Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Public Hearings Regarding Draft Paid Leave Rules and Regulations June 10 and June 25

Beginning February 2016, employers will be required to provide up to 24 hours of paid leave annually to employees in Tacoma. 

The leave can be used for temporary time off of work for health or safety needs. Paid leave rules and regulations have been drafted and are now available for community members to review at, and they are invited to provide feedback at one of the following public hearings:

June 10, 2015 – 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
STAR Center (Discovery Room) 3873 S. 66th St.

June 25, 2015 – 10 - 11:30 a.m.
Tacoma Public Library Main Branch (Olympic Room) 1102 Tacoma Ave. S.

Feedback can also be shared by emailing or calling (253) 591-5306.

Friday, May 22, 2015

City of Tacoma Offers Tax Amnesty Program

Registered and unregistered businesses in Tacoma can – from June 1, 2015 – June 30, 2015 – apply for this one-time program.

It waives penalties and interest on local City of Tacoma business tax and license fees that were due April 30, 2015 or prior, to include:
Business and Occupation Taxes
Private Utility Taxes (Telephone, Cellular, Cable, Solid Waste, Natural Gas, Electricity)
Admissions Taxes
Gambling Taxes
Annual Business License Fees
Regulatory License Fees
Unreported Liabilities (excluding those that are a part of a bankruptcy proceeding where payment of business taxes or license fees would violate federal bankruptcy laws and civil penalties that have been sent to the City’s collection agency)

The program also waives 50 percent of civil penalties (excluding civil penalties that have been sent to the City’s collection agency).

The payment deadline is July 31, 2015.

Unregistered Businesses

For unregistered businesses, the “look-back” period is limited to four years in addition to the current year. By June 30, 2015, they must submit a completed Application for Registration and Business or Rental Business License. By July 31, 2015, they must pay all unreported tax and license fees due for 2011 through 2015 and 50 percent of any civil penalties due on their account. They must also submit any supplemental information required for regulatory licenses. Lastly, they must waive their right to seek a refund or challenge the amount of taxes paid under the program.

Registered Businesses

By July 31, 2015, registered businesses must pay all tax and license fees due, as well as 50 percent of any civil penalties due. They must also submit any supplemental information required for regulatory licenses and file and pay all tax returns on time during the amnesty period. This includes tax returns due May 31, 2015, June 30, 2015 and July 31, 2015. Lastly, they must waive their right to seek a refund or challenge the amount of taxes paid under the program.

More information is available at Phone calls can be directed to 311 within Tacoma or (253) 591-5200 from anywhere else. Emails can be directed to

Mayors Join Forces Supporting TPA

From mayors to cabinet secretaries on both sides of the political aisle, the message is clear: Congress should pass the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015).

See below the letter and list of mayors (including Mayor Marilyn Strickland), who are encouraging Congress to reauthorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA/"fast track").

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ex-Im Bank Exec Presents Overview to W2W15

Ex-Im Bank Executive Erin Gulick spoke to the Chamber's Washington-to-Washington, D.C. 2015 Conference dinner Wednesday evening May 13.  In addition to her comments, she provided all attendees with a flyer summarizing the record accomplishments of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Mayor Hears Chamber & Community, Appoints Minimum Wage Task Force

In the category of surprising, yet encouraging, a day after the Chamber sent a letter to the Mayor highlighting the need for a community task force to discuss the minimum wage, the Mayor led the City Council to establish just such a task force. 

The Chamber's letter clearly touched a nerve and brought to the fore a rumbling that could be heard throughout Tacoma - the 15 Now proposal is just too extreme for Tacoma. 

Because of the tight timeline for the Council to act if it wants to put something on the ballot, the Mayor asked councilmembers to provide names for the task force in just 3 days.

