Lawmakers focus on smaller players in aerospace industry

BELLEVUE — Washington’s efforts to keep the Boeing Co. happy and convince it to build its next generation of jetliner in Everett are well known.

But what are the state’s leaders doing to help the rest of the industry prosper?

“Somebody needs to speak for the aerospace industry and all of the smaller players,” J.C. Hall of Esterline Technologies Corp. of Bellevue told lawmakers at a roundtable Tuesday hosted by the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance. The event was held at the Red Lion in Bellevue.

Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, along with Reps. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, and Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, took part in the discussion centering on what lawmakers accomplished for aerospace firms this year and what they might pursue in 2014.

Each said they understand aerospace in Washington is more than one firm.

“There is an enormous sector beyond Boeing,” Springer said. “Everything we do in the aerospace industry can’t be Boeing-centric.”

Nonetheless, what’s good for the giant is generally good for everyone else it seemed from the conversation.

Increased state funding for higher education and workforce development programs plus funding for a revolving loan program for aerospace training will pay dividends for everyone, they said.

They also cited a tax exemption for refurbishing privately owned planes as an important achievement this year. It will benefit companies specializing in maintenance, repair and overhaul like Everett’s Aviation Technical Services.

One thing lawmakers didn’t do this year was approve a multibillion-dollar transportation package that the PNAA and its members consider vitally important.

Gov. Jay Inslee has said he’d call a special session in November or December if House and Senate leaders had a deal to vote on. When asked Tuesday, all three lawmakers said they don’t expect any agreement before the 2014 session.

“I don’t think there are votes right now to pass a transportation plan with a gas tax increase,” Chandler said. “I’m very skeptical of having a special session.”

Looking ahead, all three said they’d like to make another run in 2014 at reforming the state workers compensation system to allow more injured workers to resolve their claims through a structured settlement.

Under current law, such settlements — often lump sum payouts in lieu of years of benefit checks — are available now for injured workers older than 55 and the age will drop to 50 by 2016. Attempts to push the age down to 40 failed this year.

Scott Hamilton, an analyst for Issaquah-based Leeham Co., struck a nerve when he asked if it was time for Washington to adopt a right-to-work law. He contended it’s helped South Carolina lower its labor costs and gain a competitive edge on Washington in wooing Boeing.

Springer and Shin rejected the idea.

Springer said he believes the cost of labor is only one of the factors Boeing officials consider in deciding where to build plans. Another is the state’s permitting and environmental laws and whether there are enough skilled workers.

Chandler endorsed the idea but said it’s not worth the fight in Washington.

“I think it would be a mistake for my colleagues to try to use a short-term political situation to promote a policy that may not be effective,” he said.

Another point of contention for the industry has been the rate of fish consumption used to set water quality standards. The state Department of Ecology may hike the rate which in turn could lead to tighter restrictions on pollutants discharged in water by industrial facilities like Boeing’s factories in Everett and Renton.

Chandler said he’s concerned technology doesn’t exist yet to clean water well enough to meet the standards the state may set.

Springer suggested lawmakers steer clear and let the department try to work out an agreement amenable to all the interested parties. In the end, any new rules must account for different fish-eating habits in the state, he said.

“One size fits all will not work in Washington,” he said, “and it will never get through the Legislature.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, March 11, 2019, rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The number of deaths in major air crashes around the globe fell by more than half in 2019 according to a report released Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020, by the aviation consultancy To70, revealing the worst crash for the year was an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX on March 10 that lost 157 lives. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, FILE)
Former Boeing test pilot pleads not guilty in 737 Max case

He’s the first person to be charged with a crime in connection with the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes.

Top (L-R): Kim Daughtry, Steve Ewing. Bottom (L-R): Gary Petershagen, Marcus Tageant.
Developers court Lake Stevens council incumbents with over $20K

Over half of the campaign dollars for four candidates came from people tied to real estate or property development.

An Alaska Airline plane lands at Paine Field Saturday on January 23, 2021. (Kevin Clark/The Herald)
Alaska Airlines stalls plan for extra flights in Everett

Business has been sluggish, but the airline says it will offer 13 flights a day at Paine Field in the new year.

Mukilteo asks for input on housing density, and it’s complicated

Here’s a guide to what voters should know about the advisory ballot measure. What does it actually do?

People hold signs in protest of the vaccine mandate after Boeing announced it would terminate workers who do not comply on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Some Boeing workers protest in Everett over vaccine mandate

The Boeing Company announced earlier this week that its workers must be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

FILE - In this March 14, 2019 file photo, Ethiopian relatives of crash victims mourn at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south-east of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. Relatives of some of the passengers who died in the crash will mark the two-year anniversary of the disaster on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, by seeking a reversal of government orders that let Boeing 737 Max jets fly again.  (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File)
Boeing pilot involved in Max testing is indicted in Texas

He’s accused of giving the FAA false information about systems that played a role in two deadly crashes.

Traffic drives in view of a massive Boeing Co. production plant, where images of jets decorate the hangar doors, Friday, April 23, 2021, in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Boeing says workers must get the COVID vaccine by Dec. 8

“Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment,” says an internal company presentation.

The Boeing 737 Max 10 airplane landing at Boeing Field in Seattle on June 18. (Chona Kasinger / Bloomberg)
Boeing ramps up 737 Max but 787 deliveries are still blocked

Boeing last month maintained its steady trickle of sales as it navigates the aviation downturn.

A handful of Northwest Union Carpenter members picket in front of the new Marysville civic center construction site on the sixth day of a region wide union carpenter strike on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Carpenters strike ends with new contract and a $10 raise

Roughly 500 union members were working on projects in Snohomish County. It was among the largest strikes in 18 years.

FILE - In this March 20, 2020, file photo, the Amazon campus outside the company headquarters in Seattle sits nearly deserted on an otherwise sunny and warm afternoon. Amazon said Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely, as long as they can commute to the office when necessary. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Amazon to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely

Although most cannot work remotely because their duties include grabbing orders and delivering them.

With new owners demanding the Grand Apartments' longtime residents leave, Stephen Teixeira, 52, documents issues at the Rockefeller Avenue building, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Life at the Grand Apartments in Everett is now a ‘nightmare’

Longtime residents say the new owner, an investment company, is trying to bully them out of the building.

Bob Martin, 80, owner of the The Stag Barber and Styling in Snohomish. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
$90,000 fine doesn’t stop defiant Snohomish barber

Bob Martin appealed a state penalty for ignoring coronavirus rules and lost. It has not cut into his business.