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AWB joins other business groups and bipartisan legislative call for more flexible restrictions
AWB and nine other employer associations sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee last week asking him to reconsider new restrictions that he had imposed on businesses a few days earlier in response to rising Covid-19 cases. Rather than require complete indoor closures of some businesses, the letter asks the governor to consider a 25% occupancy rate for businesses that were negatively affected by the new restrictions.

The coalition acknowledges the need to slow the spread of the virus from social gatherings, which is the leading cause of outbreaks, and notes the strong partnership between businesses and state officials throughout the pandemic. But the groups voiced concerns that some industries seem to be unfairly targeted.

“While some industries may require additional measures to ensure customers have limited interaction, a 25% occupancy would still allow some level of commerce to continue and employees to maintain the jobs and income,” it states.

The letter was one of several responses to the new round of restrictions which are expected to result in 100,000 lost jobs in the food service industry. Twenty-six chambers of commerce from the AWB Grassroots Alliance sent a similar letter to the governor, and a group of nine Democratic state lawmakers wrote to the governor on Tuesday, urging him to reconsider the restrictions. The lawmakers noted that data suggests restaurants are not the problem.

In addition, Challenge Seattle, an organization led by former Gov. Chris Gregoire representing leading employers in the Puget Sound region, wrote to Inslee and legislative leaders to offer a six-point plan focused on both short-term needs and longer-term opportunities for recovery. The plan calls for more resources for testing and tracing, more state aid for struggling businesses and employees, and getting children back into school in January if Covid rates fall.

On Friday, Inslee announced a total of $135 million in grants, loans, and other assistance to help businesses and workers hurt by the latest round of restrictions. That was more than double what he initially proposed when he announced the new restrictions, but Republican legislators said it was not nearly enough.

Getting Congress to approve additional federal assistance is also crucial. This week, AWB and our Grassroots Alliance chamber partners will send a letter to Washington’s congressional delegation urging more federal support for employers and employees.

Since the start of the pandemic, AWB has advocated for the safe opening of as many industries and businesses as possible through the Rebound and Recovery campaign and other efforts, and for policy decisions that protect the health and safety of individuals and the health of our economy.
 
 

AWB’s fifth annual Evening of Excellence honors Washington’s best
AWB presented its top awards to nine employers Thursday at the annual Evening of Excellence via a live broadcast.

Read a full description of the winners and learn about the other quality finalists here.

Each of the nine award categories listed below align with AWB’s mission and vision: Employer of the Year: CM Heating, Everett
Entrepreneur of the Year: Vaagen Timbers, Colville
Excellence in Washington Family-Owned Business (New this year): Dishman Dodge Ram Chrysler Jeep, Spokane Valley
Washington Veterans and Families Award (New this year): Nine9Line Veterans Services, Lakewood
Washington Resiliency Award (New this year): Alaska Airlines, Seattle
Leading Environmental Practices Award: Cedar Grove, Seattle
Washington Achieve Award: Wagstaff, Inc., Spokane Valley
Washington Connect Award: Skills Inc., Auburn
Washington Advance Award: Child Care Aware of Washington, Tacoma
Nominations are open for AWB’s slate of 2021 awards. Learn more and nominate your business or another quality Washington employer.
 
 

FAA approves 737 MAX for return to flight
The Federal Aviation Administration last week cleared the 737 MAX to return to the skies after 20 months of evaluations, and European regulators are expected to issue similar clearance in January.

The 737 MAX is now “the most heavily scrutinized transport aircraft in aviation history,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

Boeing is now working to upgrade planes by installing software enhancements, completing wire separation modifications and training pilots. In Moses Lake, workers are busy getting stored 737 MAX planes ready for service.

“The FAA’s directive is an important milestone,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide.”

Carriers are eager to fly the MAX, The Seattle Times reports. The MAX’s fuel efficiency and longer range offer a lower cost of travel.

“We’ve got to get this aircraft,” said Eddie Wilson, CEO of the Dublin-based unit of Ryanair. “It’s a fantastic aircraft. It’s probably going to be the aircraft that has got the most scrutiny from safety regulators. And we are really looking forward to having it in our fleet.”
 
 

National and global Covid spike leads to new restrictions
Across the country and the world, new restrictions are being put into place to restrict the spread of the resurgent Covid-19 pandemic.

