July 13, 2020
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Top Stories

After Seattle passes payroll tax, some lawmakers eye statewide version

The Seattle City Council last Monday passed a big new tax on high-paying jobs at large employers. Within days, Democratic legislative leaders suggested extending the tax statewide during the coming legislative session.

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Top state leaders join AWB to discuss child care and early childhood education solutions

Finding quality, affordable child care was tough before the pandemic. Now it's even harder. Last week AWB convened a discussion with state leaders, including First Lady Trudi Inslee, to discuss needs, opportunities and solutions.

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Join a diverse discussion on housing availability and affordability starting August 25

AWB is pleased to announce the 2020 Housing Forum webinar series. Last year, AWB joined forces with nine diverse business and statewide advocacy groups to start a conversation on the issue of workforce housing. This year we invite you to join us for a monthly webinar series, starting August 25, to continue that collaboration to address housing availability and affordability across Washington. Register now!

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Free webinar series concludes Wednesday with an essential guide to contact tracing for businesses

The COVID-19 Employer Resources Webinar Series is wrapping up this Wednesday, July 15, with its final episode. The weekly series has run since March, covering updates for employers on all aspects of the coronavirus response and recovery. Join our last free webinar for an essential guide to contact tracing for businesses. Register online now!

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Three weeks left to enter: Washington Excellence Awards and Manufacturing Excellence Awards

The Washington Excellence Awards program is your chance to showcase your Washington business. With three new categories for 2020, there are even more opportunities for your company to get recognition, and self-nominations are encouraged. The deadline to enter is July 31 and it only takes five minutes. Submit your entry or nominate a business now! This week, we are featuring three of our 13 award categories: Employer of the Year, Green Manufacturing Award and Operational Excellence Award.

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Federal Issues

Attorney General Ferguson files suit against rules on overseas students studying virtually

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he will sue the federal government over newly announced rules that would ban international students from the U.S. if they are taking online courses during the pandemic.

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Main Street Lending Program goes live

Eligible borrowers can apply now for the program, which supports small- to medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the pandemic. Relief for nonprofits is in sight.

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Other News

Phased opening may remain paused if cases continue to climb

If coronavirus cases continue to increase, it's unlikely that the current statewide pause will end at the end of the initial two-week timeframe.

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Amazon Air signs deal for 6 million gallons of biofuel

As part of its pledge to emit net zero carbon by 2040, Amazon has signed a deal with Shell to provide its fleet with up to 6 million gallons of sustainable aviation biofuel.

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Wells Fargo donates all PPP processing fees to support small businesses

Wells Fargo is donating approximately $400 million in Paycheck Protection Program processing fees through a new program to support small businesses owned by people who have been hit hardest by COVID-19.

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Washington receives $5.5 million to continue studying road usage charge to fund transportation projects

The Federal Highway Administration has awarded $5.5 million for Washington to continue studying road usage fees as a way to supplant or replace the state's gas tax to fund transportation infrastructure needs.

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Department of Ecology releases final report on 11 chemicals

Officials from the Department of Ecology will speak with AWB members on July 21 to explain their report to the Legislature, which was released last week.

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AWB joins PNNL in weeklong STEM class for teachers

A summer tradition went virtual this week as the "STEM at PNNL" teacher-scientist partnership helped connect public school educators with world-class scientists.

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AWB Events & Resources

Find help reopening safely with the AWB Rebound and Recovery website

Employers in towns large and small can find ideas, insights and equipment to reopen safely with AWB's Rebound and Recovery website. The site's PPE Connect directory and Business Tool Kit are helping employers equip their employees to safely operate. A new resources page has a variety of useful, constantly updated links.

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Connect with Congress on Aug. 11 at AWB's virtual Federal Affairs Summit

We are pleased to offer Federal Affairs Summit this year all online. Secure your spot now to engage with your federal representatives on Tuesday, Aug. 11. United Kingdom Consul (Business and Government Affairs) Robin Twyman will join us as one of our featured trade partners. Don't miss the conversation from the safe distance of your home or office. Register now.

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Tweet of the Week

Collaborating on Early Childhood Education



They Said It

An Incredible Career

"Keep busy and have fun." ~ Life advice from Tada Yotsuuye, 92, who last week became the first-ever Alaska Airlines employee to have worked 55 years for the company. Coming after nearly 20 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Yotsuuye has worked a remarkable 74 years in the aviation industry. "It's just amazing. It's stunning. This is a great company because of folks like you," said Alaska Air CEO Brad Tilden as he presented Yotsuuye, a line inspector in Seattle, with a diamond 55-year pin.




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Reopen Safely
Self-Inflicted Wound


Seattle's new tax pushes us to a tipping point

By Jon Talton

Seattle is facing more economic uncertainty than the "Boeing bust" of the 1970s, in a world where a pandemic and nationalism are combining to threaten a repeat of the Great Depression.

The unemployment rate is close to 14%, hotel revenues are off 85% compared with this past year, the lucrative cruise season is shut down along with a huge swath of businesses that can't work remotely or provide essential deliveries. All this is exponentially worse than during the Great Recession.

Amid this crisis, the City Council passed a tax on large- and medium-sized businesses with "highly paid" employees. I use quotes because the levy begins at $150,000 a year, which is hardly outrageous compensation in a city with so many advanced industries and headquarters.

The new tax will begin for companies with a payroll of a measly $7 million -- this is hardly confined to Amazon. No wonder it sweeps up about 800 companies and other entities (although some nonprofits may be exempted). And it is on top of the state business and occupation (B&O) tax and other fees...

The tax risks inhibiting business startups in the city. And the worst outcome would be the loss of major headquarters. These crown jewels generate good jobs and tax revenue, train leaders who go on to establish new companies, and provide disproportionate aid to the nonprofit sector...

Read the full column in The Seattle Times
Discouraging Great Jobs


Seattle's new payroll tax is bad policy

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

The Seattle City Council passed its latest iteration of a payroll tax Monday, a brazen move out of touch with the economic crisis facing the city.

Under the political cover of the COVID-19 emergency, the council voted 7-2 to push through a long-term tax on the city's richest employers for paying high-income jobs. The council has long shown a willingness to stretch to invent a rationale for an "Amazon tax," having previously discussed it as a necessity for addressing homelessness and other inequities.

Once again, the council machinated toward a tax while still brainstorming its goal along the way. But setting bad governance aside, taxing employers for providing high-income jobs within city limits could be ruinous for the city's, and region's, struggling economy.

The 800 or so businesses subject to the payroll tax -- Amazon preeminent among them -- now have incentive to take their highest-paying jobs across Lake Washington, or further. While other cities welcome well-paying jobs and court more of them, Seattle is punitive instead...

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times