opportunity by failing to move forward on Senate Bill 6209. This bill would establish the Nurse Licensure Compact in Washington state. The Nurse Licensure Compact (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. This was a complete missed opportunity again in this session as neither the Senate nor the House bill were brought to the floor for a vote. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

HB 2556: Regulations in the child care sector

House Bill 2556, addressing regulations impacting the child care industry, was heard in the House Human Services & Early Learning Committee. Regulations impacting the industry have been a focus of evaluation in the discussions about how to address Washington state's child care crisis. HB 2556 creates a work group on the cost of child care regulations and implements a fundamentals of instruction program for early learning providers which would provide training for early learning providers to meet professional education requirements for the early learning providers. AWB has supported the general idea of the bill and agrees that the regulations governing the childcare industry must be evaluated while maintaining quality in child care and rigor in licensing procedures. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

HB 2864: Pilot program for summer Running Start

House Bill 2864 establishes, subject to state funding, the Running Start Summer School Pilot Program. AWB has consistently supported the state's dual credit opportunities, particularly the Running Start program, and supports this bill. HB 2864 was scheduled for a hearing today in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 6068: Sales and use tax exemptions for large private airplanes

Senate Bill 6068 will have a public hearing Thursday in the House Finance Committee. AWB supports this bill, which would extend the sunset on an existing tax exemption treatment for large private aircraft undergoing repair or modification. AWB agrees with a recent Joint Legislative and Audit Review Committee report that this tax policy is a dynamic means to diversify the state's aerospace sector. Contact AWB's Tommy Gantz to learn more.

SB 6088: Establishes a prescription drug affordability board

Senate Bill 6088 establishes a prescription drug affordability board and requires the board to identify prescription drugs priced above a certain threshold. It also authorizes the board to conduct cost reviews of drugs and set upper payment limits for state purchasers. AWB does not currently have a position on this bill. The measure is up for a hearing on Wednesday in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

SB 6097: Requiring the Insurance Commissioner to review health insurance reserves

AWB opposes Senate Bill 6097, which requires the Insurance Commissioner to review the surpluses of nonprofit individual and small group market health insurers. This is another attempt by the insurance commissioner to get to the reserves of the state's insurance providers. The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee on Wednesday, with an executive session vote the next day. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson to learn more.

Other News

Washington's budget process gets high marks in national survey

Washington's budget forecasting, budget maneuvers and reserve funds earned an "A" grade in a national survey, with other parts of Washington's budgeting process earning a "B" and "C" grade.

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Seattle nation's fastest-growing city

A recent study finds that Seattle was the fastest-growing city in the nation from 2013-18. Surprisingly, the fastest-growing age group was ages 65-74.

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State's snowpack at a healthy level after heavy winter snowfall

The intense storms of the past few months have done wonders for the state's snowpack, which is expected to pay dividends for agriculture and salmon this summer.

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Gov. Inslee visits SEH America

Washington's governor and first lady visited SEH America in Vancouver last week and heard from interns who have benefited from the silicon wafer manufacturer's strong internship and career-connected learning programs.

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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

This week: AWB members get complimentary access to webinar on SECURE Act legislation

The SECURE Act (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, free for AWB members, this Wednesday to give you an overview of the new law and how the most significant provisions could benefit you and your business. Register now for this complimentary event.

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HR & Employment Law Webinar on March 4: Employee Handbook

Learn about how to properly create an employee handbook during AWB's next HR & Employment Law webinar on March 4. There will be more relevant topics in the months ahead, including changes to the overtime rule, ways to properly handle performance evaluations, the latest on non-competition agreements, and more. 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 on Thursday, March 19, at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center brings together new ideas and innovative employers to share tools that will address workforce challenges and foster positive action on strategic workforce development. With new collaborative elements and networking opportunities, you will benefit from greater connections and practical solutions for today's workforce. Register now.

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Bipartisan Spring Meeting keynotes: 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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Economic development professionals to convene at statewide 2020 Economic Symposium in Pasco April 14

Register by Feb. 29 to receive 10% discount on any full day symposium registration. AWB is partnering with the Washington Employment Security Department to bring you the 2020 Economic Symposium, Connecting the Dots: Metrics that Matter. This event convenes economic and workforce development leaders to address key issues that affect all of us. Register here.

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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

Cutoff at #WaLeg

They Said It

Finding Common Ground

"Never personalize a disagreement with somebody over policy" and "never, ever stop looking for common ground, even with those with whom I disagree." ~ The two standards U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-WA, set for himself when he entered Congress. He shared those words during brief remarks in the Washington state Senate last week, where he was honored for a career of public service that began when he was elected to the Washington state House of Representatives as a 24-year-old in 1976. After sharing those two rules he set for himself, Heck added, "I offer that to you because if we are going to have a hope or a prayer to elevate civic discourse in this country, I think they are two pretty good touchstones."

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Workforce Summit March 19
Dams Support Communities

Oregon governor is off base. Breaching the Snake River dams is not the answer

By The Tri-City Herald Editorial Board

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's support for a future without the Snake River dams does not align with reality.

Her letter, penned to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month, stated that, "The science is clear that removing the earthen portion of the four lower Snake River dams is the most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery."

In truth, federal studies have shown time and again that breaching the Snake River dams would do little to boost the salmon population.

In addition to ignoring problems in Puget Sound, Brown's letter also skims over the looming power shortage that's worrying lawmakers and leaders of regional utility districts...

Read the full editorial in The Tri-City Herald