The names are now out with appointments made last Tuesday at that night's council meeting.  The people tasked with hashing out the minimum wage issue in Tacoma are:

• Kelly Chambers, owner of Visiting Angels
• Sarah Cherin, political and public policy director for United Food and Commercial Union 21
• Gregory Christopher, pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church & head of the Tacoma chapter of the NAACP
• Odette D’Aniello, owner of Celebrity Cake Studio
• Michelle Douglas, executive director for the Rainbow Center
• Liz Dunbar, executive director for Tacoma Community House
• Eric Hahn, vice president for General Plastics & a member of the Workforce Central board
• Dennis Farrow, owner of Advanced Technology Construction
• Reggie Frederick, owner of Chalet Bowl
• Jason Kinlow, owner of A Taste of Philly
• Elizabeth Lewis, a minimum-wage worker at Staff Pro & 15Now Supporter
• Ali Modarres, director of the Urban Studies at University of Washington Tacoma
• Abranna Romero Rocha, a student at Lincoln High School & 15Now Supporter
• David Strong, executive director for AIDS Housing Association of Tacoma & pastor at Greater Christ Community Church
• Brenda Wiest, legislative affairs coordinator for Teamsters 117

• Russ Heaton (alternate), owner of Doyle’s Public House• Robert Taylor (alternate), member field director for Service Employees International Union 1199

The list clearly contains more non-profit entities than anything else which should make the conversation interesting as it may focus more on how to help the least fortunate rather than how to punish people for running businesses.

We hope all members will carefully consider what the best solution for Tacoma is rather than trying to represent a narrow constituency group.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Business Leaders Call For Cooperative Process For A Better Minimum Wage Solution

Tacoma business leaders are calling on Tacoma’s Mayor Marilyn Strickland to convene a citizen process to develop a compromise on the minimum wage issue. Such a process will result in an increase that respects the relative strength of the Tacoma economy.

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson announced the Chamber recently commissioned a public opinion survey regarding the proposed minimum wage increase in Tacoma. He emphasized the results show it is not just the business community that is concerned about the size of the increase.

“Citizens want to see an increase in the minimum wage, but many expressed concern that a move to $15 was just too extreme #2xtreme253 and could harm our local economy,” he said. “That’s why we think it is best for everyone to develop a compromise the whole city can support.”

Pierson said if the current proposal passes and immediately increases the minimum wage to $15 an hour on January 1, 2016, it would give Tacoma the highest minimum wage in the state and the entire country. He pointed out that Seattle is increasing the minimum wage in steps over a period of four to seven years, depending on the size of the business. Currently, their minimum wage is $11 an hour.

“Many of my members could support an increase in the minimum wage, but we don’t think our economy is strong enough for an increase that is so much higher than what Seattle has today. We would like to see all the sides come together and develop a package that reflects what is best for Tacoma,” he said.

Pierson said their survey, conducted by DHM Research, shows voters in Tacoma strongly support a minimum wage increase, but they find the size of the proposed increase to $15 too extreme. He said it was clear there would be much more support for a smaller increase phased in over time.

“When polling was done in Seattle regarding the proposed move to $15 an hour, there was overwhelming support in excess of 65 percent. In Tacoma the support was below 50 percent, suggesting if there is not a compromise, there is a real chance no increase will pass. We can take the uncertainty away by building a compromise proposal that has the support of a vast majority of Tacoma residents,” he said.

Pierson added that Mayor Strickland is absolutely the right person to convene a group to forge a fair compromise.“The Mayor has universal respect and there is no question she strongly supports the working men and women who live and work in Tacoma,” he said.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chambers Support Federal Permitting Reform

Today, with the support of the Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber, the US Chamber of Commerce delivered to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs in support of S. 280, the Federal Permitting Improvement Act of 2015 a letter was signed over 300 state and local chambers and associations throughout the country urging Congressional leaders to act to fix the broken federal permitting process.

Additionally, today, US Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue published commentary in The Examiner regarding the broken federal permitting process for critical energy and infrastructure projects.  The piece included an infographic showing the wide variations between past and present permitting delays.  Citing the Project No Project study (2010), the Chamber found over 350 projects that were cancelled, delayed, or litigated indefinitely during the permitting process.

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