Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Opposes State Initiative 522

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted this morning to oppose State Initiative 522 which concerns labeling of genetically-engineered foods.

The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee’s recommendation to oppose the initiative cited several compelling reasons:

•    Misleading labeling that only includes selected foods.
•    Costly labeling for Washington State only, impacting 70-80% of our foods – no other state has these requirements in place.
•    Implies that genetically modified food is unsafe or unhealthy, all of which have been deemed safe by the FDA.
•    Foods with certified organic labels cannot include genetically modified organisms, already allowing consumers to choose this option.
•    Will raise prices for consumers (at an average of $490 a year) and cost farm jobs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Moody's Interprets Prop 1

Today's The News Tribune editorial referred to a Moody's report about implications of Tacoma's Prop 1 and how it affects rates.

Here's a concise interpretation from reading the report, which you can also do below:

Action:  Pass-on 2% tax increase -> rates increase
Action: Don't pass-on 2% tax increase -> bond rating falls -> rates increase

Action: No tax increase -> no rate increase

Pierce County Council Joins Opposition to Tacoma's Prop 1

The Pierce County Council joined the City Councils of University Place and Lakewood as opposed to Tacoma’s Prop 1, a ballot measure solely within Tacoma that would increase taxes on residents and businesses of their jurisdictions (outside Tacoma).

The County Council voted five in favor and one opposed (with one absent) to oppose Tacoma’s Prop 1.

The TNT quotes Councilman Dan Roach: “Prop. 1 is ‘worse than taxation without representation’ because half of Tacoma Power’s customers live outside of the city limits, cannot vote on the issue and have no legal recourse.”

TNT Decries Council Politics with Utilities

The TNT reinforces its opposition to Prop. 1 in today’s editorial, noting several negative points for voters to consider.  City officials:

1)    “…developed with minimal input from the neighbors and many businesses it would impact”
2)    “…cavalierly suggested that Tacoma Power could swallow most or all of the additional 2 percent tax without passing this cost on to its ratepayers”
3)    "Or that Tacoma Power can dig into its reserves to keep rates down. (A very temporary fix.)”
4)    “…the utility’s credit can be downgraded – and ratepayers can wind up paying more when bonds are issued”

The TNT’s conclusion: “Tacomans ... shouldn’t be swayed by promises that they won’t have to pay for it.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tacoma Weekly Opposes Tacoma's Prop 1

The Tacoma Weekly has editorialized against adoption of Tacoma's Prop 1, which poses a 33% tax increase for power, natural gas and phone service.

The tax increase would raise existing tax rates of 6% by 2% points for an effective tax rate of 8%.

In addition to the editorial against Prop 1, this week's edition contains a story about the issue of Tacoma's terrible roads, but explains very well the opposition points to this unfair and burdensome proposed tax.

(Click on Image for a Larger View or Download here.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Republicans Open Survey on Transportation Package

Washington State's House of Representatives Republicans have launched a short survey on a potential transportation revenue package.

Please take a moment to fill out the survey and share the link with others— it’s here!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lakewood Council Unanimously Opposes Tacoma's Prop 1

The City of Lakewood has become the second city whose Council has voted unanimously to oppose Tacoma’s Prop. 1, a tax on utilities to fix potholes in Tacoma’s residential areas.

“It’s very unlikely that this (Lakewood) council would look to the cities of Puyallup, DuPont or Tacoma to fund our own residential road issues,” (Deputy Mayor Jason) Whalen said, according to The News Tribune, Oct. 22, 2013.

Lakewood Council members noted that several chambers of commerce (which included the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber), voiced support for their resolution in opposition.

Monday, October 21, 2013

TNT Editorial Opposes Tacoma Prop. 1

The News Tribune joins a growing opposition to Tacoma’s Prop. 1.

We agree with their comments:  “Tacoma has shockingly bad streets and a shocking history of failing to invest in them … (but) Tacoma voters should hold on Prop. 1 and wait for city leaders to figure out a street-funding solution that fits into a larger, strategic budget solution."

No on Tacoma’s Prop. 1 utility tax  The News Tribune, October 20, 2013 

Friday, October 18, 2013

E-ivote Button for Social Media

This election season you can digitally encourage friends to vote with the Pierce County Auditor’s new “I Voted” avatar. The transition from the traditional “I Voted” stickers to a digital image is both cost effective and a reflection of modern communication.

