In the runup to the 2020 Legislature,
Gov. Jay Inslee made headlines with a stark warning to the Boeing Co: Build your
next plane in Washington or billions in tax credits could be in jeopardy.
Tax breaks for the aerospace industry
aren’t at the top of Olympia’s agenda —the short, 60-day session that began
Jan. 13 is chiefly focused on a supplemental budget, transportation, gun rights
and addressing homelessnes, among others.
Still, the governor’s warning aims a
light on the aerospace industry and the struggles of its chief denizen, Boeing.
The company is in crisis mode following
the worldwide grounding of the 737 Max 8 fleet. It suspended production of the
plane but has pledged not to lay off workers.
And that has communities around the
state worried about the impact on their economies.
Should the Tri-Cities be worried? Yes,
The industry and its 200 key players
are concentrated in the Puget Sound area with few if any direct employees here,
but is very important to our state.
Aerospace generated an estimated $71
billion and employed 83,400 Washington workers in 2018, according to a 2019
economic impact study commissioned by Aerospace Works for Washington, a
nonprofit advocacy group tied to the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
Indirectly, the industry supports
223,700 jobs and $20.6 billion in wages and $94.4 billion in business revenue
through multiplier effects. The effect is felt statewide.
The legislative session is set to wrap
on March 12. To date, more than 4,000 bills have been introduced.
Here’s a look at some of the
business-oriented ones that attracted the attention of Tri-City lawmakers,
including several hoping to capitalize on the newest branch of the armed
forces, the U.S. Space Force.
Feb. 19 is the last day to pass bills
out of their house of origin. This online version of this story will be updated
to reflect which bills passed the cutoff date.
Rep. Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick, is
backing three bills to promote a “space economy” in Washington.
HJM 4015 asks Congress to site a Space
Academy in Washington. HB 2665 contemplates tax breaks for the industry. And HB
2596 directs the Department of Commerce to study the matter. All were pending
in the House.
“Washington state is home to some of
the brightest minds and most influential visionaries, and we have a tremendous
opportunity to establish ourselves as a national and global leader in the
future of commercial space exploration and development,” said Boehnke, a
retired U.S. Army officer who teaches cybersecurity at Columbia Basin College.
Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick,
introduced SB 5636, which would require the state to evaluate the real-world
impact of bills that increase or decrease state revenue by $10 million. She
first proposed the idea in 2017. It was pending in the Senate.
Nuclear waste repository
Brown introduced SJM 8018 calling on Congress,
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to
develop a permanent federal repository for high-level radioactive waste.
Funding for a waste site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was terminated nearly a
decade ago. It was pending in the Senate.
Brown wants Washington to take the lead
on blockchain technology. SB 6065 would create a work group to examine
applications of technology in computing, financial services, real estate,
health care and public record keeping. It was pending in the Senate.
Death with Dignity
Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla,
introduced HB419, which calls for the University of Washington to study the
barriers rural residents face accessing the Death with Dignity Act. Voters
approved the act allowing state residents with terminal illnesses to request
medication to end their life 10 years ago. It was pending in the House.
SB 5339, which passed in the Senate on
Jan. 31, would abolish the death penalty as a sentencing option. The bill has
bipartisan support. The state Supreme Court ruled the death penalty
unconstitutional in 2018, and Inslee put a moratorium on it four years prior to
that. It passed out of the Senate and was pending in the House.
Degrees behind bars
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, is a
sponsor of HB 2299, which allows the Department of Corrections to implement
post-secondary certificate and degree programs in state prisons. It was pending
in the House.
King County ‘big
HB 2907 authorizes counties with a
population of at least 2 million to impose payroll taxes of 0.1 percent to 0.2
percent on businesses at a graduated rate based on employee compensation. Small
businesses, government and certain industries are exempted from the tax, which
would raise money to support affordable housing and development. The bill
essentially targets large businesses such as Amazon in King County. It was
pending in the House.
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