February 8, 2016
Fast Facts
Bringing Business Up to Speed
Top Stories Priority Legislation Key Hearings/Meetings Other News AWB Events & Resources AWB Institute Tweet of the Week They Said It
Top Stories

Senate votes to remove WSDOT head three years after her appointment

The Senate on Friday afternoon voted to remove Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Secretary Lynn Peterson from office. After hours of discussion on whether to confirm the appointment, the Senate voted to deny the confirmation of Peterson. A day later, the head of the Department of Corrections also stepped down.
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Employers, organized labor join to call for regulatory reforms and "shot clock" on decisions

After business and labor union leaders agreed on the need for reform of the environmental review process, the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee voted last week in favor of Senate Bill 6527. The Keep Washington Competitive coalition will continue to support the bill as it moves forward. Read more »

GOP leaders speak at Lobby Lunch; Democratic leaders to speak this week

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, Senate Caucus Chair Linda Evans Parlette, House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, and House Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox spoke last week at Lobby Lunch. Democratic leaders will speak this Thursday. Reserve your space today! Read more »

Washington employers' share of state, local taxes grows to 58 percent

Data compiled from the Council on State Taxation (COST) and the Tax Foundation finds that employers now pay 58 percent of all state and local taxes, up from 54 percent in the previous calculations. Read more »

Department of Ecology releases formal draft of proposed water quality rule

The Department of Ecology released its proposed new water quality rule last week, setting up a potential standard that would be both costly and unattainable. The costs would add up for utility customers and employers across the state. Read more »

Priority Legislation

AWB, employers to testify Tuesday on Initiative 732's carbon tax proposal

The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on Initiative 732, the carbon tax proposal to the Legislature. AWB will lead a panel of employers to testify about the impacts the initiative would have on the state's competitiveness.
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Key Hearings/Meetings

Join AWB's Friday morning legislative update conference call

Want to learn what happened this week and what's ahead in the Legislature? Join AWB's 30-minute Friday Phone Briefing at 8 a.m. Our government affairs team offers a quick update on the week's legislative news and insights into what lawmakers will discuss in the week ahead. Read more »

Other News

Health Care Authority budget is hundreds of millions of dollars in the red

Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler calls it a "$481 million bogey" -- over-budget spending by the Health Care Authority (HCA) that has eaten up additional state revenues and then some. The cost overruns by the HCA add a sour note to recent news that the state's rate of uninsured residents has declined.
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More moves in the Legislature: Rep. Lynda Wilson running for Senate, Rep. Graham Hunt resigns

There are a lot of moving pieces in the state Legislature. With news of long-time Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, retiring, current first-term state Rep. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, announced she will seek the seat. Alongside that development, Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, announced his resignation over questions involving accounts of his military service.
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State Supreme Court rules against Spokane 'Community Bill of Rights'

The state Supreme Court ruled with AWB and Spokane-area business groups last week, unanimmoulsy deciding that Spokane's sweeping 'Community Bill of Rights' ballot measure was outside the initiative process and should not go before voters. Read more »

Columbia Generating Station sets new monthly power record

The new year started off strong for Energy Northwest's Columbia Generating Station. The third largest producer of electrity in Washington state set an electricity production record in January -- eclipsing a record it had set the previous month. Read more »

New business alliance aims to break away from 'costly, wasteful and inefficient' health care

Weyerhaeuser, BNSF and more than a dozen other employers are forming a new nonprofit alliance to improve the way corporations provide health care benefits. The goal of the Health Transformation Alliance is to change the current unsustainable, costly system into one that creates better health care outcomes for employees.
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Founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories discusses value of employee stock ownership plans

Dr. Edmund Schweitzer, president and founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL), participated in a recent panel discussion at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on retirement security. He talked about how employee ownership has benefitted SEL and its employee owners, saying, "Our ESOP means our employees are owning their future instead of renting a job." Read more »

Passages: Former state Rep. Harriet Spanel passes

At age 77, former 40th District state Sen. Harriet Spanel passed away last week. She served more than two decades in the Legislature and is a member of the YWCA Northwest Women’s Hall of Fame. She will be remembered for her work on land and water issues. Read more »

