Senators call for workers’ comp and environmental regulatory reforms to make Washington more attractive to Boeing and all employers

In the wake of the machinists’ union’s rejection of Boeing’s contract offer, Sens. Doug Ericksen and Janéa Holmquist Newbry are calling for action to create a more business-friendly environment in Washington.

“I was very disappointed that the machinists rejected Boeing’s offer, putting in jeopardy the tens of thousands of jobs the state would gain from the 777X program,” said Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake. “Now more than ever, we need to show not just Boeing, but all employers that Washington is serious about making this a state where private sector enterprises, large and small, can thrive.”

Holmquist Newbry has been a long-time advocate for reforming Washington’s expensive workers’ compensation system.

“Washington has the highest industrial-insurance taxes in the U.S.,” said Holmquist Newbry. “It takes twice as long as the national average to return an injured worker to work in this state.  In part, the reason for this delay is because our workers’ compensation system restricts the option of voluntary structured settlements to claimants age 55 and older. We need to open this option up to all workers, regardless of age. Without reform, employers will face a more than $2 billion jump in industrial-insurance taxes in the next nine years. If we are serious about showing employers that Washington is a state that’s open for business, we need to act now.”

“Our state should not be in the position where we are in danger of losing our aerospace industry to South Carolina, Japan or Texas, which Gov. Rick Perry is aggressively promoting as a more business-friendly environment for companies like Boeing,” said Ericksen, R-Ferndale. “We need to take quick action if we care about holding onto this great industry and all the benefits it brings to Washington. The machinists’ contract rejection made our job more difficult, but not impossible. We must keep working to create a regulatory climate that promotes job growth.”

Ericksen, who serves on the 777X legislative taskforce, wants the Legislature to set water quality standards that are based on reality and are not unduly burdensome in restricting the amount of runoff companies are allowed to discharge into waterways.

“The state Department of Ecology is trying to set fish-consumption standards far above the federal standard,” said Ericksen. “This would be the highest rate of fish-consumption in the U.S. It is not realistic and it has big impact on the runoff a company is allowed to discharge. We need to prevent this needless burden on our employers. These water quality regulations are based on federal law, and there is no reason that Washington’s implementation should place us at a competitive disadvantage with other states.

This is vital for all manufacturing jobs in Washington, not just Boeing. We can protect our environment and also remain competitive.”

“In 2003, the Legislature did what no one thought could be done: It reformed the unemployment insurance system,” said Holmquist Newbry. “Ten years later, we can and must reform workers’ compensation and the DOE’s proposed fish-consumption regulations. If we want to send out a positive message about our state to employers, we need a lot fewer words and many more actions like these.”