California instituted a statewide curfew, prohibiting most non-essential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued rules closing in-person dining in restaurants and bars, as well as gyms and event venues, along with organized youth and adult sports. He also directed Minnesotans not to gather with anyone outside of their immediate household.

In Nevada, masks are required any time you are around someone not part of your immediate household, both inside and outside, including during private gatherings.

New Jersey has canceled interstate travel for sports for children and teenagers.

Pennsylvania is requiring a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the state unless they have had a negative test within 72 hours of coming into the state.

In Berlin, police fired water cannons at demonstrators who were protesting Covid restrictions (pictured above). Authorities said the crowd ignored warnings to wear masks and keep their distance from one another.
 
 

Help keep customers and employees safe with AWB’s Covid-19 resources
The United States is seeing a rapidly rising coronavirus case count, with total infections topping 12 million. Newly diagnosed cases are approaching 200,000 new infections a day.

Recently announced restrictions will add to the pain for businesses across Washington, especially small businesses.

To help Washington employers protect their customers, employees and communities – and recover from the burgeoning economic impacts – AWB offers resources through Stay Safe Washington and Rebound and Recovery.

The Stay Safe Washington campaign helps employers get the word out to their employees and communities about how wearing masks can protect public health and keep the economy open at the same time. The message is simple — Your mask today saves our jobs tomorrow. And wearing masks can help prevent further shutdowns.

The Rebound and Recovery website helps employers access the tools and supplies needed to conduct business safely, including masks, gloves, signs, protective barriers and much more. Many of these products are made right here in Washington, which also saves jobs and boosts our local economy.

AWB also has a list of Covid-19 resources.
 
 
Holiday Kids’ Tree Project aids rural families
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 FEDERAL ISSUES
  U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse elected chair of Western Caucus
Central Washington Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse will chair the Congressional Western Caucus after he was unanimously named head of the caucus last week. The Western Caucus has nearly 70 bipartisan members from 35 different states and territories.

Newhouse was first elected to Congress in 2014 to represent the largely rural 4th Congressional District, which includes Yakima and the Tri-Cities. Newhouse, 65, has previously served as a member of the Washington state Legislature and as director of the state Department of Agriculture.
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 OTHER NEWS
  State revenues continue to climb, with more tax revenue each year despite economic downturn
Despite the pandemic recession, Washington state will collect $977 million more this year than in 2019, according to the latest quarterly projections released last week by the state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

The state’s tax revenues in the 2019-2021 biennium are expected to be just under $51 billion; that’s an increase of 10.7% over 2017-19. With this news of year-over-year tax revenue growth, it will be harder to make the case that the state needs to increase taxes or create new ones, especially when so many businesses are struggling to survive.

The Washington Research Council has more.
  Public hearing on state’s energy plan to be held Dec. 7
AWB continues to engage with employers and state officials on the recently released draft Washington State Energy Strategy, which will have a public hearing on Dec. 7. The wide-ranging document sets the stage for a deep push to decarbonize the state’s energy sector. The strategy laid out in the document will impact the abilities of employers, residents and other energy consumers to enjoy affordable and reliable energy choice in the state. The plan puts Washington on a path of more expensive less reliable energy. Read more in this AWB News report.

AWB Government Affairs Director Peter Godlewski is reaching out to AWB members on this issue, and invites contact by anyone interested in this issue.
  Gov. Inslee appoints Dr. Umair Shah as new secretary of health
Dr. Umair A. Shah will serve as the new Washington state secretary of health. He currently serves as head of Harris County Public Health in Texas. He begins his new position in Washington on Dec. 21, replacing John Wiesman, who announced his retirement in February.

Shah has led the health department in the nation’s third-largest county for seven years, dealing with the novel H1N1 virus, Ebola, Zika and Covid-19, as well as hurricanes and other emergencies. Inslee announced his appointment last Tuesday.
  House Republicans re-elect Rep. J.T. Wilcox as leader
The House Republican Caucus voted on the 2021 GOP leadership team last week, re-electing Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, as the House minority leader.

