Monday, July 23, 2012

PNTR for Russia Progresses

Last week, Russia approved legislation ratifying the country's accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The measure making Russia the 156th WTO member will become law within 30 days.

Meanwhile, The Hill reported:  “The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) measure combined with a repeal of Jackson-Vanik last Wednesday. During the past several weeks, business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have ramped up their push for passage of a trade bill before lawmakers leave town for the summer break.”

"This is a huge message to the House and is the momentum burst the business community has been hoping for," Christopher Wenk, senior director of international policy at the U. S. Chamber, told The Hill. "This is the one issue in Washington with bipartisan support in the House and the Senate that can be signed by the President; there's no other issue out there. This is a fantastic outcome."

The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee announced (7/20) they are cosponsoring legislation to terminate Jackson-Vanik status for Russia and Moldova, allowing Permanent Normal Trade Relations to be granted.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, While this legislation removes Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment, . . . (t)he underlying bill promotes rule of law in Russia and addresses significant enforcement concerns, particularly on the protection of intellectual property rights and Russia’s compliance with WTO obligations. (P)assage of this legislation will mean growth for American industry and workers by taking advantage of reduction in barriers to U.S. exports from the beginning. . . I remain particularly concerned about Russian international engagement and the ongoing violence in Syria.”

Bruce Josten, the U.S. Chamber's executive vice president for Government Affairs, said "The United States gives up nothing - not a single tariff - in approving PNTR." And John Murphy, the Chamber's vice president for International Affairs, said in a Free Enterprise blog post last Tuesday: "Momentum is building . . . With Russia's accession to the WTO set for August, we can't afford to wait."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First Pierce County Flood Control Zone District Meeting

The first Board of Supervisors meeting for the Pierce County Flood Control Zone District will take place tomorrow, July 11, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will address the district’s operating rules, the naming of board officers, procedures for establishing meetings, the approval of the purchase of liability insurance, indemnification matters, the appointment of an agent to receive claims for damages against the district, public records procedures, and the adoption of the annual budget.

The Flood Control Zone District was created by the Pierce County Council on April 3, 2012 to address the county’s flood control needs. Flood control is important in Pierce County as many of the river levees do not meet federal flood standards and are in need of maintenance and repairs. While our homes and businesses may or may not be at risk of flood damage, major flooding could seriously inhibit our ability to travel. Protecting Pierce County’s transportation infrastructure from flooding will help keep roadways and businesses open and operating without delays.

The Flood Control Zone District has a 2012 budget of $300,000 and will begin working on the 2013 budget this fall.

The meeting will be held at
930 Tacoma Avenue South-
Room 1045 Tacoma, WA 98402.

More information regarding the Flood Control Zone District may be accessed here:

City Surveys Community on Budget Priorities

In case you missed it, the Tacoma City Council is trying to fill an expected gap of ~$60M over the 2013-14 biennium.  While there are still plenty of opportunities to attend a community budget meeting where you can hear from the City and share your thoughts, the City has also put together a number of electronic options to provide your input.  Be forewarned that it can be a little overwhelming, especially since there is only limited detail available on many of the options listed.

The first survey ranks various services provided by the City in order of importance.  It takes about two minutes and consists of essentially one question.  It can be found here:

The second survey asks for suggestions on how to cut expenses or increase revenues.  It is a short three box form for those with ideas.  It can be found here:

The final survey asks about the dollars and cents of the budget.  It requires a total of 15% be cut from the general fund budget while allocating dollars to various departments.  After this distribution, the survey goes department by department asking about which programs to increase or reduce funding to.  The survey also includes some background information on how the money is being spent.  It is more of a 15-20 minute survey and can be found here:

For more on the budget details, you can view the City Manager's presentation from the budget meeting discussion here: (3.8M file)

We encourage you to get involved in the discussion now.  If you'd rather comment in person, we've posted a list of times and locations of the community meetings here.