Business, Technology & Financial Services

It can wait

August 6, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

It can wait

Texting while driving is dangerous. In fact, whatever you do in the car other than driving takes away from what’s happening on the road, and it can have devastating consequences. In 2011 390,000 people in the U.S. were killed or injured in an accident caused by distracted driving. So what can we do to make the roads safer? One big way is to limit phone distraction in the car. Lawmakers and law enforcement recognize this and, all but two states, … Continue reading

STEM grads finding varied job prospects

July 30, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

STEM grads finding varied job prospects

A report released earlier this month by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that only about a quarter of recent STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates wind up working in STEM jobs. Obviously, educators, legislators, and employers themselves ought to stop all this cheerleading for STEM courses and focus instead on more high-demand fields. Right? Not so fast. Like most things that appear simple on the surface, this bears a little additional scrutiny. It turns out that, yes, the headline … Continue reading

Does raising the minimum wage actually increase jobs?

July 10, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Does raising the minimum wage actually increase jobs?

For decades, some have argued that it’s an economic law: if you raise wages, jobs are reduced. But evidence is coming in showing that raising the minimum wage actually boosts state economies compared to states that don’t raise it. Instead of a zero-sum game, where somebody has to lose if somebody else wins, new thinking and new evidence shows that boosting the spending power of low-wage workers helps lift the entire economy of a state. Washington state has the highest … Continue reading

Rep. Morris’ attempt to protect personal privacy from airborne voyeurs making news — again

June 24, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Rep. Morris’ attempt to protect personal privacy from airborne voyeurs making news — again

Last February, the House gave an overwhelmingly bipartisan thumbs-up to Rep. Jeff Morris‘ HB 2178, a bill that would have made it a crime to invade an individual’s presumably private space with camera-equipped airborne drones.  Buoyed by that 92-6 House vote and widespread public support, the bill sailed over to the Republican-controlled Senate for consideration . . . and like so many other House bills, became a victim of that chamber’s inaction. Fast-forward a few months, and HB 2178 is … Continue reading

Washington among top five ‘most adaptable’ economies

June 24, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Washington among top five ‘most adaptable’ economies

A new study conducted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation names Washington state the fourth most adaptable economy in the nation. That is good news as long as the trend towards a more information- and technology based-economy persists. The Foundation’s report focused on 25 different factors in their analysis, split into five broad categories: the availability of “knowledge jobs,” how globalized the state is, their economic dynamism, their embrace of the digital economy, and their ability to develop and … Continue reading

Drones, drones, everywhere….or at least in a few places

June 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Drones, drones, everywhere….or at least in a few places

Although 36 states introduced legislation to define and regulate drones in 2014, only three states were able to enact those bills into law. Washington was not one of them. Many states feel compelled to act because the federal government has yet to pass comprehensive legislation regulating drones. And technology isn’t slowing down – if anything it’s speeding up! Drone technology is opening many doors – for law enforcement, for government and for the private sector. Opposing arguments to drones lie … Continue reading

How important is the tech industry in Washington?

May 21, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

How important is the tech industry in Washington?

It supports 42 percent of our state’s workforce, so it’s pretty safe to assert that the tech industry in Washington is nothing short of vital. That’s what Geek Wire, a technology news site based in Seattle, reported after Monday’s Technology Alliance’s annual State of Technology Luncheon, the premier annual gathering for Washington’s innovation community, which had more than 700 people in attendance this year. According to the TA’s findings presented at the event: In 2013 more than 460,000 people were … Continue reading

Nation’s venture capitalists like what they see in Washington

April 29, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Nation’s venture capitalists like what they see in Washington

Once again putting the lie to the worn-out talking point that Washington’s business climate is less than friendly, the nation’s venture capitalists poured more than $170 million into startups in the Evergreen State during the first three months of this year. That’s almost twice the amount brought in during the same period in 2013, and brings to a cool $1.1 billion the total VC investments in new Washington businesses in the last five quarters.  Software and biotech companies continue to … Continue reading

Government: Enemy of innovation? Maybe not…..

April 28, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Government: Enemy of innovation? Maybe not…..

