The GVCC's Public Affairs Committee

    Each month the Chamber's PAC gathers to discuss issues that impact Southwest Washington business. The PAC is a forum where City, State and Federal topics are on the table. The PAC serves in an advisory capacity to the president and the public affairs staff. The committee is responsible for reviewing and recommending actions or positions to the board of directors. The PAC also plays a role in organizing Public Affairs events like: The Legislative Review Luncheon and Legislative Outlook Breakfast. 

    Once a year the GVCC's PAC, the CREDC and the ICC work together to create the Shared Legislative Agenda document that is the strong, unified voice of the top issues that affect local business.  
  • Contacting Your Legislators

    Rep. Monica Stonier

    (360) 786-7872


    Rep. Paul Harris

    (360) 786-7976


    Rep. Lynda Wilson

    (360) 786-7994


    Senator Ann  Rivers

    (360) 786-7634


    Rep. Liz Pike

    (360) 786-7812



    Senator Annette Cleveland

    (360) 786-7696


    Rep. Vicki Kraft

    (360) 786-7994


    Rep. Sharon Wylie

    (360) 786-7924



  • IN THE NEWS...


    Public Afffairs Committee Has Full Plate
    PAC Column in the Nov/Dec "Vancouver VISION Magazine." 

    By: Don Russo (Schwabe Law Offices) and Nina Carlson (Northwest Natural)
    Co-Chairs of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC)

    The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce Public Affairs Committee (PAC) began considering a fairly full plate of topics this fall. Varied issues on our agenda for the coming year include public safety funding, minimum wage, affordable housing, a potential parking rate increase in downtown, and a bond measure to support Vancouver Public Schools.

    At the September PAC meeting, attendees heard from Association of Washington Businesses regarding I-433. This initiative seeks to increase the state minimum wage to $13.50 by year 2020 for those 18 and older, and has a paid sick leave requirement. AWB expressed concerns that I-433’s wage increases have the potential to deter businesses from expanding or investing in our community. Discussions also identified beneficial consequences of a mandate for increased minimum wages, particularly in that they serve as a weapon in the battle for affordable housing.

    The discussion at this PAC meeting also considered Vancouver City Council’s proposal for reviving the B&O tax as a means to backfill the current $10.4 million gap in the Public Safety Fund. PAC members expressed concerns about placing the financial responsibility for this funding gap on the backs of businesses when, historically, businesses have not been the majority source of calls for service from the Vancouver Police Department. Further, B&O tax is routinely levied on gross rather than net profits. The Chamber and four other stakeholder groups are slated to meet with the City to discuss a comprehensive long-term funding plan for public safety as well as other critical City services. 

    Future agenda items that the PAC will be weighing in on include Proposition 1, an additional in-City property tax aimed at creating an Affordable Housing Fund to assist low income Vancouver residents who are facing housing issues; a Vancouver Public Schools bond measure to replace several older school buildings, make improvements at other schools and ease overcrowding, and also I-733. This initiative seeks to levy a direct carbon tax on coal, oil, and natural gas - which claims to be carbon neutral. Many fear that I-733 will drive up energy costs and threaten business interests. Candid conversations on proposed tax increases and other issues provide the PAC with valuable insight into the concerns of and benefits for our membership as we work to inform GVCC leadership on these topics.

    In short, your GVCC Public Affairs Committee continues its work evaluating the impacts of key issues and proposed legislation on our members and local businesses. The PAC is particularly proud of its role last year in providing guidance to the GVCC Board of Directors on the proposed oil terminal at the Port. We look forward to supporting Chamber leadership in navigating the complex and varied issues throughout the coming year. The main objective of GVCC PAC’s work with our legislative and community leaders is to best represent you and your concerns.


    City Looks at Councilmatic Tax Increases to Cover Funding Shortfall - B&O Tax Reinstatement Among List of Options
    PAC Column in the Sept/Oct "Vancouver VISION Magazine." 

    By: LeAnne Bremer of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP
    Chairwoman of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC)

    GVCC’s public affairs committee recently heard a presentation from City of Vancouver staff on projected short falls in the City’s General Fund over the next five years: funding that is critical to support police, park and other public services.  By 2020, the police funding shortfall is estimated to be $10.4 million.  The main sources of revenue for the City—utility, sales and property taxes—are not growing commensurate with the community’s needs.  And supplemental revenue from grants and marijuana sales is not bridging the gap.

