November 21, 2016
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Top Stories

Election update: Walsh leading in 19th; legislative leadership changes announced after election

Republican Jim Walsh is now leading in the 19th District, which means an even closer balance of power in the state House. The Senate, meanwhile, could see an empowered "Roadkill Caucus" helping lead from the center. With the 2017 legislative session just six weeks away, both parties are beginning to announce leadership roles.

Read more »

New budget forecast predicts $354 million more in tax revenue than expected

The state is taking in more money than expected, bumping up expected tax collections in this biennium and the next. Since the March forecast, anticipated revenues have increased by more than $1.2 billion. While that's good news, there are plenty of calls to increase spending by even more as the Legislature prepares for the budget-writing process in the 2017 session. In a split decision, the panel decided to project $5 billion in additional state education spending by 2021, even though the Legislature hasn't made that decision. Read more »

Education Funding Task Force zeroes in on cost of final McCleary compliance -- but agreement may be difficult

A six-month wait ended last week as consultants unveiled a thick report that slices and dices its way through how hundreds of local school districts supplement teacher pay with local levy dollars. The report is unclear on the cost to address this levy issue. Now, lawmakers in a joint legislative task force will sift through that data to decide how much more money the Legislature will need to provide to local districts. Estimates range from $2 billion to $3.5 billion.

Read more »

EPA approves parts of Washington's water quality rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized water quality standards for Washington, adopting a stricter version of what the state Department of Ecology had proposed. The impact for employers could be significant, since current technology isn't able to clean water to the level required by the standards.

Read more »

Celebrate outstanding employers at inaugural Evening of Excellence Nov. 30 at Benaroya Hall

Seats are still available at AWB's inaugural Evening of Excellence. Twenty award finalists will be among the many guests who will walk the red carpet at the formal event Nov. 30 at Benaroya Hall when the winners will be announced. The awards, presented by Banner Bank, recognize employers who harness innovation, take the lead on environmental stewardship, and build a better Washington for their employees and communities. Reserve your spot today for a memorable evening in Seattle!

Read more »

Tree-lighting family announced for Holiday Kids' Tree program on Dec. 2

Olympia's favorite holiday tradition returns Friday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. The AWB Holiday Kids' Tree Project has raised more than $370,000 since 1989 to buy Christmas gifts for families in need across the state. Plans are coming together for this year's event, including the announcement of the military family that will light the tree. Join the lighting of the state's tree and consider donating to this festive and heartwarming project.

Read more »

Key Hearings/Meetings

Water Quality Committee to meet Nov. 29

The AWB Water Quality Committee will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 9 a.m. at AWB. The group will discuss next steps after the EPA's promulgation of Washington's water quality standards, among other issues. Contact Connie Carlson for call-in information, or Brandon Houskeeper for more information about the content of the meeting.

AWB Employment Law Committee to meet Dec. 1

The AWB Employment Law Committee will discuss a number of workplace issues when it meets Dec. 1 at 1:30 p.m. at AWB. L&I staff have been invited to present information. One item sure to be on the agenda: how L&I will implement Initiative 1433, including rulemaking for the new safe and sick leave rule, as well as logistics for increasing the state's minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020. Contact Connie Carlson for call-in information, or Bob Battles for more information on the content of the meeting.

Federal Issues

Washington members of Congress named to powerful leadership roles

When the new Congress begins its work, Sen. Patty Murray will be ranked the third-highest Democrat in the Senate. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5th Congressional District, will remain the fourth-highest ranked Republican in the House.

Read more »

What will be the impact of a Trump administration on health insurance?

What will American health care and health insurance look like under the Trump administration? There are more questions than answers about what President-Elect Trump and the Republican Congress will do to, as they have promised, repeal and reform the Affordable Care Act.

Read more »

Other News

Washington's jobless rate drops but still lags the rest of the country

After being flat all year, the state's unemployment rate has dropped and is now at its lowest point in more than eight years.

