March 2, 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

Employers and communities closely monitoring as COVID-19 cases reported in Washington

With six deaths and 18 total cases confirmed in the state, families and businesses are paying close attention to the novel coronavirus, which has arrived in Washington. Basic hygiene like frequent hand washing and covering coughs is the best defense against the virus, which is similar to the common cold but in a new form. And if you're sick, just stay home.

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House and Senate pass supplemental budgets, boosting state spending

With just 10 days left in the legislative session, the two chambers have released their budget proposals. The Senate calls for a 20.9% increase in spending, and the House version is even higher. Republicans have raised sustainability concerns, saying big spending increases will create new problems when the economy hits turbulence or the next downturn.

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Diverse sectors testify in support of aerospace tax adjustment

AWB joined employers from aerospace, agriculture and other sectors last week during testimony in support Senate Bill 6690. The bill will adjust aerospace business and occupation taxes upward to eliminate the possibility of World Trade Organization tariffs on a wide range of Washington products, from airplanes to wine. The Seattle Times added its support for the bill later in the week, urging lawmakers to pass the bill as proposed.

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Federal report rejects removal of Snake River dams

A federal report released Friday rejected the idea of removing the four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River, saying such a dramatic move would destabilize the electrical grid, increase overall greenhouse gas emissions and more than double the risk of regional power outages.

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Employers call on lawmakers to reject costly, inefficient low-carbon fuel standard

Hundreds of logging truck drivers from around the state rallied at the Capitol this morning in opposition to a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). They also testified in the Senate Transportation Committee when it held a hearing this afternoon on House Bill 1110. AWB remains opposed to any LCFS, because it is costly for drivers, ineffective at reducing carbon, and does not raise any money for transportation investments.

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U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer will join AWB Workforce Summit

Join us in Tacoma March 19 for a discussion on navigating change and finding effective solutions for today's workforce. The AWB 2020 Workforce Summit will dive into today's workforce challenges and provide attendees with tools that may help address those issues, including employment law, the skills gap, work-life balance, workforce wellness, and much more. Register now.

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Legislation of Note

HB 2957: Clean Air Rule

After Senate Bill 6628 failed to pass the Senate, negotiators from the House and Senate met to find a path forward. These negotiations resulted in a new bill, HB 2957. However, the newest version does not address the underlying concerns AWB members have with the bill, and AWB remains opposed to this version as well. AWB believes that any bill seeking to address the Supreme Court ruling should provide direct and specific legislative direction to the Department of Ecology (DOE). This new bill provides none of that legislative direction. It grants DOE even more open-ended authority. That could allow them to implement other policies, like a low-carbon fuel standard, by administration rule, completely bypassing the legislature. AWB remains opposed to this bill. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski to learn more.

Other News

Everett's Paine Field airport marks 1 millionth passenger

Almost a year to the day since its opening, the commercial terminal at Paine Field welcomed its 1 millionth passenger. It was a major milestone for the privately owned airport, which has become popular with travelers on the northern side of Seattle looking for a convenient alternative to SeaTac.

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Washington businesses are taxed more than the national average

Our state's tax structure relies heavily on businesses. Even before significant new taxes were enacted last year, Washington businesses paid about half of state and local taxes in 2018. That year, Washington ranked 6th highest in business taxes per employee, the Washington Research Council reports in a new policy brief.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation holds Early Childhood Ed Summit

The report AWB helped to produce, "The Mounting Costs of Child Care in Washington State," was featured prominently at the Early Ed Summit held last week in Washington, D.C. under the leadership of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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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

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

Join us on March 19 to examine some fresh solutions Washington employers are using in order to develop -- and keep -- a strong workforce in today's economy. With a welcome from U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., new collaborative elements, networking opportunities, and dynamic keynote speakers, you will benefit from greater connections and practical solutions for today's workforce. Plus, be the first to hear policy updates from AWB on the recently concluded 2020 legislative session. 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

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

Visiting Mount Vernon

They Said It

Keep the Dams

"This is a much, much bigger issue than the Snake River dams. If worldwide salmon populations are doing poorly because of climate change and carbon, does it make sense to tear out 1,000 average megawatts of carbon-free electricity? For so many reasons, it's bad public policy." ~ Kurt Miller of Northwest River Partners, which represents community-owned utilities across Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

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Workforce Summit
Stand by the Agreement

Legislature should take Boeing's deal and honor its own

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Boeing's strategic request to shut off an annual $100 million tax break can bring a welcome cash infusion to state coffers. The Legislature would be wise to accept this unexpected revenue on terms to aid Boeing's hard road to better days.

The consequences of linking a potential restoration of the tax break to new jobs guarantees -- as labor leaders asked -- could be disastrous to the state's business trustworthiness. Boeing has not violated the terms of the deal Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers extended in 2013, which include a 40% reduction to the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax for 335 aerospace companies.

Washington's relationships with its largest employers must be built on mutual respect and trust, rather than seizing any opportunity to shake out better terms.

Lawmakers should approve the tax proposal and invest the money wisely. If the bill passes as written, the tax break could be reinstated if WTO allows it. If that provision stands, the added revenues should be devoted to one-time needs. This could mean court-ordered culvert repairs to aid spawning salmon or buying new state ferries.

The business world is inherently unpredictable, and the Boeing proposition gives state government two opportunities to account for that. First, the state must demonstrate that it stands by its agreements to provide the certainty large employers require. And lawmakers should resist temptation to fund perennial needs, such as education, with a tax bounty a WTO finding could shut off anytime.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
No LCFS for Washington

Clean fuels standard too costly and not effective

By AWB President Kris Johnson

Whether part of a transportation package, or passed on its own, an LCFS should be rejected.

An LCFS would be costly, provide negligible reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and it would do nothing to improve our state's crumbling transportation infrastructure. In fact, an LCFS would actually threaten transportation funding by adding to fuel costs without directing any funds toward road improvements or highway maintenance.

While we can agree action needs to be taken to combat climate change, effective policies that work are needed; not costly mandates with minimal environmental impact.

Sen. Steve Hobbs is right. A statewide transportation package that reduces traffic and fully funds fish culverts would provide far greater benefits.

The LCFS is a flawed, costly, and ineffective carbon reduction policy opposed by thousands of Washington families, consumers, and businesses, and it should be rejected.

Read the full op-ed in The Herald