Wednesday, December 31, 2008

EPA Confirms FINAL Action

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finally made it final what was a predetermined action. The EPA has notified our Governor that most of the Tacoma-Pierce County metro area is in non-attainment for air suspended PM (particulate matter) 2.5 (microns).

Despite only a single air quality monitor exceeded the newest federal standard, action by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the Washington State Department of Ecology and now the U.S. EPA has encumbered the bulk of the metro area including its economic engine, the port-industrial area (although that area's monitor continues to show compliance with air quality standards). Now comes a deliberate process of planning and implementation that will include most of the metro rather than focusing on the cause, fireplace and old wood stoves in the South Tacoma area.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Brings Tax Joy

Business in Tacoma will again get relief from City B&O taxes as the City Council has adopted an increase in the threshold of minimum income before the tax applies. A long time advocacy of the Chamber, chronicled earlier in this blog, the Chamber has expressed its appreciation to the Tacoma City Council for this proactive effort to improve our current economy and our strategic business climate.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Could Washington get another Congressional seat?

In a study released yesterday by Election Data Services, if current population trends continue, the West and South will see increases in their number of congressional representatives, while the Northeast and Midwest will decline by a similar number based on projected census data.  

According to the study, Washington is in the running for a potential new seat but it is a long (very long) shot.  In all instances, the numbers will be close.  From the report:

"A review of the last 5 seats/ next 5 seats calculations demonstrates the extreme closeness and volatility inherent in the 2010 population projections. At this point in time there are 13 seats from the same number of states that are vying for the last six seats in the 435 member congressional chamber.

"Six states are close to gaining an additional seat (Florida – 27th; North Carolina – 14th; Oregon – 6th: South Carolina – 7th; Texas – 36th and Washington – 10th), while seven states are very close to loosing a seat (California – 53rd; Illinois – 19th; Louisiana – 7th; Minnesota – 8th; Missouri – 9th; New York – 28th; Pennsylvania – 18th)."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chamber's WA State Legislative Priorities

The Chamber Board of Directors has adopted its 2009 Washington State Legislative Agenda. Developed by the Chamber's Public Affairs Council, with input from various committees and divisions of the Chamber, it again employs the TEACH format to ease presentation. This is your Chamber's agenda. Join us in seeking its enactment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ordinance No. 27763 Passed! (Huh?) City B&O Floor Raised!

Ordinance No. 27763 passed the city council last night. The ordinance increased the threshold for the B&O tax for businesses in the city limits to $72,500 annually. The Chamber worked with local businesses and economic development leaders to push for this increase.

While this is a positive outcome, eventually, the Chamber would like to see the entire B&O tax eliminated by 2020 for every business. The ordinance is written to increase the floor by $2,500 every year, without sunset.

Below is the vote tally for last night's passage:

Ordinance No. 27763
Amending Title 6A of the Municipal Code, relating to Business and Occupation
Tax, to increase the gross income threshold by $2,500 annually, effective
January 1, 2009.
Ayes: 8 Nays: 0 Absent: 1

The Chamber was a long time advocate of eliminating the City and State's B&O taxes. At this summer's City Council Government Performance and Finance Committee, the Chamber spoke out for reducing the B&O tax. The Chamber specifically suggested a gradualist approach so City services would not suffer harm. One of our suggested methods was to raise the floor, which is the choice enacted by the City Council.