There’s no doubt that our robust, free-market economy has spurred a tremendous amount of private-sector innovation in technology, productivity and many other areas that has improved our quality of life and contributed to our nation’s prosperity. But, despite the claims of some critics, it turns out that the government also has played a critical role in fostering cutting-edge advances in the economy, including some of the most far-reaching and influential. That under-appreciated history is discussed in a recent consideration of … Continue reading

Who says government can’t be efficient?

March 26, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Who says government can’t be efficient?

At the beginning of December, Rep. Larry Springer got an e-mail from John Bagge, a Kirkland resident and fellow small business owner. John owns a catering company called Twelve Baskets. He caters weddings, bar mitzvahs, and business events, sometimes two or three days long. And John had a problem. Under state law, John could serve alcohol at catering events, but not provide it. He had to contract with someone else to provide all the alcohol. This was a pain for … Continue reading

House passes bipartisan bill on the use of drones

February 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

House passes bipartisan bill on the use of drones

Last evening, in a 83-15 vote, the House passed HB 2789, which provides a framework for the public use of drones, defined in the bill as “extraordinary sensing devices” (ESDs). Rep. Roger Goodman, Chair of the House Public Safety Committee and sponsor of the bill, steered the bill to enactment and spoke on its passage, “We are being watched, and we know it,” he said. “There are cameras affixed to buildings, streets, parking lots.  We don’t have a complete expectation … Continue reading

State one step closer to accepting public works bids electronically

February 17, 2014 - Rep. Monica Stonier

State one step closer to accepting public works bids electronically

The House passed legislation today to integrate technology in the bidding process for state work. “This bill is an effort to make sure doing business in Washington is more efficient and less costly,” Stonier said. “If we can pay our bills online, we can make it easier for businesses to submit their bids by allowing them to do so electronically.” Sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), House Bill 1841 will allow state agencies authorized to conduct competitive bidding public works … Continue reading

AP: Bill would guarantee vacations with pay

February 2, 2014 - Rep. Gael Tarleton

AP: Bill would guarantee vacations with pay

By Lisa Baumann, Associated Press OLYMPIA — Workers in Washington could be the first in the nation to be guaranteed paid vacation time under legislation being considered by state lawmakers. Democratic Rep. Gael Tarleton of Seattle, the prime sponsor of House Bill 2238, said the measure would require public and private employers with 25 or more employees to provide vacation leave for those who work 20 hours or more per week. It’s the first bill of its kind to be … Continue reading

Rep. Springer is open for the people’s business!

January 14, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Rep. Springer is open for the people’s business!

Yesterday, the 2014 legislative session began.  Today, Rep. Springer held his first business stakeholder meeting of the session! Each week, Rep. Springer brings together a wide variety of stakeholders, from the grocer’s association, to the agriculture community to the health insurance industry.  It is an informal, conversational, open forum.  Advocates bring their questions, comments and concerns. He, and other members of the caucus listen and respond to their questions. The Representatives love it because they don’t need to schedule 25 … Continue reading

Washington rules in innovation!

January 2, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Washington rules in innovation!

Washington is one of the ten best states for women, the 14th healthiest state, the 4th state in GDP growth, 6th in economic performance, the top-rated state economy, the 6th most business-friendly state, the state with the 3rd-lowest number of workplace fatalities, and the top state in software publishing jobs, just to name a few of our high marks. While we are not particularly surprised that Bloomberg recently ranked our state the most innovative in the nation, we sure are … Continue reading

Washington wine: No. 2 — with a bullet!

November 27, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Washington wine: No. 2 — with a bullet!

When it comes to wine, California is a Gulliver among the Lilliputians, producing far more than any other state. But Washington is No. 2 in premium-wine production, and growing fast. The 2013 harvest in Washington’s vineyards set a record, and represented a 16 percent increase above the state’s previous record, established the year before. Growers are planting ever-increasing acres to wine grapes. A 2012 report prepared for the Washington State Wine Commission pegged the industry’s statewide economic impact in 2009 … Continue reading

Hudgins: Washington state must innovate while investing in tech

November 12, 2013 - Rep. Zack Hudgins

How much do taxpayers spend on computers and technology? The answer is hidden in line items throughout the state budget—and it may surprise you. “About two billion dollars,” said Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government. “That’s how much we estimate we spend on information technology and computers. So it’s important that we do it right.” Hudgins has a background in the tech business from working for Amazon.com and at Microsoft, and he says … Continue reading