“Posting your Pierce County ‘I voted’ avatar to your social media accounts is the modern equivalent of wearing the sticker. Post it as soon as you vote to prompt your friends to vote. It’s also a good reminder that you can vote and return your ballot as soon as you’re ready,” said Auditor Julie Anderson.

The Auditor’s Office is providing images formatted for Facebook profile pictures and cover photos, and for Twitter avatars. These images can be found here or on Pierce County's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Voter turnout has improved with the shift to Vote-by-Mail, but with expected turnout for the Nov. 5 election at 46 percent, the Auditor’s Office is looking for new ways to promote voting.

“Personal outreach is the very best way to prompt participation. We want our most enthusiastic voters to promote the vote. Use your social capital and be a civic leader,” said Anderson.

Ballots will arrive on Saturday and Monday. You can vote and return your ballot as soon as you’re ready.  Ballot Drop Boxes are open now.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Community-Generated State-Wide Voter's Guide Goes Live

Washington State's Living Voter's Guide (LVG) is an online resource that invites participants to discuss statewide and local ballot measures together, to explore one another’s positions, and to build a personal, customized platform that will inform their final vote.
This voters’ guide is co-created by everyone who participates and evolves as users across the state consider the trade-offs for each measure. To see how the Living Voters Guide works, click here to check out a short video.
LVG is an online tool created by CityClub (Seattle) and researchers at the University of Washington's Department of Computer Science and Engineering that aims to help build an informed electorate and support healthy civic dialogue in our state. Their continuing partnership with the Seattle Public Library has made this resource even more helpful and trusted by over 30,000 users across the state. 
Click here for the guide.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UP Council Unanimously Opposes Tacoma Prop 1

Last night, the University Place Council voted unanimously to oppose Tacoma's Proposition 1, a 33% tax increase on Tacoma Power (as it applies to University Place ratepayers).

Gary Brackett, the Chamber's Business & Political Manager, was requested by the Chamber's West Side Branch Board of Directors, to represent their position opposing Tacoma's Prop 1 during public comments before the University Place Council. 

After hearing an issue presentation from University Place City Manager Steve Sugg and the public comments, the University Place Council suspended its rules to consider the Resolution 735 opposing Tacoma's Prop 1.  Final action resulted in the adoption of Res. 735.

 (click on Image for a Larger View)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Public Hearings on L&I Worker's Comp Rate Increase Proposal

The Department of Labor & Industries will hold six public hearings on a proposed 2.7% average increase to workers' compensation premium rates.  Employers will receive a rate notice in early December, and the new rates will go into effect January 1, 2014.

Public hearings on the proposed rates will be held in:
  • Tukwila, Oct. 22, 10 a.m., Tukwila Community Center
  • Bellingham, Oct. 23, 10 a.m., Central Library Lecture Room.
  • Spokane Valley, Oct. 24, 10 a.m., CenterPlace Event Center.
  • Richland, Oct. 25, 9 a.m., Community Center Activity Room.
  • Tumwater, Oct. 28, 10 a.m., L&I Auditorium.
  • Vancouver, Oct. 29, 10 a.m., Northwest Regional Training Center Rainier Auditorium. 
Comments about the proposed rates can be made at the public hearings or in writing to Doug Stewart, Employer Services Program Manager, P. O. Box 44140, Olympia, WA 98504-4140, or email to

More information can be found at

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lakewood Chamber Opposes Tacoma Utility Tax Prop 1

Lakewood Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors Policy Position:  OPPOSE CITY OF TACOMA PROPOSITION 1

The City of Tacoma will ask its citizens to approve an additional 2% gross earnings tax on revenues earned by the city’s utilities in the November 5 general election ballot to mitigate costs associated with road improvements. This tax will be in addition to the current City of Tacoma 6% gross earnings tax charged Tacoma Power and its ratepayers. In addition, there is a state public utility tax of 3.873% on the gross earnings of Tacoma Power.

When Proposition 1 was first announced, Bill Gaines, the director and CEO of Tacoma Public Utilities, said that if voters approve a 2 percent tax on TPU’s earnings, the utility would be forced to cover its costs by raising consumers’ rates by a similar amount.

