Rep. Pike’s Business Kitchen Cabinet exchanges ideas for legislation to improve state’s economy
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Rep. Pike's Business Kitchen Cabinet exchanges ideas for legislation to improve state's economy
Reforming the state's prevailing wage laws, reducing workers' compensation costs, creating additional apprenticeship opportunities, and making government more responsive to the people it serves – those are some of the proposals discussed during a recent meeting of Rep. Liz Pike's Business Kitchen Cabinet.
Pike originally created the cabinet group in August 2013 to receive input from local business leaders about the direction Washington should take to improve its economy and increase private-sector jobs. This year, 10 business owners and employers from the Clark County/Greater Vancouver area are serving on the committee.
“The best ideas come from employers on the front lines who actually deal with regulations on a day-to-day basis, sign paychecks and try to keep their doors open in the wake of the challenges they face,” said Pike, R-Camas. “Their input is valuable as we look for ways to make Washington more business friendly and competitive in a world marketplace.”
One of the primary concerns voiced during the meeting was what Pike calls “an inequity within the state's prevailing wage laws.”
“One of our local employers operates a metal fabrication shop. He told us that state law requires him to pay prevailing wages of $33 an hour in Clark County for metal fabrication public works projects. In King County, those same workers would be paid $15 an hour. That's a huge disparity,” said Pike.
“We discovered some wage requirements set by the state are more than double for Vancouver as compared to Seattle. This local employer won't bid on public works projects because he can't compete against companies in other parts of Washington that can do the same job for less. As a result, he's watched his company shrink from 120 workers to about 40 today,” added Pike. “We are losing work opportunities in Southwest Washington to other parts of the state, largely because the excessively high prevailing wage rates will not allow us to retain those jobs. We need to reduce the cost of doing business and bring those jobs back to Clark County. I am researching ideas that would provide parity for employers who write the paychecks and workers who receive them.”
Cabinet members also voiced concerns over Washington's workers' compensation costs, which at more than $855 per covered worker, is the highest rate in the nation.
“Washington is only one of four states that does not allow private workers' compensation insurance. The other states have recognized that private insurance can be offered more competitively and with a better product,” said Pike. “Our local business owners believe the Legislature should adopt reforms that would open the industrial insurance marketplace to private-sector insurers. They say competition would drive costs down, save money that could be used to create more jobs, and reduce fraud.”
Pike, who was recently awarded the 2014 Guardian of Small Business Award by the National Federation of Independent Business of Washington for her perfect, 100 percent, pro-small business voting record, said one of her top priorities is fostering job creation in Washington state.
“As a longtime business owner and organic farmer, I believe in free market solutions. The groundwork for a stronger economy and more jobs begins with limiting government intervention in private business,” noted Pike. “I'm seeking legislative solutions that would expand opportunities without expanding government. I greatly appreciate ideas by the Business Kitchen Cabinet, which brings a wealth of job creation experience to the table and can show us the right direction to get Washington working again.”
Pike also recently announced the formation of her 2014 Education Kitchen Cabinet, made up of educators and school administrators in Clark County. The first meeting of that group will be held July 16 in Camas.
###Washington State House Republican Communications