Wednesday, July 27, 2011

KorUS: The Path Ahead

The U.S.-Korea FTA Coalition reports that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk publicly stated Tuesday that "we believe we have the framework for an agreement that will allow us very quickly, when Congress reconvenes in September, to approve and have a vote" on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and on the pending FTAs.

"We're still working with the leadership to come up with the kind of specifics of how we'd sequence that," Kirk said, noting that the proposed framework "would allow us to get a vote on TAA," give Senate Republican Leader McConnell a chance to make his case for Trade Promotion Authority and "give us a chance to move" the FTAs.

House and Senate leaders have agreed on a deal that would provide a path to move the pending free trade agreements forward in conjunction with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA, retraining for workers laid off by trade impacts) but are still waiting for White House approval of the deal and do not expect that to occur before Congress recesses in August, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (D-MI) said (July 27).

Camp said the administration has not yet signed off on the deal, which would allow it to begin the process of sending the trade deals to Congress, because White House officials who would approve such a deal are the same as those deeply involved in the ongoing debt negotiations.

Camp said he did not think the White House would submit the FTAs until September, after the congressional summer recess that is scheduled to begin August 5.

Camp called the deal "reasonable" and one that will ensure the White House that TAA and the pending trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are voted on. "I think we are trying to bring [the White House] to that conclusion," he said to reporters at the event. "I haven't heard the final word."

The deal would have the Senate vote first on TAA without the trade deals being sent up. Once TAA clears the Senate, the White House should have the assurances to send the FTAs to the House. The House would then move on both the FTAs and TAA separately, Camp said.

"To get the most support we can for TAA we need to have had the [trade] agreements sent up before the House votes on TAA," he said.

Camp said there was the deal has the support of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT).

Separately, in remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this morning, Camp declared that "victory is in sight" on the FTAs, but success is not yet assured. I'm hopeful now that we have this path forward [the White House] will sign on to it," he said.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wake UP with Tom Pierson!

Miss the chance to meet Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson at our last few events?

Catch him at our next Wake UP - the University Place-Fircrest Division monthly meeting this Friday, July 29th from 7:30 - 9:00 am. All Chamber members are welcome to attend.

Find out where he sees the Chamber going and let him know what ideas you have on programs or services you'd like to see the Chamber improve or provide to help your business succeed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Feedback for WA Legislative Sessions

The Association of Washington Business (AWB) invites businesses to its Regional Meetings throughout the State of Washington.  For Tacoma-Pierce County:

Sept. 12, 2011 at 2:30-5:00 p.m.
TrueBlue, Inc. (1st Fl. Auditorium)
1015 A Street
Tacoma WA  98402

AWB staff will provide an overview of the 2011 legislative objectives. This is your chance to share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions with AWB, as well as a time to network with your fellow AWB members. Your input will help AWB's board of directors establish its next legislative priorities at its Policy Summit Sept. 21-23.

You may attend whatever AWB meetings fit into your schedule. Members and prospective members are invited to attend this free event. For registration for the regional meetings or if you have any questions, please contact Bonnie Millikan or 800-521-9325.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What's Important to Business Success?

Local businesses can answer questions important to growing our economy in Tacoma-Pierce County. This Jobs Survey likely takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

Here is your link to the Jobs Survey.

"Knowing the answers to these questions helps us identify issues so we can work to remove obstacles for existing businesses and to highlight the community attributes when recruiting new companies to Pierce County," said Denise Dyer, manager of the Pierce County Economic Development Division.

The first-ever comprehensive survey of businesses across the four-county Puget Sound region begins on Thursday, July 14. The "Jobs Survey" builds on a 2010 survey that captured responses from nearly 1,200 King County businesses in 15 unique industry sectors.

"First, it seeks to learn what your business needs to be successful here. Second, it answers what is unique to our county and region that adds value to having your business here, " said Dyer.

In addition, the survey is posted Pierce County's website and a hard copy will be available upon request to Hans Kueck, Pierce County Economic Development Division, or 253-798-2335.

Responses will be collected until Aug. 11. Each survey respondent will be entered to win two Southwest Airlines  Green LUV tickets.

