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Association of Washington Business – Updated Weekly

 TOP NEWS

 

 

Hear a bipartisan message at Policy Summit from Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Haley Barbour

Part of AWB’s work to convene different sides for solutions means bringing together national leaders with insights on bipartisanship. We’ll continue that tradition at the 2022 Policy Summit next month in Spokane with two distinguished American leaders: former Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

McCaskill, a former county prosecutor, served the state of Missouri as a U.S. senator from 2007 to 2018. Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, was governor of Mississippi from 2004-2012.

They round out the agenda along with other state and national policy leaders at the 2022 Policy Summit. Rooms start at just $139 (plus tax and fees). Don’t delay – the significantly discounted room rate under AWB’s room block closes Aug. 12.

AWB's annual Policy Summit is scheduled from Sept. 13-15 at the Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane.

We'll also cover the top issues facing employers today: Inflation, supply chain disruptions, workforce challenges, regulations and the overall tax burden. Networking and work sessions are also included in the schedule.

The Policy Summit will take place in-person in Spokane with main-stage content available for streaming. Breakout sessions are only available to those attending in-person.

Register today.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Carly Michael at CarlyM@awb.org or 360.943.1600.

 

 

Employers create more jobs than expected, ease fears of recession

Washington employers and their peers across the country added an “astonishing” 528,000 jobs last month, The Associated Press reports.

The news eased some recession fears, and also marks a major milestone for the country: The economy has now recovered all 22 million jobs lost in March and April 2020 when Covid-19 slammed the U.S.

Also, unemployment dropped from 3.6% to 3.5%, which matches the 50-year low just before the pandemic hit.

“The U.S. economy is creating new jobs at an annual rate of 6 million — that’s three times faster than what we normally see historically in a good year,” wrote Brian Coulton, chief economist at Fitch Ratings.

Economists had expected only 250,000 new jobs last month.

“Underestimate the U.S. labor market at your own peril,” said Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Yes, output growth might be slowing and the economic outlook has some clouds on the horizon. But employers are still champing at the bit to hire more workers. That demand may fade, but it’s still red-hot right now.”

 

 

U.S. Senate passes major energy, healthcare spending bill

On Sunday the U.S. Senate passed a major bill that aims to fight inflation and impacts climate, healthcare, prescription drug and tax policies, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Inflation Reduction Act passed the Senate 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The bill would spend $433 billion and raise $739 billion in revenue, according to this summary from Senate Democrats, who assembled the bill in recent weeks.

New spending includes $369 billion on energy and climate change measures, and $64 billion to extend healthcare subsidies through the Affordable Care Act. The bill also allocates $300 billion to deficit reduction, supporters say.

The energy spending includes tax credits for making homes more energy efficient, and buying electric and hydrogen vehicles, for example. The bill would also invest in clean energy technology and aims to speed up the permitting process to develop clean energy.

The legislation also extends Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years. About 13 million people would have seen higher health-insurance premiums next year, without an extension.

The measure also calls for the government to negotiate the cost of some prescription drugs, saving the federal government as much as $288 billion. It also expands funding for the Internal Revenue Service to find unreported taxes, which could total as much as $204 billion, the Congressional Budget Office reports.

And the bill establishes a 15% corporate minimum tax, aimed at large companies that report significant profits but pay little or nothing in income taxes.

Moderate Democrats continued to negotiate for various additions late last week. The measure is expected to pass the House of Representatives and President Joe Biden has signaled his support.

 

 

Primary election offers surprises

A “red wave” predicted for this year didn’t seem to materialize in last week’s primary election, which narrows down the field to the two finalists who will appear on the November general election ballot.

If current voting trends continue, no Republican will appear on the ballot for the position of Secretary of State. Incumbent Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, a Democrat, received 40.6% of the vote. The race for second place is tight, but nonpartisan Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson has maintained a lead over several Republican candidates. She currently has 12.9% of the vote, just ahead of state Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, who has 11.95%. AWB will be holding a secretary of state debate with the top two vote-getters on Aug. 17.

In the 3rd Congressional District (see vote counts), incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler took an early lead for second place but the race is tightening as more votes are counted. Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez took first place and is assured the other slot on the general election ballot.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican in the 4th Congressional District, easily survived a split field of primary challengers and will face Democrat Doug White in November.

In the swing 8th Congressional District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier will face businessman Matt Larkin, who defeated King County Councilman Reagan Dunn.

AWB has a full Election Resources page with early endorsements and our 2022 Vote Record. We continue to interview candidates and will have a second round of endorsements before the general election. Contact AWB’s Mike Ennis to learn more.