    The City is exploring funding mechanisms for this funding gap, including Councilmatic options that do not require a public vote. One option could include a combination of taxes based on retail square footage and multi-family units, as well as increases in the utility tax and a business license surcharge.  Another option would reinstate the local business and occupation tax, which is a tax on the gross receipts measured on the value of products, gross proceeds of sale, or gross income of the business.  The City eliminated its B&O tax as of January 1, 2002, presumably to encourage, and not stifle, business growth.  

    As incremental improvements in the economy continue to occur, with a resurgence of business growth throughout the City, now is not the time to impose taxes that disproportionately impact businesses.  Similarly, a tax on multi-family units, at a time where there is a crisis in affordable housing, may either discourage additional units from being built, or contribute to already rising rents.  

    At an upcoming meeting, the PAC will consider a recommendation to the GVCC Board asking the City to consider other funding mechanisms than the reinstatement of the B&O tax, and a tax on multi-family units.  Funding for necessary public services obviously has to come from somewhere and all options should be explored.  Because some funding mechanisms can be put in place without a vote, this is more reason to make sure that the voices of those that would be affected are heard.  The PAC’s recommendation may include a request for a task force of stakeholders or even a recommendation on specific proposal as determined at an upcoming meeting.  The PAC encourages members to contact the GVCC with input on proposed or alternative funding strategies. 


    AWB starts Statewide "Shout Out, Small Business" Listening Tour in Vancouver 

    The GVCC was the Association for Washington Businesses (AWB) first stop (of 15) on their Small Business Listening Tour. Their goal is to hear face-to-face from communities throughout Washington State on the issues impacting Small Business. The GVCC hosted their first listening session. Small business owners, representation from the City of Vancouver and the Chamber's Board of Directors were in attendance. The top issues: small business compliance regarding employees and independent contractors, permitting, 1-5 corridor, taxes, minimum wage, return to work programs, and carbon emissions.


    Education Funding and Affordable Housing Rise to the Top of Discuss
    PAC Column in the May/June "Vancouver VISION Magazine." 

    By: LeAnne Bremer of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP
    Chairwoman of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC)

    Last December, we attended the Legislative Outlook Breakfast where local legislators answered questions from the audience on current, important policy issues facing the State, and Southwest Washington in particular, such as carbon tax initiatives, a potential, resurrected Columbia River Crossing, the Public Works Trust Fund, and state tourism funding.  The legislators also prognosticated about what we could expect from the then upcoming legislative session.  At the Legislative Review Luncheon co-hosted by the GVCC and the Building Industry Association of Clark County on April 13, 2016, we were able to verify our legislators’ prognoses, and by and large, their predictions were accurate.

    In December, the legislators believed that with a short session (60-day) on the horizon, there would few, if any, significant legislative actions or appropriations.  Then, most legislators believed that the session would be primarily devoted to addressing the Washington Supreme Court’s mandate requiring the legislature to fulfill the constitutional mandate of funding basic education, and during the 2016 session, this was, in fact, a major focus, but there is more work to do next year to come up with an ultimate solution.

    At the luncheon, legislators from the legislative districts of the 17th (Paul Harris and Lynda Wilson), 18th (Liz Pike, Ann Rivers and Brandon Vick), 20th (John Braun) and the 49th (Annette Cleveland and Jim Moeller) also described additional efforts this past session that was extended 20 days in a special session for adoption of a supplemental operating budget. Overall, there were not a lot of new laws, but a majority of the legislators believed that the session was successful with the adoption of a budget and no new taxes, and also believing that despite a divided legislature along party lines, there was bi-partisan cooperation, compromise, good faith solutions, and concerted energy and drive.  Given the short session and specific priorities, bills addressing other topics will be introduced next year, and we received another preview of what to expect.  

    In 2017, we learned that we can expect the legislature to further address how to fund basic education at the state level (and figure out how local property tax levies will be affected); define what basic education is that could include vocational training; revisit regulatory reform and the Growth Management Act amendments as one way to ensure more affordable housing, along with potential tax incentives for developers to provide affordable housing; and generally address job creation, a Columbia River Crossing, homelessness, prescription drug prices, and expanded mental health services.  As with this year, we can use what we learned at the luncheon as a scorecard at the end of the 2017 legislative session to evaluate the results.


