Virtual Policy Summit delivers inspiration, practical solutions for Washington
Employers, policymakers and elected officials came together to reimagine Washington amid historic challenges during AWB’s virtual Policy Summit last week, from balancing the state budget to creating bipartisan solutions to jump-start America’s economy.
Speakers discussed containing the coronavirus pandemic, investing in broadband and other critical infrastructure, and repatriating supply chains as a matter of national security.
AWB’s signature event was hosted virtually for the first time, and the quality of the content was stronger than ever with more than 60 speakers, including inspirational keynote addresses from former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.
On Wednesday, Ryan and Heitkamp emphasized that bipartisan solutions are the best ones for America. And there’s a lot of work to do, from stabilizing the economy and fighting COVID-19 to addressing the challenges of China’s expanding economic and military power.
Tuesday’s program featured CEO and founder Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code, which aims to close the gender gap in technology. She encouraged listeners, especially women and girls, to fight perfectionism and take risks to move ahead in their lives.
And Monday’s program featured extensive discussions on the state budget with legislative leaders, a big picture economic update from economist Spencer Cohen, and insights into the 2020 election with political analyst Amy Walter.
This year’s policy summit also included five debates for candidates for statewide offices. Stay tuned to TVW and AWB News for more details.
AWB announces new endorsements for statewide and legislative races
Five candidates for statewide office and two dozen more legislative candidates earned endorsements last week from AWB.
Following a series of debates during last week’s annual Policy Summit, the board of directors voted Friday to endorse these candidates for statewide office: Lieutenant Governor: Denny Heck
Secretary of State: Kim Wyman
Treasurer: Duane Davidson
Commissioner of Public Lands: Hilary Franz
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Chris Reykdal
“Our state faces enormous challenges as a result of the pandemic, and we need leaders who will help us rebuild and remake our economy and our communities,” AWB President Kris Johnson said. “After hearing from the candidates directly, our members voted to endorse the leaders they believe understand best the challenges facing Washington’s employer community and are best equipped to help us meet the historic challenges we are facing.”
In addition to the five endorsements for statewide offices, the AWB board voted to endorse candidates in 24 state legislative races. These candidate endorsements are the result of a months-long process based on member input and virtual candidate interviews. They follow a first round of automatic endorsements in legislative races where an incumbent received a voting record of 80% or higher with the association. Automatic endorsements were announced previously and can be viewed here.
READ THE ENDORSEMENTS
L&I proposes keeping workers’ comp rates steady in 2021
The Department of Labor & Industries has issued its proposed 2021 workers’ compensation rates, with a proposed overall rate change of 0%. As always, however, there will be changes by job class and employer.
“While financial projections point to the need for a significant increase to cover all of the costs for injuries and illnesses that occur in 2021,” L&I announced, “the agency is proposing using funds from the workers’ compensations contingency reserve to keep the rate from climbing.”
L&I will hold public hearings virtually this year on Oct. 27 and 29. Submit comments by Sept. 30.
Contact Government Affairs Director Bob Battles to learn more and get involved.
Catalyst Building opens in Spokane, anchoring eco-district and ‘the five smartest blocks in the world’
The first net-zero commercial building in the state made from cross-laminated timber opened last week in Spokane. Avista Development and McKinstry developed the $60 million project to build the five-story Catalyst Building, which anchors the city’s South Landing eco-district.
The building has achieved net-zero energy consumption through solar power, gray water recovery and “Internet of Things” sensors to optimize operations. It is built with 4,000 cubic meters of cross-laminated timber, produced by Kattera Inc. and made from small-diameter trees glued together to produce strong but lightweight building material.
The Catalyst building and the nearby Scott Morris Center for Energy Innovation are linked and will connect with others in the area to manage electrical demand, generation and storage during peak loads.
Several programs from Eastern Washington University are moving into the Catalyst Building, including the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“With the foundation for the five smartest blocks in the world now in place, Catalyst and the South Landing eco-district prove what is possible when industry leaders work together to think big and test bold ideas,” Scott Morris, chairman and former CEO of Avista, said. “What we have created is so transformative and innovative, it will serve as a new model for collaboration across industries. Together, we are re-imagining the future of energy and sustainable development.”
