Friday, March 29, 2013

Chamber Supports TPS as Charter Schools Authorizer

Last night, the Tacoma School (TPS) Board agreed to notify the Washington State Board of Education of its interest in becoming a charter school authorizer.

The Chamber supports the TPS Board in its action to become an authorizer, as it also supported the successful adoption of I-1240, the state-wide initiative for charter schools.

Next, the TPS Board has until October 1 to submit intent letters with full applications due December 31. (click on image for a larger view)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Federal Defense Employees at JBLM

Our community is often focused on service members and their families that call JBLM home now.  And justifiably so.

But JBLM is also home to thousands of civilian workers whose families too make up the friends and neighbors of our community.

As the implications of sequestration and civilian furloughs plays out, consider not just the numbers, but the jobs performed with skill and dedication by these federal employees.  Following is a list of job titles/duties shared at last week's Elected Officials Council of the South Sound Military & Community Partnership:

(click on images for a larger view)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Updated Time and Location for Leg Day 2

Due to the dynamic nature of the current legislative session, the Chamber has had to revise our meeting time and place for our second Legislative Advocacy Day of the session.

Please note the event is now starting at 12:00 p.m. in Conference Rooms A, B, and C of the John A. Cherberg Building, 304 15th Ave., SW Olympia.

Please visit our events page to register.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pierce Co. Council Endorses SR 167 Completion

To reinforce its support for completion of SR 167, the unanimous Pierce County Council issued a resolution noting the reasons and benefits to the state for completion of this vital economic link in our transportation infrastructure.

(click on images for a larger view)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

WATER Coalition Writes Governor

The Chamber believes that the path to shared success for all of our state’s residents is one of sustainable prosperity – balancing protection of the environment with policies and investments that ensure the health of the business community and the creation of living-wage jobs. 

In September 2011, the WA State Department of Ecology began a study of the state’s fish consumption rate (an estimate of the amount of fish residents eat each week).  The more fish residents are assumed to eat, the stricter water quality standards.

If a fish consumption rate is included in the water quality standards rule that results in unachievable standards, human health will not be improved, but the state’s economy will face significant harm. So, the Chamber participates in the Washingtonians for Triple-bottom-line Environmental Regulation (WATER) Coalition.

That is why the Chamber has joined with business, government and community leaders across the state in the WATER Coalition: to ensure that the state uses a science-based approach to set a fish consumption rate and water quality standards that are achievable, affordable and keep jobs in Washington state.

Follows is a recent letter members of the WATER coalition have sent to the Governor. (click on images for a larger view)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be a Part of Leg Day 2

You may register for the Chamber 2013 Leg Day 2 here.

Join other local businesses as the Chamber meets with the Pierce County Delegation in Olympia.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tacoma Should Not Feel the Pain of Seattle's Sick and Safe Leave

by Sen. John Braun and Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson

Since when did Washington State give its cities the right to create laws that apply to businesses throughout the state and even internationally? We don’t believe it did; however, the City of Seattle seems to think it can do just that.

Seattle adopted City Council Bill 117216 in 2011, and when it started implementation in 2012, the city began applying its own labor laws to any business that happened to have an employee venturing into the city limits. What happened next was a nightmare for employers contributing to our regional economy. These businesses are outside the city limits, so they are unable to take part in Seattle’s political process.

Now, if an employee goes to a meeting in Seattle, employers must track those hours from the time they cross the city limits until they exit. They must track hourly employees and salaried employees. They even have to track the hours for someone driving a truck to the Port of Seattle from Yakima or of someone coming from Bellevue to meet with a client.

While we support local control and believe the City of Seattle has a right to put this law in effect within the city, we question its right to mandate benefits and compensation packages for those businesses located outside the city limits.

Elected officials and business representatives are hearing from employers about the challenge of monitoring sporadic, infrequent, or term-limited trips to Seattle – and treating these employees differently from the rest of the staff. This is a matter of fairness, especially for small businesses that are now forced to do burdensome recordkeeping.

Additionally, due to the complicated rules, it is not clear that all the additional record keeping will lead to significant benefits for workers. In many cases the benefits will be random and minimal. This is a lose-lose situation. The higher administrative costs for employers will reduce the amount of money available for wages and benefits.

Furthermore, Seattle’s mandate has effectively taken away the bargaining rights of some represented and unrepresented groups. Requiring sick days prohibits groups from determining how many, or even if, they should roll sick leave into a more general and flexible “paid time off” category. Most employees—unionized or not—prefer flexibility when deciding what is best for them.

We have to ask ourselves: Why is a local government trying to dictate the best interests of workers all over the state?

While the goal of this law may be to create a more productive workforce, the bill also appears to try to force all companies outside of the city to follow Seattle’s method of “encouraging” business. By creating an insurmountable accounting burden, Seattle is hoping companies throughout the region will be forced to follow Seattle’s law company-wide. These attacks across municipal lines must stop.

Just as Seattle would not welcome laws placed on it by Centralia or Tacoma, we do not welcome Seattle’s creation of a new de facto statewide labor law. If Seattle chooses to place this burdensome requirement on businesses within city limits, that is their prerogative, but they should not be able to place this mandate on the entire state.

To limit the negative impacts to our business environment, the legislature must limit the reach of Seattle’s law from extending beyond municipal boundaries. To accomplish this, we support the passage of Senate Bill 5726, which returns sanity to the non-Seattle-centric business community by limiting the impacts of local legislation to within the city limits. If you believe Seattle has gone too far in its attacks on businesses across the state like we do, please contact your local legislators and ask them to support SB 5726.

John Braun represents the 20th Legislative district, and is also a partner in his family-owned manufacturing company, Braun NW, which builds emergency response vehicles and employs more than 150 workers. Tom Pierson is the President & CEO of the Tacoma Pierce County Chamber.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On Passing of Gov. Booth Gardner

Tom Pierson, President and CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber issued the following statement upon learning of the passing of former Washington State Governor Booth Gardner.

"Governor Gardner made a great number of significant and lasting contributions to our community, Pierce County, and Washington State. His legacy is founded on public service, civility, and creating a better quality of life for all citizens of our region. Our sympathies and prayers are with his family during this difficult time."

A public memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 30 at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tacoma Council Supports Fully Funded 167

The Tacoma City Council received a legislative agenda update at today’s study session from Randall Lewis, the City’s Government Relations Officer. Transportation continues to be a primary focus for local leaders and the Tacoma Council is no different.

Highlighted in the presentation was the transportation revenue package put forth by House Democrats, which included the size of the package, revenue sources, local revenue, and proposed projects. State Route 167 held a prominent position in the package with an allocation of $1 billion for the project in combination with SR 509, however far below the estimated $1.5 billion for the completion SR 167 alone.

Councilman Mello noted that support for the package would not move forward without full funding for SR 167.

Completion of SR 167 is a top priority and the Chamber likewise only supports a revenue package that provides full funding for the project. The Chamber looks forward to continuing collaboration with local leaders and organizations to accomplish this end.