Our Legislature Talks Marijuana, But That’s All (Sigh)

Courtesy of Chuck Coker

Courtesy of Chuck Coker

This was supposed to be the year that the Legislature finally sorted out the absurdity of having a highly-regulated recreational marijuana market alongside an unregulated medical marijuana market. It didn’t happen. No bills dealing with the many marijuana issues before the Legislature passed, in spite of lots of effort by local government officials and lobbyists, and encouragement from the governor.

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Blitzkrieg-Style Community Assistance Teams Help Build Consensus and Generate Energy

Sue's blog photoWhat’s a community to do when faced with a difficult, multi-faceted issue that has stymied the community, perhaps for years? It may be a question about how to best renew a downtown core area, redevelop a key corridor with aging retail strips, or stem the loss of viable agricultural land. Everyone agrees that it’s time to do something, and they may even agree on many goals. But your community just hasn’t been able to get traction and build consensus on what needs to be done. To compound the problem, local governments have limited discretionary funds to address the problem.

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Can Local Governments Pass on Credit Card Fees to Customers?

Courtesy of PT Money (ptmoney.com)

Courtesy of PT Money (ptmoney.com)

As a result of a 2013 settlement agreement in a federal district court anti-trust case in New York State, yes, they can. Many local governments have long allowed people to pay fees and charges by credit card, and no Washington State law prohibits them from passing on to customers the fees that credit card companies charge for the use of their services (“interchange fees”). However, the major credit card companies (Visa and MasterCard) would not allow it for certain transactions. But, as a result of this settlement, those credit card companies now allow “merchants,” including local governments, to impose that surcharge on these transactions, as long as certain requirements are followed. Continue reading

Posted in Finance, Legal | 2 Comments

Made in Washington: Encouraging Local Industries

Maker space

MAKERS Co-working Space in Downtown Seattle. Courtesy of Will Foster.

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. is still the top manufacturing nation in the world. And there is renewed interest here in local industries, driven by the rising costs of doing business in China, global fuel costs, the appeal of customized, local products, and just-in-time delivery of goods. Continue reading

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Overtime 101

What is overtime?

Both federal and state law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Washington State Minimum Wage Act, require payment of overtime to nonexempt employees for the time they work over 40 hours during a work week. (When the two laws differ, the employer must comply with the law that is more generous to employees.) Overtime pay is at the rate of not less than one and one-half times the employee’s regular pay rate. That’s the general rule; there are some situations that might require a different result, as I discuss below. Continue reading

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Chameleon Contractors

I recently received a research request involving a contractor who was operating under several names, which in itself is not a bad thing, but in this instance at least one of those “aliases” was an obvious attempt to cover up a bad reputation as another company.  MRSC and the agency’s attorney had discussions about how to develop supplemental bidder responsibility criteria to address this issue.  Continue reading

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