 

 

Join AWB in Bellevue Aug. 18 at outreach tour meeting

With the end of summer on the horizon, AWB is wrapping up the 2022 Outreach Tour in Bellevue Aug. 18 at noon in Lincoln Square.

This is a chance to meet directly with AWB’s Government Affairs team for an update on the latest legislative news. It’s also a great time for AWB members to share their concerns and ideas about how to improve Washington’s business climate.

A virtual meeting will be scheduled later for all AWB members across the state who weren’t able to attend their local meeting.

The tour is an important part of our ongoing work to hear directly from employers about the challenges and opportunities facing the business community.

The Statewide Outreach Tour collects employer input to help AWB better advocate for Washington employers with lawmakers in both Olympia and Washington, D.C.

These events are free and registration is required. Contact Britney Martin with questions at 360.943.1600.

 

 FEDERAL ISSUES

 

One-year delay sought on salmon run litigation

The U.S. Department of Justice and plaintiffs in the longstanding litigation concerning endangered salmon runs in the Columbia and Snake River systems have asked the federal court in Oregon to extend the stay in the legal proceeding for another year, until Aug. 31, 2023.

The reason for the request is that more time will allow the parties to continue working towards a settlement. Earthjustice issued a statement that they agreed to the stay because of the Biden Administration’s commitment to develop and implement a “durable” long-term plan to restore salmon runs along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

Contact AWB’s Amy Anderson to learn more.

 

 OTHER NEWS

 

OSPI chief unveils plan to give high school students credit for work experience

Last week State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced a plan to allow students ages 16 and older to earn elective credits toward their high school diploma through paid work experience verified by their school.

In addition to the 17 credits in core academic subjects that high school students must earn to graduate, under Reykdal’s plan, students could earn credits at a rate of 0.5 elective credits for 180 hours worked. Students will be allowed to earn up to 4 elective credits through work experience, and no more than 2 of those credits may be earned in a year.

AWB Vice President of Government Affairs Dave Mastin endorsed the idea: “Helping equip the next generation to succeed in the workforce is critically important for the health of our families, our communities and our economy,” Mastin said.

 

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health launches state’s first hybrid ER and urgent care center

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health has announced a new 24-hour hybrid emergency room and urgent care center in Bremerton. A patient with an emergent or urgent need can simply show up at the hybrid facility and a board-certified physician will evaluate, triage and send them to the appropriate level of care.

It will be the first such hybrid care center in the state, but not the last. Virginia Mason plans to open multiple hybrid facilities in the Puget Sound region over the next four years.

 

Seattle offering $1.9 million to support small businesses and fill empty storefronts

The Seattle Office of Economic Development is offering a $1.9 million “Tenant Improvement Fund” aimed at helping small businesses affected by Covid-19. The grants will pay for commercial improvements and opportunities to expand into empty storefronts where the pandemic forced the previous businesses to shut down.

Through an application process, 20 to 30 small businesses may receive up to $100,000 for improvements to their businesses and promote moving to new spaces within Seattle. The funds are part of the federal American Rescue Plan.

 

Alaska Airlines inks deal to buy 185 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel

Last week Alaska Airlines announced a deal to buy 185 million gallons of biofuel from Colorado renewable fuel producer Gevo Inc. The sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is made from sources like municipal, agricultural or timber waste and are nearly interchangeable with current jet fuels.

Alaska Airlines has been using SAF since 2011 and in 2021 used 262,000 gallons of the fuel. Gevo Inc. will begin delivering the SAF fuel for five years starting in 2026, The Puget Sound Business Journal reports.

The aviation biofuels industry is still developing. The supply is limited for now, and supporters say more work is needed to make these fuels a more viable and affordable option at a large scale.

Read more from the U.S. Department of Energy.

 

Blue Origin completes sixth human space flight, 22nd overall

The New Shepherd program notched its 22nd space flight last week after Blue Origin’s rocket lifted off from the company’s launch site in Texas. It was the 6th manned flight lifting humans past the Karman Line (62 miles above the earth’s surface), marking 31 humans that the New Shepherd program has lifted briefly into space.

Among the flight’s six crew members was explorer Vanessa O’Brien, who became the first woman to reach extremes on land (Mt. Everest), sea (Challenger Deep), and air (pass the Karman line), completing the Explorers’ Extreme Trifecta, a Guinness World Record.

 

 AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES

 

 

Growing Women-Owned Manufacturing in Washington

Last year, Washington lawmakers passed a bill seeking not only to double the number of manufacturers in our state, but also to double the number of women-owned and minority-owned manufacturing businesses.

