March 16, 2020
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
COVID-19 Federal Issues Other News AWB Events & Resources Tweet of the Week They Said It

Gov. Inslee limits large gatherings, closes schools and restricts restaurants to slow spread of novel coronavirus

Gov. Jay Inslee has announced bans on large gatherings and closed all schools across the state until late April. Restaurants and bars are prohibited from serving people in their facilities, although take-out and delivery are allowed. The measures come as cities and states across the country enact increasingly strict measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

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AWB to host second COVID-19 webinar on March 23

After more than 1,200 joined our teleconference last week with Gov. Jay Inslee and other state leaders, AWB will hold a second briefing via webinar on Monday, March 23, with more details relevant for employers. Learn more and register for the free COVID-19 Business Impact Webinar.
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AWB hosts coronavirus conference call with Inslee, state officials

Washington employers connected directly with Gov. Jay Inslee and other leading state officials last week to get the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. Inslee stressed the need to stay ahead of the situation.

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Programs offer relief to businesses facing COVID-19 impact

A variety of public and private resources are coming together for employers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal disaster loans, easier access to unemployment benefits and grants in the Seattle area are among the highlights. Meanwhile, Congress is working through details of a major federal aid package as of Monday afternoon.

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Legislature sets aside $200 million for COVID-19 response

Lawmakers pulled $200 million from the state's "rainy day" fund to address COVID-19. The public health system will receive $175 million. The remaining $25 million will go to a dedicated unemployment fund for workers affected by the novel coronavirus.

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Businesses support their employees, communities

From opening their parking lots for drive-through testing to financial support for their neighbors and flexible leave and remote work policies for their employees, businesses are stepping up to help during this unprecedented time.

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Kaiser Permanente in Seattle administers first-ever test of COVID-19 vaccine

Today the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute gave the first-ever injection of an investigational vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19. Four volunteers received the shot in the Phase 1 clinical trial. With further tests and trials required, a finished vaccine would be at least 12-18 months away.

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Washington Health Exchange offers special enrollment period

Businesses with employees who need health insurance might want to take note of a new limited-time special enrollment period in the state's health benefit exchange.

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Federal Issues

Congress debates COVID-19 response as President Trump says of pandemic: 'It's Bad'

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin were negotiating final issues today in a multi-billion dollar federal coronavirus response bill. Meanwhile, senators are proposing their own package, from a $750 billion response put forward by Democrats to a proposal from Republican Sen. Mitt Romney to send $1,000 to all Americans to stimulate the economy.

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Other News

Legislature adjourns after passing $53.5 billion budget with less new spending than had been proposed

The Legislature adjourned sine die on Thursday. The supplemental budget increased spending by $961 million. That's significantly higher than spending levels set last year, but less than lawmakers in both chambers had initially proposed.

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Transportation budget approved with nearly unanimous bipartisan support

Lawmakers passed a transportation budget last week that moves money around to compensate for the loss of tax revenue from I-976. The budget officially "unpauses" projects that had been halted after last fall's passage the $30 car tabs initiative. While the budget solves transportation issues for 2020, expect the 2021 legislative session and transportation budget to involve hard conversations and choices.

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THIS WEEK: AWB Workforce Summit virtual event addresses common challenges for Washington’s business leaders

You still have time to register! Join us from the comfort of your home or office this Thursday, March 19, for a discussion on navigating change and finding effective solutions for today's workforce. The AWB 2020 Workforce Summit will dive into some of the challenges employers face and provide attendees with tools that may help address those issues, including a panel of business leaders providing observations on coronavirus response and answering your questions on any stage of business growth. Plus, expert panels on employment law, addressing our state's skills gap, dependent care, work-life balance, workforce wellness, and much more. Registration is still open.

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Legislature passes bill to avoid WTO tariffs by increasing aerospace B&O taxes

Lawmakers approved a bill that returns the B&O tax rate for aerospace manufacturers to its previous level, a move that's expected to resolve a long-running international trade dispute and avoid retaliatory tariffs for Washington aerospace manufacturers, agricultural producers and other exporters.

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Rep. Christine Kilduff announces she will not seek re-election

State Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, announced on the last day of the legislative session that she will not be running for reelection this year.

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AWB involved as plastics issues come out of Legislature

The Legislature had a focus on plastics issues this year. AWB is involved with plastics-related issues in the legislative interim.

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AWB Events & Resources

COVID-19 Business Impact Webinar on March 23

After more than 1,200 joined our teleconference last week with Gov. Jay Inslee and other state leaders, AWB will hold a second briefing via webinar on Monday, March 23, with more details relevant for employers. Learn more and register for the free COVID-19 Business Impact Webinar.

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HR & Employment Law Webinar on April 1: Wage and Hours

Learn about the latest developments in federal, state and local wage and hour laws so that your organization can focus on compliance and avoid administrative claims during AWB's next HR & Employment Law webinar on April 1. There will be more relevant topics in the months ahead, including 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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AWB webinar wrapping up the legislative session postponed

Every year, AWB hosts a webinar for its members at the end of the state legislative session to provide an update on all the proposed and final bills that affect employers. The AWB Legislative Session Wrap-Up Webinar scheduled for tomorrow, March 17, has been postponed in order for our members and the AWB staff to better focus time and attention on addressing the COVID-19 outbreak. AWB will announce the new date once the webinar is rescheduled.

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Tweet of the Week

Connecting Employers With Information

They Said It

Providing Trusted Information

"I want to thank you for letting the public in on call. It really eased my anxiety. Not being able to get info that I trust was what caused (my anxiety). I am looking forward to future ones. I am 79 years young and have COPD. I have isolated myself. I go grocery shopping at night, wear gloves and so on. Looking forward to the call on the 23rd." ~ Sandy Roy, Sequim, who was one of about 1,200 participants in last week's AWB conference call with Gov. Jay Inslee and other state leaders on COVID-19. AWB is planning a follow-up call with details for business response on March 23. Click here to learn more and register for the free webinar.

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Our Best Selves

Coronavirus sparks an epidemic of people helping people in Seattle

By Naomi Ishisaka, Seattle Times columnist

The novel coronavirus outbreak has exposed the way in which people, guided by their hearts, are stepping up to support each other in extraordinary ways.

This pandemic has upended every part of our daily lives and sent social, economic and political shock waves throughout our society. Fear might bring out some of our worst instincts, but crises bring out the best in humanity as well.

In the days since the Seattle area became the epicenter of the outbreak, the outpouring of support has been moving and inspiring. On an individual level, people have offered free babysitting, cooking and food delivery for harried parents and medically vulnerable older adults.

The coming months will challenge us in ways we have never before imagined. But if we continue, as writer Sonya Renee Taylor said, to "put radical love into practice," we might emerge stronger than we began.

Read the full column in The Seattle Times