Thursday, December 17, 2015

US Already Has FTAs with 6 TPP Countries

U.S. trade with our free trade agreement (FTA) partner countries supports more than 17.7 million American jobs and billions of dollars in U.S. exports.

The United States has routinely increased exports to FTA partners following implementation of the agreements with those countries.

The United States exported more than $739 billion in goods and services to six Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries that are already FTA partners — Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Singapore.

For more information on the value of trade and the TPP to the WA economy, click HERE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tacoma Council Will Choose Click! Option

After last week's recommendations by the Tacoma Public Utilities Board, the Tacoma City Council will consider two proposals this Tuesday night for future action on Click!.

The two resolutions are distinct choices and have significant consequences for Tacoma Power ratepayers, Click! users and businesses.

As noted in the Chamber's correspondence to the Councilmembers below, the Chamber recommends the lease option for the best future course of action.  The Chamber was an initial supporter of establishing Click! as a means to bring broadband service to Tacoma.  As an industry-defined "second city," that was an unlikely outcome at that time. The subsequent existence of a competitive marketplace is frequently cited for lower rates locally.  But, the marketplace has changed.

With continuing financial losses, Tacoma Power ratepayers have subsidized Click!'s operational losses.  The "all in" option, which represents Tacoma's substantial development of Click!, represents a $38 million bill over 10 years to bring Click! up to desired standards of service.  Even the City's attorney has opined that the existing subsidy of Click! by Tacoma Power may contravene state law.

Additionally, local small, family-owned firms providing ISP in partnership with Click! are expected to be adversely impacted by the "all in" option.  These local firms also represent jobs and investment, as well as their history of partnership.

The operation and fate of Click! is a continuing conflict between the Tacoma Public Utilities Board and the Tacoma Council.  To resolve these continuing disagreements, resolve possible legal conflicts and simplify the oversight of Click!, the Chamber suggests that Click! be reorganized under the auspices of general government with direct oversight and responsibility by the City Council.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Reminding Tacoma of Campaign Promises before Tax Implementation

Before Tacoma Council action to implement the utility tax portion of the recently voter-approved Prop. 3 to Fix Tacoma's Roads, the Chamber reminded Councilmembers of promises to voters to apportion dollars among all types of road and transportation projects.

It is important that from the very beginning of this Tacoma roads package that promises be kept with voters and all the advocates for the needed and necessary transportation projects.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Deadline for Public Comment on Draft Minimum Wage Rules and Minimum Wage Workplace Notice Set for Dec. 18

A deadline of Friday, Dec. 18 has been set for public comment on the draft minimum wage rules and minimum wage workplace notice.

Initiative Measure 1B, which passed last month, called for the minimum wage to increase to $10.35 per hour on Feb. 1, 2016 (the same effective date the Paid Leave Ordinance passed in January 2015). The Tacoma minimum wage would then increase to $11.15 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017 and to $12 per hour on Jan. 1, 2018.

Public comment on the draft minimum wage rules and minimum wage workplace notice can be submitted at one of the two remaining public meetings:

• Tuesday, Dec. 15, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
• Thursday, Dec. 17, 10 - 11 a.m.

Both public meetings will take place at the Tacoma Public Library’s Main Branch (1102 Tacoma Ave. S, Olympic Room, Tacoma 98402). Those who are unable to attend a public meeting can send comments or questions HERE.

More information is available HERE.

Monday, December 7, 2015

ST3 Project List Considered

The conversation about the future of mass transit in our region took a big step forward Friday with the release of detailed studies for all the projects that could be part of a ST3 ballot measure next November. 

Sound Transit released details of the ST3 candidate projects, including cost and ridership estimates for each project along with other decision factors such as opportunities for transit-oriented development and non-motorized access options.

The Sound Transit Board identified the candidate projects last summer following a broad public involvement period. The Board focused on priorities for expanding regional transit services as the region’s population grows by a million people in the next 25 years.
Over the coming months, the studies will inform work by the Sound Transit Board to further narrow in on priorities and discuss the funding and size of a ballot measure. Stay tuned for details on how to provide input on a draft package the Board expects to release in March. Input next spring will shape a final measure planned for voter consideration in November 2016.

