Kent chamber announces its legislative priorities
By BRIAN BECKLEY
Kent Reporter General assignment reporter
January 22, 2010 · 11:31 AM
With the 2010 legislative session under way in Olympia, the Kent Chamber of Commerce has released its priorities for this session.
According to Executive Director Andrea Keikkala, the top priority for the chamber this session deal with the potential for flooding throughout the Green River Valley.
In an e-mail about the priorities, Keikkala wrote that the chamber and its members are “extremely concerned” about Howard Hanson Dam and the risk of flooding.
“We urge the Washington State Legislature to support expedient repairs of the Howard Hanson Dam as well as supporting funding to repair levees along the Green River Valley to protect crucial business & trade infrastructure of the State of Washington,” she wrote.
Keikkala also wrote that the chamber is promoting legislation and policies for post-disaster, such as supporting waivers in the permitting process to rebuild in existing footprints to expedite business recovery.
In addition, the chamber also supports the joint underwriting legislation championed by local lawmakers such as Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines and Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines. The legislation would create a government-organized non-profit insurance that could force insurance companies to provide insurance for businesses in the flood zone.
Along with the JUA legislation, which the chamber supported with a letter to lawmakers as well, the rest of the priorities fall under the chamber’s “C.O.M.P.E.T.E.” acronym, which stands for community development, offering incentive, not additional regulation, maintain healthcare change, performance, education, transportation, and economic development and energy.
Keikkala said the goal of the chamber’s agenda is to “be the voice of business for Kent and protect businesses on the local, regional and state levels from legislation that will have an adverse affect on the business climate and quality of life in Kent.”
According to the agenda, the chamber supports a “timely and predictable” permitting process, and also supports policies to streamline and consolidate the permitting processes. The chamber also supports decreased regulations on public projects to put the costs more in line with private projects.
The chamber also advocates for legislation to expand the $1,000 income tax credit exemption to the Streamline Sales Tax for businesses with income up to $3 million, as well as for incentives to encourage businesses to conserve energy.
The chamber also supports a “catastrophic injury” health insurance plan with reduced mandates to allow small businesses to remain more competitive and opposes funding the family Leave bill through new taxes or fees on business.
In the education section, the chamber supports allowing school districts greater flexibility to decide how to allocate state funding based on local needs, as well as fully-funding programs like Running Start and worker retraining programs, as well as supporting the expansion of apprenticeship programs in the state.
In its Transportation section, the chamber supports keeping South King County tax money in the area for local projects, as well as supporting programs to reduce congestion.
The chamber also opposes taxes and fees that “inhibit the growth and retention of business and private sector jobs.”
The priorities are designed to act as guidelines for when legislation is created.
“All of our priorities are Kent specific for the business community,” Keikkala wrote. “The legislative priorities are a guideline that we use when evaluating legislation that comes before the Legislature and then we take specific stands on certain legislation.”
For more information, visit www.kentchamber.com. The Kent Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs committee meets at noon on the second Tuesday of the month at the Kent Chamber of Commerce office located at 524 W. Meeker, Suite 1.Contact Kent Reporter General assignment reporter Brian Beckley at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5054.