February 15, 2016
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Top Stories

Legislature passes halfway mark as cutoffs narrow number of possible bills

The Legislature passed the halfway point of this "short" 60-day session last week. The formal cutoff narrowed the number of controversial bills surviving. Attention will now turn to the supplemental budget with the release this week of the latest tax collection figures from the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council. Read more »

On party-line vote, Senate fails to pass 2/3 supermajority constitutional amendment

The Senate on Friday couldn't reach the two-thirds vote needed to move forward with a constitutional amendment that would set up its own two-thirds rule for any tax increases. The vote was along party lines, with 26 Majority Coalition Caucus members voting in favor and all Senate Democratic Caucus members voting against. To pass, the measure needed 33 votes.
Read more »

AWB, employers testify with concerns about Initiative 732's carbon tax proposal

The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee held a hearing Tuesday morning on Initiative 732, the carbon tax proposal to the Legislature. AWB led a panel of employers to testify about the impacts the initiative would have on the state's competitiveness, and will testify again when the measure comes up for a House hearing this Friday. Read more »

U.S. Supreme Court grants stay on Obama's climate policy; UN panel proposes carbon limits for airplanes

The Obama administration's carbon emission regulations are on hold until appeals have been sorted out, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week. The surprise decision to block the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing the federal Clean Power Plan is a victory for 29 states and employer groups that had appealed a lower court ruling. Read more »

House Speaker Chopp and other Democratic leaders speak at Lobby Lunch

Speaker of the House Frank Chopp joined House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, Democratic jobs lead Rep. Larry Springer, and Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Karen Fraser at last week's Lobby Lunch. Steve Lerch of the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council will speak this Thursday. Reserve your space today! Read more »

Health Care Authority announces data breach of 91,000 Medicaid enrollees; two employees fired

A whistleblower audit revealed personal health information of 91,000 Apple Health (Medicaid) clients was mishandled by an employee, the Health Care Authority disclosed last week. The information included Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and private health information. This breach portrays the difficulty of keeping health care data secure for both private companies as well as state agenices. Read more »

Priority Legislation

AWB continues to work for minimum wage solutions that includes sensible support for employers and employees

AWB is working to find a way forward on minimum wage legislation that will include the kinds of protections needed for small businesses -- including a training wage for younger, less skilled workers and protection against a city-by-city patchwork of differing workplace regulations that are a paperwork nightmare for employers. Read more »

SB 6914: Saving public charter schools

Senate Bill 6194, which would ensure state funding for public charter schools, will have a public hearing in the House Education Committee this Friday. AWB continues to support the innovations public charter schools provide for children and families. A report out last week notes rapid achievement gains being made by the 1,100 students in Washington's first-ever public charter schools after only a few months in class.
Read more »

AWB-supported education bills to be considered this week

Bills to fund public education, address substitute teacher shortages by allowing retired teachers to sub without affecting their pensions, and to plan for workforce training will be heard this week. AWB supports these education measures. Read more »

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

Roger Millar appointed acting secretary of transportation

Gov. Jay Inslee last week named Roger Millar to serve as acting secretary of transportation. Millar has been the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) deputy secretary since October, and has 38 years of experience in the transportation field. Read more »

REC Silicon announces temporary shutdown amid global solar trade dispute

One of the largest employers in Moses Lake will shut down temporarily until June due to an ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China. REC Silicon will continue to employ its 400 workers doing maintenance and repairs at the plant, which makes solar-grade silicon for the solar panel industry. Gov. Jay Inslee called for an immediate resolution to the trade dispute that supports domestic polysilicon manufacturing.
Read more »

M3 Biotechnology raises $10 million to pursue Alzheimer's treatment trials

AWB member M3 Biotechnology announced last week that it had raised $10 million in an oversubscribed Series A round as it pursues regenerative treatments for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other brain diseases. M3 Biotechnology CEO Leen Kawas spoke with AWB's Washington Business magazine in our most recent edition. Read more »

Scientists at Hanford help prove Einstein's 1916 theory on gravitational waves from a black hole

For the first time, scientists have detected gravitational waves from a black hole, proving predictions Albert Einstein made in 1916 correct. The waves were detected by scientists at Hanford and Louisiana using the most precise measuring device ever built. Work to provide the theory has taken 40 years and cost $1 billion, but the potential payoff is huge.
Read more »

Congress makes ban on Internet access tax permanent

Last week, Congress passed a permanent ban on Internet access taxes. Such a tax has been under a series of temporary moratoriums since 1998. The bipartisan bill also bans statewide taxes, which currently exist in a handful of states -- but not Washington. Read more »

Passages: Former Senate Majority Leader Augie Mardesich, age 95

Former state House and Senate majority leader August "Augie" Mardesich, D-Everett, died last week at age 95. Mardesich is remembered as one of the most powerful state politicians of the 1970s, whose support of public employee pension reform cost him his seat in a stunning 1978 defeat.
Read more »

AWB Events & Resources

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

Farewell, Justice Antonin Scalia


"The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the courts, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted."
~ Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died over the weekend at age 79 after serving on the nation's highest court for 30 years.




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Tracking Crucial Data

2016 Redbook offers data-driven snapshot of state's economic competitiveness

By AWB President Kris Johnson

In business, you can get left behind just by sitting still.

Look at Blockbuster video or Borders books. And remember the Palm Pilot? Or the Atari game console?

Business schools study these failures as cautionary tales, of course, but there are lessons for state governments, as well.

As Washington lawmakers work through this short, election-year legislative session, they would be wise to keep at least one eye on the competition as they consider issues like climate policy, minimum wage and education funding.

One way they can do that is to read the 2016 Competitiveness Redbook.
Click here to read Kris Johnson's full column
We Should Encourage Manufacturing in Washington

Some state businesses lead way on low carbon

By Stephen Smith, plant manager of Cardinal FG, Winlock

If Washington is going to maintain and grow its reputation as a clean-manufacturing leader, we need to be careful about adopting a new policy, whether through regulation or initiative, designed to increase the cost of energy.

California provides a sober lesson. Since enacting its carbon "cap and trade" system, California's manufacturing job growth rate has averaged 2 percent, one-third of the 6 percent national average. If Washington adopts a version of this system, we will only drive away manufacturing jobs from our low-carbon economy and into high-carbon regions.
Click here to read the full op-ed in The Olympian
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