Check out the study results through the interactive map and full list of projects, where you’ll find more information including summaries comparing options for specific corridors. Visit the document archive for information about funding ST3, including Sound Transit’s cost methodology and track record of constructing projects on time and within budget.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

EX-IM Reauthorization One-Step Away

UPDATE:  15-12-04:The Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im Bank) was reauthorized on Friday, December 4. Garnering a strong bipartisan House vote of 359-65 and a Senate vote of 83-16, the "Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act" extends the Bank's charter through September 30, 2019. 

Months after the Export-Import Bank of the United States’ authority lapsed, the House of Representatives voted again to approve the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank as an amendment to the 5-year, $300 billion highway bill. The bill now heads to the Senate where it is expected to pass.

Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10) applauds second House vote to reopen Export-Import Bank, identifies it as huge victory for Washington’s export economy. “Congress will finally green light Ex-Im to go in and to help these companies get their products out of the warehouses and into the hands of global purchasers,” Heck said. “Once the President signs this bill into law, the Export-Import Bank can once again get American goods sold to customers around the world. This is a victory for our export economy, which includes everything from music stands to wide body jets in Washington state. But let’s be clear that this needless delay harmed small businesses mightily for months, and we can never let it happen again.”

"No one has worked harder or more effectively to reopen the Export-Import Bank than Congressman Denny Heck," stated Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer. "He has been a tenacious fighter on behalf of American businesses and workers, and I thank him for his tireless efforts to reopen the Bank."

“Pexco is pleased that House and Senate negotiators have finalized an agreement on a five-year surface transportation program bill which includes reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank,” said Peter Speer, Pexco’s Vice President of Sales. Pexco, a company with 150 employees in Fife, Wash., that makes traffic and safety products, has used Ex-Im financing in the past to sell their equipment around the world. “The multi-year bill will provide much-needed stability for the highway market domestically after a decade of short-term extensions. Renewal of the Export-Import Bank will assist our company in exporting innovative, life-saving traffic safety technologies overseas, creating jobs for our factory in Tacoma.”

“The Tacoma-Seattle metro is the 4th highest area in the value of goods exported, and 915,000 jobs in Washington depend on trade ,” said Tom Pierson, President and CEO of Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.  “Ex-Im is vital to keeping our local businesses competitive with other countries’ exporters.”

“The World Trade Center Tacoma is so pleased with the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank,” said Louise S. Tieman, President and CEO of World Trade Center Tacoma. “Our members utilize Ex-Im Bank to export to foreign markets that are not served by US Banks, and these markets generate revenue and jobs here in Washington.  There are new contracts that have been waiting in the wings for reauthorization to come through, so we are anticipating increased export volume for some of our members in the coming months.”

“Last year the Port handled $18.4 billion worth of goods destined for foreign markets. Ex-Im is an essential tool in supporting and growing those exports over time,” said Don Johnson, Port of Tacoma Commissioner. “We applaud Congressman Heck and the Washington state congressional delegation for their leadership in reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.”

“The Ex-Im Bank specializes in helping U.S. firms export goods and services and allows them to compete in foreign markets,” said Dr. Chung-Shing Lee, Associate Dean and Professor at the Pacific Lutheran University School of Business. “The reauthorization of The Ex-Im Bank levels the playing field for U.S. firms in a world of international trading distortions.”

In June, Heck publicly promised an “all hands on deck, all the time” effort to get a winning vote in the House to save the Export-Import Bank.

On October 9, more than 40 Republicans joined 179 Democrats in signing a discharge petition to bring legislation to the House floor to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank, marking the first successful discharge petition since 2002.

On October 27, in a bipartisan vote of 313-118 and with a historic ‘discharge petition’ maneuver, the House of Representatives successfully passed H.R. 597, the Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act, to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States until 2019.

While H.R. 597 failed to move in the Senate, the same reauthorization text was included in H.R. 22, the DRIVE Act, which passed in the House by a vote of 371 – 54 on November 5.

You may use this link HERE to send a letter to your Members of Congress thanking them for their vote and Governors for their support on the reauthorization of the Export Import Bank .

The Export-Import Bank is the nation’s official export credit agency and a tool that helps companies in Washington state and nationwide sell products overseas and create jobs. Since the bank’s authorization lapsed on June 30, 2015, the bank has been forced to stop its assistance to U.S. exporters -- threatening export deals for more than 100 exporters in Washington state.

In 2014, the Ex-Im Bank supported $27.5 billion in export sales and 164,000 jobs, of which tens of thousands are in Washington state. Small businesses transactions were nearly 90 percent of the total transactions of the Export-Import Bank in 2014.