Governor Jay Inslee (right) talking with INL employees Nathan Greenwood (left) and Shirley Deatherage (center)
On March 27, 2013 The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. attended the 3rd Annual Aerospace Day hosted by the Aerospace Futures Alliance (AFA) in Olympia, WA. Employees Nathan Greenwood and Shirley Deatherage from our manufacturing department joined government relations staff to attend a day of advocacy on behalf of the aerospace industry in Washington State.
It was an exciting day! We had the opportunity to listen to speakers from The Boeing Company, about their growth and recent challenges, as well as from both House and Senate leadership on their efforts to support aerospace growth while managing state budget restrictions. Our employees also got a chance to hear from and meet Governor Jay Inslee that afternoon.
Lighthouse employees also joined a group of aerospace suppliers and trainers in a meeting with Senator Fain from the 47th district to discuss critical issues that have been identified by AFA members.
Those issues included Senate Bill 5622 & House Bill 1707, which create aerospace jobs in our state by reducing the tax costs to private non-resident purchasers of large aircraft. Due to our high sales tax, people interested in buying and retrofitting large aircraft are going out of state, primarily to Kansas and Texas. By making those taxes more competitive, owners would be encouraged to buy planes here in Washington and have the retrofitting/re-furnishing work done in-state as well.
Additionally we discussed support of the $1 million in General Fund Appropriation for the Aerospace Student Loan Program and changes recommended by the Washington Aerospace & Advanced Materials Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline Advisory Committee which focus on training for aerospace jobs. They recommend additional employment opportunities in the community and technical college systems, modifications to credentials and certifications, and enhancements to the transitioning process from secondary school to a career and K-12 curriculum enhancements. There was also a push for $10 million to support the expansion of the Renton Training Facility, the key training facility in the central Puget Sound region.
There are two bills related to the high costs of Workers Compensation in our state that are causing many businesses to operate elsewhere. One (ESSB 5127) has to do with lowering age barriers and clarifying the intent of structured settlements for workers compensation. The second issue (ESSB 5128) has to do with expanding the voluntary settlement options currently available to injured workers.
Finally, Senate Bill 5627 & House Bill 1710 identify a fair process to assess personal property taxes paid to the state by intrastate commuter air carriers. Currently, small carriers such as Kenmore Air are accessed in the same way as a large carrier like Alaska Airlines is assessed. The bills recommend replacing the property tax with an excise tax, similar to a land-based carrier such as Victoria Clipper.
These issues are very important to the future of the Aerospace Industry and our role in aerospace parts production and contracts at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. For more information, contact Paula Hoffman, Vice President of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-436-2113.