Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shop Talk with Congressman Dicks

A broad cross section of leading executives in the Tacoma-Pierce county area turned out for the Chamber’s 21st Century Partners’ Insider Briefing Monday morning. CEOs in the private sector to Executive Directors in the public sector were able to speak with Congressman Norm Dicks on federal issues.

Ray Tennison, Simpson Investment Company told a story of meeting with Cong. Dicks after work at the Congressman’s office to discuss an industry issue and suggest a specific language change in an upcoming bill. Cong. Dicks not only met on the issue, but took it before Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and got the necessary language change.

“Still getting used to the idea that we’re running this place,” Rep. Dicks joked.

Cong. Dicks spoke to the group about the stimulus plan. He would prefer more infrastructure, spending especially on stormwater and waste water treatment. He pointed out that it is unlikely that there will be a second stimulus package as there is a need to get the first package’s dollars “out and spent to help encourage the economy.”

A sector of the economy that Dicks says we should appreciate during this tough economic time is the military presence in the area. “We’re fortunate to have federal installation like the shipyard, Fort Lewis, and McChord AFB. It gives the area much needed stability,” Dicks said.

Dicks went on to speak about health care, a controversial issue. He said, “health care costs are killing us” and we need to do something about it. Town hall meetings are coming up next week and Dicks was hoping for civility—a key component of the democratic process.

His aides passed out a New Yorker article that Dicks found interesting about the health care controversy, especially about the waste from unnecessary tests mentioned in the article. He went on to mention Washington State is not being fully compensated by the federal government for its health spending and he is working on an improved reimbursement formula for states like ours. He, along with other members of the Washington State congressional state delegation, are pushing for the Institute of Medicine to determine the existing disparities between geographic areas and how to fix that issue.

Let’s at least reform Medicare. Thirty percent of expenses can be reformed without impacting quality of care,” urged Dicks.

Blog Author: Mike Weinman, Government Affairs Manager

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An Alternative to Layoffs

Employment Security’s Shared-Work Program allows employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of their full-time employees by up to 50 percent, while the workers collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.

Shared Work is great for employers because they get to keep their experienced and skilled workers.

The program is designed to be flexible to meet a variety of business needs – and it is working. A record 2,062 businesses and nearly 42,000 employees are currently participating in the program.

In a recent survey of participating employers, 56% said the Shared-Work Program has helped them survive the recession.

Information about the program is available online, search on “shared work,” or by phone at 800-752-2500.

Guest Author: Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Streets to Close Around Luzon Building

At this afternoon’s City Council Study Session City staff announced that starting tomorrow S. 13th Street and the southbound outside lane of Pacific Ave., adjacent to the Luzon Building will close for an undetermined amount of time.

The street closures are the City’s response to the “life safety” risks that the deterioration of the Luzon Building poses to pedestrians and passing traffic. Drivers accessing I-705 are encouraged to detour to ramps at S. 21st St. and S. 9th St.

Friday, August 7, 2009

To Be or Not To Be Effective

The State is seeking a new mission (and has a new name) for its principal agency charged with business assistance and economic development.

You may help shape their agenda by taking a survey designed to gain a broad sense of the state’s opportunities and challenges to grow and improve jobs in Washington. Just click on this link.

The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete. The survey will close on August 28.

Feedback will help inform the proposals in a report for the Governor and Legislature by November 1. The report will include recommendations about the key functions that best fit the mission and vision of the Department of Commerce. This survey does not explicitly address how the agency will be structured because they seek first to clearly define the functions they should be doing and will then organize to be successful.

Thank you for your commitment to helping shape the new Washington State Department of Commerce. If you have additional comments or ideas beyond the survey questions, you can email them.

Freeing Up Trade

The Growing Washington in a Global Economy video is available on:

Segment A: introduction and opening remarks
The Segment A will include remarks by Cong. Adam Smith, 9th District, Washington, and Liz Reilly, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Segment B: 1st panel

Produced by TVW, you may follow the links to purchase a DVD if you so choose.