The vote on the tax will go to Tacoma residents, but TPU serves 160,000 customers - nearly half outside Tacoma.  If the tax is passed along, it would be passed along to customers in Lakewood, Fircrest, University Place, Fife, parts of Steilacoom, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and unincorporated Pierce County, as well.

Our argument against Proposition 1 as presented is that it unfairly taxes ratepayers outside the city limits of Tacoma.  The current 6% gross earnings tax goes to the city’s general fund and thus (arguably) provides all Tacoma Power ratepayers the benefits associated with funding the City of Tacoma’s general government functionality. This tax goes specifically to maintain the streets of Tacoma and does not provide non-residents or businesses any benefit.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Opposes State I-517

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to oppose State Initiative 517 which intrusively expands the initiative process.

The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee’s recommendation to oppose the initiative derived from the following reasons:

•    Infringes on private property rights by allowing signature gatherers inside your business/school/sports stadiums on signature-gatherers' terms.

•    Businesses already receive numerous complaints of aggressive signature gatherers.

•    Impedes businesses’ ability to deal with aggressive signature gatherers.

•    Local governments and businesses will expend significant resources in court addressing illegal and unconstitutional local ballot initiatives.

Is Your Business Impacted by the Federal Government Shut-Down

Has your business been impacted by the federal government shutdown?

Some have.  It goes beyond the question of procurement and payment for goods and services.  There are certifications and reports from federal sources that are in due diligence and other documentary requirements.

Let Gary Brackett, 253-682-1720 know if your business is impacted in any way.

Tacoma Council Endorses its Tax Increase

Tom Pierson, Pres./CEO of the Chamber, testified last night against the Tacoma City Council’s Resolution 38748.

The Resolution proposed for the Tacoma Council to endorse the ballot issue they unanimously passed onto the Nov. 5 election ballot.

Speaking in opposition to Resolution 38748 and in opposition of Prop 1 which is a 33% tax increase and results in $10 Million+ tax that will hurt new jobs and local businesses, Pierson said the resolution was put on the public’s view with less than a days’ notice (actually it was closer to nine hours of notice), just as was the original ordinance which placed Prop 1 on the ballot. 

Pierson said the City Council needs to be collaborative, transparent and a council that will work with the community, with business, with labor for reasonable solutions to our transportation needs. He noted:

           This tax is unfair for our fixed income individuals in our community and it is unfair for locally owned businesses adding another layer of costs in an economic time that is very
           Tacoma residents are only now beginning to be charged the license-tab fee adopted last year by the City.  These dollars could be used to fund road repair.
           Allow the new Fiscal Sustainability Task Force to complete its work examining the City's revenue structure and structural budget deficit.
           Allow the new Transportation Commission to advise the City on short-term and long-range transportation planning.
           City Council has not prioritized spending on roads and current funding is four times less than most other cities—the council needs to prioritize city funds to match the needs of the community.  According to the city data we spend $7 per capita versus the average of $26…nearly 4 times less, no wonder we have a problem, the solution might lie in the prioritization of funds

In summation, Pierson said that we need to move Tacoma Forward together, and again asked the Council to work in a collaborative, transparent way with all its the partners in the community – which includes business and labor, for reasonable solutions to our transportation needs.

The Council voted 8 for, zero against and one abstention (kudos to Council member Joe Lonergan), to endorse the Prop. 1 tax issue it placed on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Council Proposes to Endorse Its Own Unanimously Adopted Ballot Proposition

This morning, Tom Pierson, President & CEO of the Chamber, emailed members of the Tacoma City Council about their proposed endorsement of Tacoma Prop. 1, the Utility Tax Increase.

His email:

Mayor Strickland and members of the Council,

Just this morning the City Council’s agenda for this evening’s meeting was posted online.  Buried in this agenda is a new Resolution, No. 38748, expressing support for the Council’s Proposition 1 to raise an additional $10M in tax revenues.

As you are aware, the Chamber's Board of Directors voted to oppose this proposition.  This means we are also in opposition to Resolution No. 38748.

If passed, these taxes will be passed on to the end users resulting in higher consumer costs across the board.  While maintaining streets are important to the City, Tacoma currently spends a far smaller portion of its budget maintaining roads than similar jurisdictions.  Allocation of resources should be addressed before simply asking the public for more money.

If you have any questions on this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me.