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Morning update: Day 10

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 18, 2012 at 7:00 am |
January 17, 2012 5:53 pm

Association of Washington Business members will be at the Capitol Campus this morning lobbying lawmakers.

Among other advocacy, they will be backing a state takeover of local business tax collection, which Gov. Chris Gregoire has proposed and which won applause as Gregoire spoke Tuesday at an AWB summit.

“I desperately need your help” on the tax streamlining bill, Gregoire told AWB members.

Gregoire wants the state to collect both state and local business and occupations tax, allowing one-stop shopping for businesses. Sen. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Reuven Carlyle have introduced her bill and it has bipartisan backing, but the five cities that levy the vast majority of local business taxes in the state — Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett and Bellingham — are pushing back. Gregoire said they’re fighting it “tooth and nail.”

The governor said that’s misguided because it won’t cost them money. Tacoma’s lobbyist, Randy Lewis, begs to differ. He says the change would reduce the city’s ability to target out-of-city companies that do business in Tacoma, because the state has a different system for apportioning tax responsibility. And he said state audits won’t catch all the missed taxes the cities catch.

Lewis also said the five cities have spent about $150,000 so far planning for a potential $6 million merger of their collection systems, with a goal of allowing businesses to file simultaneously in all five cities by 2013.

Also at the Capitol today:

  • A bill that would open the door to charter schools will have its first public hearing this morning.
  • So will a bill that returns to the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries, creating a new regulation scheme for the medical pot shops. The Times’ Jonathan Martin has a rundown.
  • Staying on the same topic, there’s a public hearing on a bill to exempt medical marijuana patients from being prosecuted for impaired driving based on having the drug in their system.
  • Then there’s a public hearing on House Bill 2349 — on the relocation and management of nuisance beavers.
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