Legislative Forum & Reception Recap

At GSI’s recent Annual Legislative Forum and Reception, our Public Policy Council Co-Chair, Tom Reese, presented the 2015 State Legislative Priority Agenda, our state lobbyist, Jim Hedrick, facilitated a thoughtful dialogue among the panelists, and everyone enjoyed the networking opportunities at the reception. The conversations that took center stage during the forum revolved around education, transportation, and medical education. The legislators who participated on the panel indicated that education would undoubtedly be a top issue this session due to the McCleary decision and the passage of Initiative 1351, but there were still some clear distinctions in opinion. Senator Baumgartner emphasized the Continue reading

Grow America Act Introduced: How Does Spokane Fit In?

Washington D.C. – On Tuesday, the Department of Transportation introduced the Grow America Act, which calls for $302 billion to be spent over four years on transportation projects across the nation. Sam Brown, the Director of the White House Business Council, told the 46-person Spokane delegation that the money would be raised through corporate tax reform. How do the transportation needs of our region fit in the funding model? The Spokane delegation also met with Victor Mendez, the Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation. The delegation presented to Mendez the transportation projects and needs in our region. Completing the North Spokane Continue reading

Greater Spokane Incorporated Heads to Washington D.C.

It’s that time of year again – the time when GSI leads a large delegation of business, community and education leaders to Washington D.C. to advocate on behalf of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. This year, we’ll bring 46 folks to our nation’s capital for meetings with our federal delegation from Washington and Idaho, Air Force officials at the Pentagon, and many others. The main topics this year include transportation, health care, higher education, economic development, STEM education, Fairchild Air Force Base and the federal budget. So why do we go to D.C. every year? Simple: to keep the greater Continue reading

Looking Back at the 2014 State Legislative Session

At the outset of the 2014 Session, our state legislators faced a difficult situation at best. The 2012 McCleary v. State of Washington decision ruled that the State had not been meeting its constitutional obligation to education and mandated an increase in education standards by 2018. The only way to achieve this goal was by increasing funding for education-related operating costs to a level of education spending Washington State has never seen . At the same time, state tax revenue had not risen to pre-recession levels. The State of Washington operates on a two-year budget cycle beginning July 1 of Continue reading

Why a Good Infrastructure is Important for Economic Development

As the state legislature nears the end of its supplemental session in Olympia, the likelihood of an agreed upon transportation package is slim (Edit: there’s no chance). There is still the possibility that the legislature will reconvene sometime this year in a special session to form a transportation package, though. But a recent report from a national transportation research group called TRIP showing deficient roads in our state are costing drivers money should be of interest to legislators across the state. The report – titled Washington State Transportation by the Numbers – estimates that the average Spokane driver loses about Continue reading

What’s Happening in Olympia?

The legislative session is nearing its end in Olympia. Here are three things happening at the State Capitol that are of interest to us and the greater Spokane community: 1. The Future of a Port District in Spokane County On Tuesday, House Bill 2547 passed in the Senate 48-1 after passing 95-2 in the House. The bill allows for the creation of port districts comprising less than entire county areas. We’ve written about the possibility of a Port District in Spokane County before, but let’s rehash: a Port District is a special purpose district with an economic development and transportation Continue reading

Spokane in Olympia Day 1: Transportation and K-12 Education Take Center Stage

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The top two issues facing the Washington State Legislature were the main topics on the first day of Greater Spokane Incorporated’s (GSI) advocacy trip to Olympia on Wednesday. This trip is in conjunction with the Greater Spokane Valley and West Plains chambers of commerce. Eighty-nine area business, education and community leaders arrived in Olympia ready for three days of advocating for the greater Spokane region, and it wasn’t long before the major topics came into focus. Transportation The biggest issue on the legislature’s to-do list is a transportation package. Governor Jay Inslee wanted one last Thanksgiving but Continue reading

GSI Leads Delegation to Olympia

The 2014 Supplemental Session in Olympia began this week, and our annual trip to our state capital begins next week. From Jan. 22 to Jan. 24, we’ll bring 89 area business, education and community leaders to Olympia to advocate on behalf of the greater Spokane region. The decisions made in Olympia impact the greater Spokane business community. Here are some things we’ll be keeping an eye on during our trip and the entire session: Will there be a transportation package? This will be the biggest newsmaker this session. The greater Spokane region is greatly impacted by whatever decision is made, Continue reading

A Spokane Business News Buffet

There’s a lot going on around here. Let’s take a look at some notables: Special Session As we mentioned last week, the state legislature convened for a special session to pass some bills aimed at keeping some incentives available for aerospace companies in the state. Legislators were also tasked with coming up with a transportation package. So what happened? The aerospace bills were passed quite easily, but not a transportation package. Governor Jay Inslee has said he wants a transportation package by the Apple Cup (which is Nov. 29 this year, for you non-football fans). We’re pushing for a number Continue reading

Special Session Begins Today in Olympia – What Does it Mean for Spokane?

Washington Governor Jay Inslee called legislators back to Olympia to begin a special session today to tackle bills that would provide more funding for aerospace education, extend tax incentives for aerospace manufacturers through 2040, and streamline the permitting process for aerospace manufacturers. Inslee also wants the legislature to produce a transportation package during the special session. What does this mean for Spokane? Let’s take it one issue at a time. Aerospace The driver of the aerospace bills is the production of the Boeing 777X. It’s best the production stays in Washington, and passing the proposed bills would help accomplish that. Continue reading