Join AWB’s Tommy Gantz on Aug. 16 for a webinar exploring what it will take to achieve the goals contained in House Bill 1170, specifically the goal of doubling the number of Women-Owned Manufacturing firms.

Sign up now to attend.

 

 

AWB to host secretary of state debate Aug. 17

AWB’s tradition of hosting debates will continue this summer with a debate between the candidates for Washington secretary of state following the August primary election.

The AWB secretary of state debate will take place at 11 a.m. Aug. 17 at AWB’s office in Olympia and will be streamed live at www.awb.org. The debate will be moderated by veteran political reporter Melissa Santos of Axios Local (Seattle).

“It’s an honor and privilege to host debates between the candidates for statewide office as we have done for three decades now,” said AWB President Kris Johnson. “As the state’s chief elections officer and chief corporations officer, the secretary of state plays a vital role in the health of democracy and our economy. We look forward to bringing together the candidates for an exchange of ideas about how best to lead this important office.”

 

 

Energy Solutions Summit to be held Nov. 2-3 in Kennewick

AWB will host an Energy Solutions Summit this November to discuss what Washington’s energy future means for employers and the economy. Another 1 million people are projected to move into the Evergreen State in the next decade, highlighting the need to strengthen and improve the energy grid and prepare for increased demand.

Low-cost energy has been one of Washington’s primary competitive advantages for decades. Unfortunately, with our region’s dams under attack and with new efforts to restrict or eliminate the use of natural gas, the region’s energy future is unclear. Despite those challenges, there are also opportunities on the horizon, such as hydrogen and modular nuclear energy.

With diverse perspectives coming together in the Tri-Cities, we’ll discuss energy solutions to ensure reliable baseload generation as we work to sustain the current grid and innovate to support growing demand while moving away from traditional fossil fuels.

To inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact us at events@awb.org.

Tickets are now available for this event Nov. 2 and 3 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. Register today!

 

 

Members reduce workers’ comp costs with AWB’s CompWise program

AWB members have access to many services, including our CompWise retrospective rating program. This program helps employers save money on workers’ compensation premiums and other costs while enhancing workplace safety.

Hear how AWB member Dancing Goats Coffee has benefited from being part of the program for nearly two decades in this new video.

Participating in CompWise gives you an opportunity to earn refunds on your workers’ compensation premiums. Additionally, it can help you lower upfront payments to the Department of Labor & Industries while reducing employee time-loss with a safer workplace.

Over the years, CompWise has refunded more than $150 million to employers. Individual companies with good performance have received refunds that have exceeded 50%.

CompWise participants receive personalized support from experts who can help reduce exposure to costly L&I claims. By enhancing safety programs and utilizing smart return-to-work strategies, employers will have a safer work environment and a healthier bottom line.

Curious how much you can save? Contact Mariam@compwise.org or visit www.compwise.org.

 

 

AWB members stay connected to health care providers with Premera MyCare app

Members enrolled in the AWB HealthChoice plan can get the care they need, when they need it, with Premera’s MyCare app. Staying digitally connected with your virtual care providers provides quick access to the services you need – from primary care to physical therapy. Virtual care services include:

  • Primary care
  • Health management
  • Mental health & substance use
  • Prescriptions

The Premera MyCare app is available to download in the Apple App Store and Google Play. Contact your insurance producer or Mark Beagley with questions.

 

 PRESIDENT'S COLUMN

 

Comment: Employers should study up now for general election

By Kris Johnson / For The Herald

Summertime during an election year is a busy time, and not just for the candidates who are ringing doorbells, walking in parades and working the phones to rally support. It’s also a busy time for the Association of Washington Business.

For the last two months, our Government Affairs team has coordinated and hosted dozens of candidate interviews for state legislative races throughout Washington. It’s a lot of work, but it’s one of the most important activities we do every two years on behalf of employers.

That’s because even though news coverage tends to focus on national politics and the possibility of a “red wave” in Congress, what happens in Olympia is sometimes just as important — or even more important — for the people who own or manage a business here in Washington.

Read the full column here

 

 TWEET OF THE WEEK

 

 

 THEY SAID IT

 

“Giving students the opportunity to earn elective credits for their after-school and summer jobs validates the important role that work plays in their growth and development, and will hopefully encourage more young people to get a start on acquiring the important life skills that are gained through work experience.” ~ Dave Mastin, AWB vice president of government affairs, about a proposal from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to allow students ages 16 and older to earn elective credits toward their high school diploma through paid work experience that is verified by their school.
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