Read more »

Marty Brown announces retirement as head of State Board for Community & Technical Colleges

Longtime Olympia policy expert Marty Brown announced last week that he will retire as executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in June 2017. Brown has led the agency since 2012.

Read more »

AWB will be closed for Thanksgiving

AWB's Olympia office will be closed this Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. We wish everyone an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

AWB Events & Resources

Registration now open for 2017 Employment Law webinar series

Employment law is a crucial part of navigating today's business world. Learn the basics along with the latest legal changes during AWB's 2017 Employment Law webinar series. Ensure access to all six, and save money through our early bird pricing, by signing up before Jan. 6. Read more »

Spots filling up for AWB's fly-in to Washington, D.C., Dec. 5-7

Meet with national leaders during AWB's annual D.C. fly-in Dec. 5-7. AWB's Government Affairs team will lead the trip to the nation's capitol, including congressional visits, meetings with federal agencies and the new administration. It will also include a Washington state grand reception, a candlelight tour of the Capitol and more.
Read more »

Skylar Olsen, senior economist at Zillow, will keynote the 2017 Legislative Day and Hill Climb

Skylar Olsen, a senior economist at Zillow, will give the keynote address at AWB's annual Legislative Day and Hill Climb. This year's event will be held Tuesday, Jan. 17. Save the date on your calendar and contact Kelli Schueler to learn more. Read more »

Finally, a 401(k) retirement plan built for small businesses!

An all-new website highlights MyFuture 401(k), a program that allows small-business owners to offer robust, full-featured retired plans for their employees without the costs and hassle of running a full retirement program on their own. Read more »

Tweet of the Week

Memorial for a Leader



They Said It

McCleary Education Funding

"People are like, 'Oh, just fully fund basic education. Just do it.' There is no 'it.' We have to come up with the framework, and then we have to find out how much that costs." ~ Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, a member of the legislative Education Funding Task Force. A consultant's report says that statewide, local school districts spend an average of $14,651 to bolster state payment for each teacher. It's up to legislators to decide how much of that is the state's responsibility and how much is supplemental pay that falls outside the definition of basic education.




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Focus on Sustainability

Feed Commodities LLC: Giving Unused Bakery Goods a New Life

This Tacoma company helps divert past-its-prime food from the landfill to ranchers, feeding cattle across the Northwest.

From Salem, Ore., to the Canadian border, Feed Commodities, LLC is the Pacific Northwest's premier recycler of bakery byproducts into livestock feeds. The company acquires otherwise unusable raw bakery goods around the Pacific Northwest to process at its Tacoma facility. Each month, the plant repurposes thousands of tons of bakery products that would otherwise end up in landfills, turning it into high-quality livestock feed sold in bulk to ranchers.

The company has also taken the lead in food waste reduction through the development of Normandy Waste Management Systems, a web-based software service designed to help the food production community learn how to track and reduce waste in their daily operations.

Read the full story in Washington Business Magazine
Time to Build Millennium Bulk Terminals

Still waiting for good jobs in Cowlitz County

By Mike Bridges, president of the Longview/Kelso Building and Construction Trades Council

Millennium's $680 million private investment stands to create more than 1,000 union construction jobs over a two-year build-out under a Project Labor Agreement. That's also 135 permanent jobs when the facility is complete and 2,650 direct and indirect construction jobs overall. And that doesn't count the ongoing maintenance work that would employ different trades for years to come. For Cowlitz County, this represents a significant private investment that would have an enormous economic impact on thousands of tradespeople and their families. All told, Millennium would bring in $43.1 million in state and local taxes during construction, and $5.4 million in state and local taxes each year when fully operational.

It would also mean fewer people on the road, working closer to home.

Right now, most of our tradesmen and women work outside of Cowlitz County. Many work out of state, driving home on weekends or once a month for visits. I get so tired of people criticizing these Millennium jobs as "temporary." Anyone in the trades knows our work is always "temporary." And for someone who drives thousands of miles each month to a job in Montana, visiting their kids once a month back home in Kelso, the promise of a local "temporary" job sounds pretty appealing...

Read the full column in The Stand
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