New tech will combat texting while driving

November 12, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Washington state has always worked to make our roadways more safe. We were early adopters of seat belt laws, drunk driving laws, and more recently, graduated drivers licensing. We were also early adopters of bans on texting while driving. While the goals of such laws are to reduce traffic collisions and make our roads safer, laws alone can’t solve the entire problem. Parents teaching and modeling good behavior is key. Proper education in traffic safety courses is also important. And … Continue reading

640,000 students in L.A. to get free iPads instead of text books

September 6, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

640,000 students in L.A. to get free iPads instead of text books

The nation’s second-largest school district announced plans to issue free iPads next year to the 640,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The $1 billion effort is in response to the growing and expensive problem of outdated textbooks. Each iPad will be pre-loaded with educational software and digital, which can be easily updated with new information as needed. From EducationNews.org: As part of the project, the school district will buy digital textbooks for the iPads through an arrangement … Continue reading

After reforms, payday lending is down

August 27, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

After reforms, payday lending is down

Reforms to the payday lending business have changed things dramatically, according to a new report from the state Department of Financial Institutions. The 36 percent cap on yearly interest rates to military members has virtually eliminated loans to G.I.’s, who also have trouble getting security clearances if they’re in debt to payday lenders. The total payday lending business in Washington state went from a high of nearly $1.4 billion in 2005 to $343 million in 2012. In 2012, a total … Continue reading

Seattle Times op-ed on internet sales taxes misses the mark

August 19, 2013 - Rep. Ross Hunter

Seattle Times op-ed on internet sales taxes misses the mark

In a Seattle Times Op-Ed today, Peter Ollodart throws up his hands at the prospect of filing sales tax returns in 45 states, and consequently is lobbying against the Marketplace Fairness Act if Congress. If he really had to do that, I’d agree with him. Of course, under the structure of the bill in Congress he won’t have to. All versions of the bill require that the states pay for software services that would be available free to the business … Continue reading

Wylie to work on helping businesses with financing options

July 22, 2013 - Rep. Sharon Wylie

Wylie to work on helping businesses with financing options

Speaker of the House Frank Chopp recently appointed Rep. Sharon Wylie to the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority (WEDFA), an independent agency within the executive branch of state government. WEDFA, which was created by the legislature and started operations in 1996, finances qualifying projects, mainly in the manufacturing, processing and waste disposal sectors, through “non-recourse” low interest loans and bonds that reduce the borrowing costs for the businesses. “I am pleased to become more involved in ensuring our state supports … Continue reading

Oops, we did it again

July 18, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Oops, we did it again

Well, it happened again. As often as our critics try to label our caucus policies as “job killers” and bad for small business, yet ANOTHER publication has given Washington some pretty good praise on the business front. Entrepreneur.com recently ranked Seattle as the #2 startup city in America based on several factors like median tech wages, taxes, and housing costs. Austin, Texas took the top spot while Seattle beat out large players like San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Washington, … Continue reading

Washington a national leader in workplace safety

May 8, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Washington a national leader in workplace safety

We know we live in an outstanding state. It seems that not a week goes by without a new study, survey, ranking or analysis that says Washington is number one for this, or in the top five for that. Despite the constant whining from some quarters that Washingtonians are heavily taxed, for example, numerous organizations and think tanks – some extremely conservative – place us at the other end of the spectrum by actually looking at the facts. And despite … Continue reading

Cheaters who rig the system must be punished

February 14, 2013 - Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos

Cheaters who rig the system must be punished

The Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) is responsible for administering a federal program designed to level the playing field for disadvantaged businesses. Unfortunately, some companies are abusing the program. Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos of Seattle introduced legislation – HB 1674 – that would give the OMWBE the direct authority to investigate and punish those who commit fraud. Fraudulent contractors not only steal from taxpayers, but they also hurt all of the other small businesses who work hard … Continue reading

Riccelli wants taxpayers to know where their money goes

February 7, 2013 - Rep. Marcus Riccelli

Riccelli wants taxpayers to know where their money goes

Each year, millions of dollars flow from state coffers to fund capital and transportation projects in every single county.  These projects create jobs while improving the infrastructure of Washington’s communities.  But these public investments aren’t always easily visible to the public, and one legislator is seeking to change that. Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D – Spokane), has introduced legislation to increase transparency for taxpayers and ensure government accountability in how state dollars are spent.  His bill, HB 1733, would increase the … Continue reading