Since multiple organizations will be sending invitations, a single employer may get the survey's link from several sources. To verify data, participants will be asked to provide contact information. These details will remain confidential and no attribution to individuals will be made.

Please remember to enter your zip code at the end of the survey since this will enable local officials to identify issues specific to Pierce County employers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FTAs Clear Congressional Committees

The U.S. Chamber's TradeRoots' program reports that on July 7, the pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama took an important step forward as they were approved in the "mock" markups held by the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees.

No amendments were approved, which most supporters consider good news as approval of amendments in these non-binding hearings is generally regarded as problematic to the approval process. In the complex process for Congressional consideration of trade agreements, the next step--when the White House sends the implementing bills to Congress--could come as early as this week.

However, a continuing disagreement about how to consider legislation to extend Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is complicating the outlook. (TAA is a program providing job retraining for workers displaced by international trade competition.) The Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp, stuck a deal with the Democrat Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, and with the White House on the substance of a bill. However, discussions on how to give the measure due consideration in Congress are still ongoing.

In the meantime, the insertion of the TAA bill in the implementing bill for the U.S.-Korea FTA resulted in it winning approval in mirror-image partisan votes in the House and Senate committees. In the Senate Finance Committee, where the Korea bill included the TAA compromise, it was approved with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans opposing nearly all declared their support for the trade agreement). The opposite happened in the House Ways and Means Committee, where TAA was not included in the Korea implementing bill: every Republican voted for it, and every Democrat voted against it.

The trade agreements with Colombia and Panama were approved in the Senate Finance Committee with bipartisan support: the votes were 17-6 on Colombia and 22-2 on Panama. In the House Ways and Means Committee, the implementing bills for the agreements with Colombia and Panama were approved with partisan votes (just as the bill for the agreement with Korea was: every Republican voted for them, and every Democrat voted against them though again, the agreements received expressions of support from some members voting no.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chamber Joins Local Clean Air Task Force

If you’ve not heard of the Wapato Hills-Puyallup River Valley PM2.5 Non Attainment Area, it’s not surprising.

Those with excellent memories may recall that the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA), under the direction of the Washington Department of Ecology in 2008 designated much of the Tacoma metro area as non-attainment in order to comply with U.S. EPA guidelines. The Chamber, the Pierce County Executive and the Port of Tacoma were foremost among local advocates to manage that designation so that it addressed the health implications and minimized the negative economic impacts.

The PSCAA has formed a stakeholders’ group called the Tacoma-Pierce County Clean Air Task Force, the task force will be responsible for recommending to the PSCAA solutions to achieve attainment in our air quality. The Chamber joins Port and County and many other representatives to accomplish this task.

While the original cause of non-attainment is overwhelmingly residential wood stove and fireplace emissions, any other sources of particulate emissions will be expected to contribute to resolving the issue. And, while the single area most negatively impacted by the air quality is South Tacoma, all areas of the Tacoma metro will be included in any solutions.

If you wish more information or to be kept within the loop, contact Gary Brackett or 253-682-1720. Gary also would like to identify Chamber members who can advise him on consequences and solutions as the stakeholders task force develops its recommendations.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Chamber Advocacy for Shoreline Development and Foss Peninsula

On June 22, the City of Tacoma Council held a Joint meeting of its Economic Development and Environment & Public Works Committees. The purpose of that joint committees meeting was a briefing of the Shoreline Master Program Update.

One item addressed in that joint committees meeting was a memorandum about the City’s action to carry out the directions of City Council Resolution No. 36702. That resolution was adopted November 15, 2005 as a compromise affecting the Chamber’s sponsored land use change banning residential and hotel/motel development north of the Murray Morgan Bridge on the east shore of the Foss Waterway.

In brief, the City’s memo seeks to support the proposition that the City is compliant with the Resolution. The Chamber’s letter addressed the enumerated points of the City’s memo, concluding that the City has not complied with the Resolution.

Both are presented at these links for your evaluation.

City Memo/Resolution

The Chamber wishes the City of Tacoma to comply with Council Resolution No. 36702 as it completes the Shoreline Master Program Update, other land use planning, infrastructure and transportation development.