Inslee announces federal funds to retrain Wenatchee and Ferndale Alcoa employees

The U.S. Department of Labor has approved federal assistance to retrain as many as 890 workers being displaced by the curtailment of two Alcoa facilities in Wenatchee and Ferndale. The assistance will come in the form of job retraining, job search and relocation benefits.
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Obama signs disaster declaration for state's December storms

Ten counties qualify for public assistance for the December wind and rainstorms after a decision by the Obama administration to approve Gov. Jay Inslee's disaster request.
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Agriculture safety conference set for Feb. 24 in Wenatchee

The state Department of Labor and Industries and the Governor's Industrial Safety and Health Board will host a full-day agriculture safety conference at the Wenachee Convention Center on Feb. 24. Registration is now open. Read more »

AWB Events & Resources

Feb. 16 seminar, Employment 'at Will' in Washington -- Dead or Alive?

On Feb. 16, join Karen Galipeau Forner, founder and managing member of K-Solutions Law in Bellevue, for a two-hour seminar at AWB on helping employers understand "at-will" employment, including best workplace practices to minimize discrimination claims.
Read more »

Register now for 2016 AWB Spring Meeting, including gubernatorial debate and keynote speakers from CNN

Two popular CNN news commentators will give the keynote address at the AWB Spring Meeting in Spokane. Husband-and-wife team John Avlon, a staunch political independent, and Margaret Hoover, a proud Republican, will take a wide-ranging look at the 2016 election. Another highlight of the event will be AWB's traditional gubernatorial debate. Register today for what is sure to be a sold-out event! Read more »

Employment law webinars offer full HR handbook, continuing ed credits

AWB and top Northwest employment law firms are partnering to offer a unique opportunity to learn the latest in human resources law. The six-part Employment Law Webinar Series will offer timely information, a binder and thumb drive with materials, and HR continuing education credits. The webinars can be purchased as a series until Feb. 29 for a discount, or on an individual basis.
Read more »

Laminated workplace posters available for purchase or download

As a service and convenience to members, AWB again has updated copies of the federal and state workplace posters that must be posted in Washington workplaces. The posters have been fully updated for 2016. Read more »

AWB Institute

Applications being accepted for Leadership Washington Class of 2017

The AWB Institute is now recruiting for the third class of Leadership Washington that will hold its first meeting at the AWB Policy Summit Sept. 13-15, 2016. Download an application or learn more at the all-new AWB Institute website. Read more »

Tweet of the Week

Bringing Prosperity to All of Washington

They Said It

Looking Beyond Puget Sound

"Thirty-seven of thirty-nine counties in Washington have unemployment rates above the national average. Instead of a narrow focus on how Seattle's economy is doing, we need to look at how we expand that economy throughout the state." ~ House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, speaking at last week's Lobby Lunch. Register now to hear Democratic leaders speak this week.

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The Value of Trade

Trans-Pacific Partnership a boon to Washington

By The Spokesman-Review Editorial Board

On Wednesday afternoon (Spokane time), the United States joined 11 other nations in a formal signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact in New Zealand.

As the nation's most trade-dependent state, this is good news for Washington.

Click here to read the full editorial in The Spokesman-Review
Industrial Areas Under Threat

Methanol and Tacoma Tideflats' future

By Bill Virgin

The future of urban-area industrial zones is a big one across the country.

Like Tacoma, Seattle grew up as an industrial city and, its present image notwithstanding, there are still sizable pockets of industrial activity, such as Sodo, Harbor Island and along the Ship Canal.

But for how much longer? Competing uses -- housing, retailing, offices, even proposed arenas -- can pay more for land on the periphery of those zones at a time when industrial companies operating in global marketplaces are looking to slice every dollar they can. And once those competing uses show up on the doorstep, the workers, customers and residents often object to finding industrial activities occurring in what used to be an industrial zone. Meanwhile, industrial workers are being squeezed out by high housing prices, and operating costs increase because of congestion...

[Washington Business magazine covered the issue of "de-industrialization" in our Spring 2015 edition. Read that story here.]

Click here to read Bill Virgin's full column in The News-Tribune
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