Read more in The Spokesman-Review and Power Magazine.
Pandemic means major cost increases for child care providers
The coronavirus pandemic continues to challenge Washington’s remaining child care providers with significantly higher costs: “Despite some additional funding appropriated by Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, providers are facing increased costs and decreased revenue,” the Center for American Progress reports.
The cost of home-based family child care is now 70% higher than it was before the pandemic, AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson says. The cost of center-based child care that meets enhanced health and safety requirements is 47% higher, on average.
The impact of child care has been previously highlighted by AWB as a major challenge for not just Washington families but employers and the overall economy. And factories are feeling the effects, The Wall Street Journal reports, as workers stay home to care for their children who would otherwise be in day care, or at school.
Read more in this detailed report sponsored by AWB, the state Department of Commerce and other partners.
Anderson, AWB’s longtime advocate for child care solutions, will be part of a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco webinar on Oct. 1: “Investing in the Future of Child Care: Supporting Small Business Providers.” Register to join this important conversation.
Housing Forum webinar tomorrow!
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Passages: Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, died on Friday after 27 years as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. The second woman ever to serve on the high court, she was a feminist icon and stalwart of the court’s liberal wing. Fox Business News runs down her record on key business rulings, and Quartz looks at her ranking in most and least business-friendly Supreme Court jurists.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to hold a vote on a replacement before the election, a move Democrats are opposing.
Rep. McMorris Rodgers aims for Energy & Commerce Committee leadership post
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-WA, is competing for the position of ranking Republican – or potentially chair, if her party retakes the U.S. House – on the influential House Energy & Commerce Committee. E&E Daily reports that McMorris Rodgers is preparing to face off against fellow Republican Reps. Michael Burgess of Texas and potentially Bob Latta of Ohio for the leadership seat.
Currently the chair of the panel’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, McMorris Rodgers said she would work to reduce regulatory barriers to artificial intelligence, 5G broadband, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things.
Federal relief deal remains elusive, Rep. Herrera Beutler pushes for action
Congress is a long way from reaching agreement on a federal relief deal, Politico reports. Democrats last offered a $2.2 trillion deal, while Republicans pushed for $650 billion. Meanwhile, the pressures of six months of a pandemic continue to ripple throughout every corner of the economy.
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, says she intends to force a vote on extending the Paycheck Protection Program through a legislative maneuver called a discharge petition.
Rep. Newhouse introduces ‘A Voice for the West’ newsletter
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-WA, who is a leader in the Congressional Western Caucus, has introduced a newsletter highlighting issues of importance to rural Americans and the West.
The first edition of “A Voice for the West” takes a broad look at issues ranging from public lands and regulation to water infrastructure and conservation and energy independence. He also highlights nuclear power and the recent visit of U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to the Hanford reservation.
U.S. Senate Republicans unveil privacy legislation
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing this week on a long-awaited privacy bill unveiled by Senate Republicans. The bill includes injunctive relief and requires algorithmic transparency from businesses, Bloomberg reports.
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, the ranking minority member of the Commerce Committee, has introduced her own privacy bill, S 2968.
Athira Pharma raises $204 million in IPO, ‘big milestone’ in fight against Alzheimer’s
Seattle-based Athira Pharma debuted on the Nasdaq under the ticker ATHA last week, raising $204 million at a price of $17 per share, which was at the high end of its range. Founded in 2011, Athira is in late-stage development for a drug that could halt or reverse Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.
The company’s founder, Leen Kawas, is the first woman to lead a Washington company to a public offering since 1998, GeekWire reports. AWB named Kawas our inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016. AWB also featured the company, known then as M3 Biotechnology, in our Grow Here campaign.
Gov. Inslee and challenger Culp agree to a televised debate
The first televised gubernatorial debate between Gov. Jay Inslee and his Republican challenger, Loren Culp, will be on Oct. 7. The debate will be broadcast live from 8-9 p.m., immediately after that evening’s vice-presidential debate. The pair will debate from separate rooms at TVW in Olympia.
Stay tuned for other possible debate announcements.
