Monday, March 30, 2009

Chamber Takes It to Olympia

A delegation of Chamber leaders held a conference luncheon with many of the Washington State Senators and Legislators from Pierce County last week in Olympia.

Rep. Larry Seaquist addresses the Chamber delegation.

Handling the leadership duties was Hans Hechtman, Comcast’s Government Affairs Manager and the Chamber’s Vice-Chair for Government Relations. He, along with the Chamber’s Contract Lobbyist, Michael Transue, lead a discussion on the Chamber’s TEACH legislative agenda. Several legislators shared their insights on critical budget issues and likely results on key business legislation in both houses during the session.

The delegation was treated to an exchange of philosophies between Sen. Mike Carrell and Rep. Jeannie Darnielle. Sen. Carrell’s observation that the legislature’s management of the forecast budget deficit, reduced by the federal stimulus infusion, was achievable by financial stewardship and frugal expenditures on raises and similar cost increases. Rep. Darnielle said that there are real consequences to individuals because of budget cuts, including the potential loss of 5,000 teachers within the state.

Business and community representatives also highlighted their interests and needs with the delegation. Among them, Dr. Patricia Spakes, Chancellor, University of Washington Tacoma, spoke of the capital needs for the campus, including the Joy Building and the minimum financial support to keep the momentum alive.

Business representatives addressed the need to protect our competitive environment and to recognize the tough choices businesses are making.

Our special thanks to event sponsors Boeing, Comcast, KeyBank, and Puget Sound Energy for hosting this event for everyone.

The Chamber has a strong program of advocacy for business issues. The Public Affairs Council is open to any interested members and meets monthly on the 3rd Thursday at 8 am in the Chamber’s office.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fife Works Toward Tax on Loading Dock Doors: Will Set Precedent

The City of Fife, following a proposal before its City Council, has formed a Stakeholders Group to report this issue. Currently, the deadline for the report is the first of May, with Fife Council potential action on May 12.

Whether that action will be a hearing or adoption of an ordinance is currently undetermined.

The proposed tax ($100/active door) is based on state law for business licensing by the City, not by any taxing on trucks (which could potentially come under U.S. Constitutional authority of interstate commerce). Background documents for this proposed tax are available here. The background documents are:
  • Agenda for Stakeholders Mtg-Loading Dock Doors, March 12, 2009

  • Excerpt, Fife City Council Regular Meeting, Feb. 10, 2009, Public Hearing, pg. 3.
  • Memo, Stakeholder Meeting for Loading Dock Door Tax, 2-03-09

  • Fife Loading Dock Door Tax Fact Sheet

  • Map, Fife Truck Routes

  • Memo, Fife note to City Council for Public Hearing to be held 1-27-09

  • Concept Paper, Fife, Loading Dock Door Tax

  • Inventory of Loading Doors in the City

  • Fife Example of Truck Route Cost

  • Fife proposed Ordinance No. 1693

New Background document: Opinion Memo

For a Hobbesian choice, Fife City Manager Steve Worthington has said in stakeholders meeting, that Fife would not adopt or keep this tax if the state legislature passed a city street utility tax law, currently as HB 1947.

Fife is the first of a number of small cities considering this revenue source. Mentioned as considering the proposed tax: Renton, Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Sumner, Puyallup; collectively know as the Valley Cities. However, if Fife is successful, you can bet cities of all sizes will go this way. Spokane is reportedly working on adopting it now.

The Chamber is considering action. Please let us know your sentiments with your comments to this blog or by contacting Gary Brackett, 253-627-2175.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why Must It Be Mfg. or Whsle.?

The Pierce County Council's Community Development Committee spent 2.5 hrs. this afternoon, principally on the proposal changes to the industrially designated lands as defined in the Land Use Code.

To their credit, the Pierce County Council listened and professionally questioned staff and those who testified without being critical and staff responded to comments and questions without being disdainful.

Those speaking against the changes to the Proposal No. 2009-18 that would amend the Pierce County (Land Use) Code were representatives of the Port of Tacoma, Northwest Door, Tacoma-Piece Co. Chamber, Investco and Pacific Rim Real Estate. The rationale for the change that would restrict industrial lands was supported by staff's draft report, A Reasonable Measure to Address Job Growth on Scarce Industrial Lands.

Readers may refer to earlier blogs on this subject to gain some continuity. The News Tribune published an overview of the issue March 21.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fighting Over Industrial Lands

Pierce County's citizens and economic developers have more time to review and comment on a proposal to reserve/restrict (depending on your perspective) industrial lands for the highest employment density opportunities.

Blogged earlier here, the Pierce County Economic Development Division has initiated a proposal to change the industrial land codes for industrially-designated lands. This proposal is supported by an industrial lands report about the diminishing capacity of large parcel industrially-designated lands.

The Council's Community Development Committee at its Monday afternoon hearing, took testimony, left the record open for written comments until its next meeting and announced plans to take additional verbal and written testimony at that next meeting, called for March 16, 1:30 p.m. at their hearing room on the 10th floor, County-City Building.

The Chamber requests member comment about this proposal and the need to either restrict or reserve industrial lands - as well as your perspective on designating additional industrial lands either within the present Growth Management Boundaries or expanding the GMA Boundaries.

Your comments here, or by email to me or Chelsea will be most appreciated.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vote Yes for Tacoma Schools

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Board voted in the affirmative to support the current bond measure on the March 10th ballot.

The $300 million bond measure, if passed, will help generate better school facilities in the area and assist in stimulating the local economy.

Major construction will take place at the following schools:
  • Baker Middle School

  • Hunt Middle School

  • Stewart Middle School

  • Wilson High School (Phase 2)

More information can be found at