Let’s get to work

February 4, 2013 - mcvicara

Let’s get to work

Friends and neighbors, Today begins the fourth week in Olympia as your legislator from the 36th District! First there was the swearing-in ceremony on January 14th. Then we went right to work in our committees. I’m serving on Higher Education, Rules, Transportation, and Technology and Economic Development. Last week I took my first votes to move bills out of committees. The schedule is demanding… and it needs to be. We’re trying to fulfill our constitutional duty to amply provide for … Continue reading

Six STEM Lighthouse Schools and One District receive funds

January 24, 2013 - nietol

Six STEM Lighthouse Schools and One District receive funds

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced today that six schools and an entire school district were awarded $19,000 in grants and will serve as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) mentors to other schools in the state.  Known as “Lighthouse” schools, the seven entities will promote and develop STEM education, including technical assistance and advice for other elementary, middle and high schools that are creating their own STEM environments.  STEM Lighthouse schools originated in 2010 with the … Continue reading

Lawmaker puts emphasis on continuing education for engineers

January 23, 2013 - waldrefj

Keeping up with the latest advances in one’s field simply makes excellent common sense, especially in fields packing a potentially huge impact on public health, safety and peace of mind. State Rep. Derek Stanford maintains that licensed engineers should continue learning just like other professionals who are licensed by the state, such as architects and land surveyors. “Continuing professional development is a basic and very important requirement for many professions,” Stanford emphasized. The Bothell legislator is prime-sponsoring House Bill 1231, … Continue reading

Rep. Habib to help lead key technology committee

January 15, 2013 - robertsg

First-term legislator Cyrus Habib, who was sworn in Monday with other House members, will help direct state efforts to boost prosperity in the 21st century as vice chair of the House Technology and Economic Development Committee. “We must encourage and incentivize economic development in the 48th District and throughout the state,” Habib said. “We need to develop a talented and skilled workforce, top-flight infrastructure and a supportive business environment. I will draw on my experience with high-tech businesses to make … Continue reading

Ryu elected vice chair of Business and Financial Services

December 14, 2012 - nietol

Ryu elected vice chair of Business and Financial Services

Rep. Cindy Ryu returns to the House of Representative to serve her second term, but this time with more responsibilities on her plate. Earlier this week, Ryu’s peers elected her as vice chair of the Business and Financial Services Committee, which considers licensing and regulation of businesses and professions, issues relating to insurance, banks and credit unions, as well as consumer protection issues relating to motor vehicles, financial services, and insurance. “I am excited to assist Chair Kirby in considering … Continue reading

Morris to oversee technology and economic development initiatives in House

December 10, 2012 - robertsg

Rep. Jeff Morris of Mount Vernon will play a key role in efforts to boost prosperity in Washington in the 21st century as chair of the newly formed House Technology and Economic Development Committee. Morris is a longtime leader in the field of “green”technology and entrepreneurship. He recently was named  by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to an intergovernmental advisory committee. The Technology and Economic Development Committee will consider issues relating to technology and electronic communications, small-business assistance, business financing, international trade and … Continue reading

Kirby returns to leadership of House business committee

December 10, 2012 - robertsg

Rep. Steve Kirby of Tacoma once again will chair the House Business & Financial Services Committee in the 2013 Legislature. The committee plays a lead role in protecting consumers from fraud and abuse. It considers the licensing and regulation of businesses and professions (excluding health care and the law) and legislation relating to insurance. It regulates consumer credit, lending, securities and investments and the soundness of banks and credit unions. The committee handles consumer issues regarding insurance and financial services and also … Continue reading

Car sharing saves money and time — while creating jobs

June 25, 2012 - bergstromg

by Zack Hudgins and Barbara Bailey Most cars sit idle 23 hours a day. But there’s a new business model that lets people rent cars and trucks from private citizens. Peer-to-peer car sharing is one of those solid policies that Democrats and Republicans alike can agree on.  This innovative way of bringing new business into our state will reduce pressure on our transportation system and put more money back into your own pocket. Many neighbors and family members borrow things … Continue reading

Rep. Morris: Washington White Board – Cell phone texting rates and regulations

February 22, 2012 - mcvicara

Rep. Liias Washington White Board – Are consumers being gouged with texting rates?

January 12, 2012 - mcvicara