Facebook to buy REI’s never-used office complex in Bellevue
In-person offices are still hot. Facebook will buy REI’s brand new 36-acre office complex in Bellevue for nearly $368 million, the company announced last week.
It continues a major expansion for the social media company, which opened its first Puget Sound office in 2010 with three employees. It now employs more than 5,000 in dozens of locations in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond. The Seattle area is now Facebook’s second-largest engineering hub, after its headquarters in Menlo Park.
Dick’s Drive-In plans first-ever food truck
Seattle’s favorite burger joint is hitting the road. Dick’s Drive-In will launch a food truck this fall and is having an online poll on where it should go first. The goal is to eventually reach the entire region for those who can’t get to their seven existing restaurants in Seattle, Edmonds and Kent.
“When we built our restaurants in Edmonds and Kent, our customers helped us decide where those restaurants should be,” said Jasmine Donovan, president of Dick’s Drive-In. “And while it takes over a year to build each new restaurant, with the food truck, we can reach customers all over the Puget Sound region beginning this fall.”
Boeing gives $700,000 to help families hit by wildfires
The Boeing Charitable Trust will give $700,000 to help West Coast communities hit hard by wildfires. Boeing is giving $500,000 to the American Red Cross for its relief efforts and $200,000 for food assistance, including $100,000 to Northwest Harvest in Washington. Consistent with Boeing employee gift match programs, the company will also match qualifying employee contributions made to eligible nonprofits for wildfire relief efforts.
“Thousands of our families, friends and neighbors have been displaced around the west,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and the company’s senior executive in the region. “We are committed to helping them through this exceptionally challenging time.”
Passages: Bill Gates II, co-founder of K&L Gates and influential philanthropist
Tributes rolled in last week on news of the death of longtime Seattle civic leader Bill Gates II. His son, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, said his parents’ unconditional love and support were a big reason he felt the confidence to drop out of college to start Microsoft. “I knew they would be in my corner even if I failed,” Gates wrote.
The elder Gates began practicing law in 1951, and in 1964 founded the law firm that eventually became Preston Gates & Ellis, which then became K&L Gates. He left the firm in 1998 and in 2000 became co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Read more about his life in The Seattle Times or Gates Notes.
AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES
THIS WEEK: Are housing policies accomplishing their intended goals?
AWB is once again joining forces with a group of diverse business and statewide advocacy groups to continue the conversation on the issue of workforce housing. The monthly webinar series returns this Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 11 a.m. with a discussion that looks at how our state’s housing policies are living up to their intended objectives. Each webinar is $15 to register, and $10 for elected officials.
Speakers include: U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., Dist. 10
Duana Kolouskova, partner, Johns Monroe Mitsunaga Kolouskova, PLLC
Erik Johansen, land services director, Stevens County
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Manufacturing Week Live will air the first week of October
As you might have guessed, AWB’s annual Manufacturing Week tour will look a little different this year. AWB still aims to bring attention to Washington’s manufacturing economy and will be bringing you a weeklong series of virtually-broadcast programs full of interviews and featuring different locations every day highlighting the important role manufacturers continue to play.
Stay tuned for the full show details, but for now, mark your calendars for Manufacturing Week Live, Oct. 2 through 9.
Rural Vitality Summit is Nov. 11-12In 2017 and 2018, AWB hosted summits on rural jobs and heard from employers, state legislators, agency officials and local governments on improving the economic prosperity in the rural areas of our state. This November we will be revisiting this topic and how we can support the vitality of our rural communities. Mark your calendars now to join us on Nov. 11 and 12, and stay tuned for more details coming soon.
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 resources page has a variety of useful, constantly updated links.
Since its launch May 26, the website has enabled thousands of employers to search for PPE providers and connect with local sources of key equipment.
Check out this short video for more information.
To learn more, contact AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz, or check out AWB President Kris Johnson’s column in South Sound Business.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
THEY SAID IT
“People used to ask my dad if he was the real Bill Gates. The truth is, he was everything I try to be.” ~ Bill Gates III, co-founder of Microsoft, about his father, Bill Gates II, a longtime Seattle attorney and global humanitarian, who died last week at age 94.