Other members of the leadership team include Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, as deputy leader; Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, as caucus chair; and Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, as floor leader.
  Department of Revenue offers Covid-19 extension on business taxes
Due to Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent closure announcements, the Department of Revenue has again updated some of their policies regarding filing of taxes. Essentially, they are granting extensions again for any businesses that can’t pay due to issues regarding Covid-19.

Anyone looking for an extension needs to contact the Department of Revenue before the due date. The department also requests that they file their tax return even if they are getting an extension of the payment filing.
  Google buys car dealership property for third Kirkland campus
A 10-acre car dealership will become the third Google campus in the eastside city of Kirkland, The Puget Sound Business Journal reports. Google also has two campuses in Seattle: one in Fremont and one in South Lake Union.

Google has more than 5,750 employees in the region working on Android technology, cloud computing and more, GeekWire reports. It has more than 100 job openings in the Seattle area.
  Rachel Smith named head of Seattle Metro Chamber
King County Deputy Executive and Chief of Staff Rachel Smith has been chosen as the next president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Her first day as head of the Seattle chamber will be Jan. 4, 2021. Smith replaces Congresswoman-Elect Marilyn Strickland, who led the chamber until January of this year.

“Rachel is a champion for our region and brings experience that will make the Chamber a stronger advocate for its members and the broader business community,” said Alaska Air’s Diana Birkett Rakow, chair of the Seattle Metro Chamber’s Board of Trustees.
  KEY LEGISLATIVE MEETING:
Rep. Frame and Sen. Wagoner invited to speak to AWB Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee
AWB has invited state Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, and Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley, to present to the AWB Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee about the latest work of the state’s Tax Structure Work Group.

The meeting is scheduled for Dec. 7, with a time to be determined. Contact AWB Government Affairs Director Tommy Gantz for more information on the meeting or to register for the Zoom call.
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 AWB EVENTS & RESOURCES
 

Transportation listening tour continues
AWB is partnering with several local chambers of commerce to host a statewide listening tour to gather input from the business community on the possibility of a transportation package. A slate of meetings continues.

AWB Government Affairs Director Mike Ennis said that his discussions with lawmakers indicate a potential transportation package will likely include an increase in the gas tax and some form of carbon pricing.

The AWB listening tour will be conducted over Zoom, with leadership and a focus from local chambers of commerce in each community: Tuesday, Nov. 24, 10 a.m. in Spokane
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. in the Tri-Cities
Thursday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m. in Bellevue
Thursday, Dec. 3, 1 p.m. in Seattle
Contact Mike Ennis to learn more.
READ MORE
 
 

Hear from U.S. Sen. Murray, Congresswoman-Elect Strickland at Dec. 8 AWB election webinar
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Representative-elect Marilyn Strickland will join AWB on Dec. 8 for the latest in our series of free post-election webinars. We’ll also be joined by Murray’s chief of staff, Mindi Linquist.

Register here for the Dec. 8 webinar, and mark your calendar for the conclusion of the series on Jan. 21, with a post-inauguration look at the first 100 days of the new administration.
 
 

Join the season of generosity with the Holiday Kids’ Tree Project
This year has been challenging for rural Washingtonians. The economic downturn that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic was followed by devastating wildfires. Many families are wondering if the spirit of holiday giving will be possible this year. Thankfully, AWB has a program in place to aid Washingtonians who lack access to larger urban support systems. For over 30 years now, AWB has hosted the Holiday Kids’ Tree Project, which brings aid to rural families during the holiday season. Your donation is needed more than ever this year.

Please consider donating to this project now, through November or as part of our Giving Tuesday campaign on Dec. 1. Our collective efforts make a giant impact at the local level. All donations are tax-deductible and monthly installments are accepted. Every dollar helps, but we hope your business considers donating at the family level of $200 or sponsoring a rural fire district grant for $1,000. Read more about donation options.

Please contact Susie Griffin with questions.
 
DONATE NOW
 
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 TWEET OF THE WEEK

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 THEY SAID IT
“Data suggests that restaurants are not the problem, yet the decision to close indoor dining will further their economic harm.” ~ from a letter signed by seven Democratic legislators, led by AWBs Legislator of the Year, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, and sent to Gov. Jay Inslee, requesting that he rescind his new order closing down in-person restaurant dining. Instead, they ask for restaurants to stay open with safety measures and reduced capacity.
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