    Sales Tax Exemption is Good for Business

    HB2269 proposes the removal of the sales tax exemption for Oregon shoppers when they make purchases within Washington Stores. Shorty's Garden & Home, along with a number of other Southwest Washington businesses will be directly impacted, as it has been reported to the Chamber that upwards of 30% of their retail sales come from Oregon residents.

    On Friday, June 26th KOIN 6 interviewed Kelly Love, the GVCC CEO for a story about the issue. Jeff Gianola (KOIN 6 News Anchor) states in the video, 'I can really see why Vancouver business owners are concerned about this.'

    Kelly Love's experts within the segment & print article:

    “The truth is that Oregonians are as likely to pay Washington sales tax as they are to pump their own gas,” Kelly Love with the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce said. “And Washington’s legislature does not understand that. Businesses in Vancouver and Clark County will be hurt when the legislature strips out the sales tax exemption.”

    According to Love, requiring Oregon residents to pay sales tax in Washington will hurt businesses. She also said she thinks the $60 million in projected revenue won’t materialize, because fewer Oregonians will shop in Washington altogether.



    PAC Co-Chairs

    Don Russo, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt
    700 Washington St., Ste. 701
    Vancouver, WA 98660

    Nina Carlson
    Marketing & Community Affairs
    NW Natural 
    220 NW Second Ave
    Portland, OR 97209


  • Members: 
    Steve Becker 
    Daybreak Youth Services
    404 E 15th 
    Vancouver WA 98663
    (360) 635-4123


    Ben Begherpour
    SEH America Inc    
    4111 NE 112th Ave
    Vancouver WA 98682
    (360) 885-8400

    Carol Bua
    City of Vancouver
    415 West 6th Street
    Vancouver WA 98668
    (360) 487-8600    carol.bua@cityofvancouver.us

    Scott  Burton
    Regence BlueCross BlueShield
    200 SW Market Street
    Portland OR 97201
    (503) 276-1852

    Alistaire Clary
    Maul Foster Alongi
    400 E. Mill Plain Blvd, Suite 400
    Vancouver, WA 98660 aclary@maulfoster.com

    Todd Coleman
    PBS Environmental & Engineering    
    314 W 15th Street
    Vancouver, WA 98660
    (509) 380-8605

    John Deeder
    Evergreen School District #114
    13501 NE 28th St
    Vancouver, WA 98682

    Angel Escobedo
    Leadership Clark County
    400 E Evergreen Blvd  Ste 113
    Vancouver WA 98660
    (360) 567-1085  director@leadershipclarkcounty.com

    Eric Fuller, Eric Fuller & Associates, Inc.
    501 SE Columbia Shores Blvd., Ste. 400
    Vancouver, WA 98661
    (360) 750-5595 efuller@ef-inc.com

    Doug Green 
    Congregation Kol Ami
    7800 NE 119th Street Vancouver WA 98662
    (360) 260-9708 publisher@usernews.com

    Jeff Hamm
    2425 NE 65th Ave.
    Vancouver, WA 98668

    Anne Haller
    Staybridge Suites Vancouver
    7301 NE 41st Street
    Vancouver, WA 98683
    (360) 891-8282  Anne.Haller@ihg.com

    Ryan Hart
    Port of Vancouver USA
    3103 NW Lower River Rd
    Vancouver WA 98660
    (360) 99-1101    rhart@portvanusa.com

    Chato Hazelbaker, Clark College
    1933 Fort Vancouver Way
    Vancouver, WA 98665
    (360) 992-2921 chazelbaker@clark.edu

    Nelson P Holmberg
    Port of Ridgefield
    P.O. Box 55
    Ridgefield, WA    98642
    (360) 887-3873 nholmberg@portridgefield.org

    Steve Horenstein    
    Horenstein Law Group PLLC
    500 Broadway Suite 120
    Vancouver, WA    98660
    (360) 696-4100

    Ben Hoskins
    You Move Me / 1-800-Got-Junk
    4001 Main Street #312
    Vancouver, WA 98663

    Todd Johnson
    101 E 6th Street #200
    Vancouver, WA 98660

    Elie Kassab
    Prestige Development
    404 E 13th St
    Vancouver, WA 98660
    (360) 993-0010 ekassab@prestigedev.com

    David Konz
    Tidewater Barge Lines
    6305 NW Old Lower River Rd.
    Vancouver, WA 98660
    (360) 693-1491 dave.konz@tidewater.com

    Paul N. Montague
    Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce
    / Montague Resources
    P.O. Box 65236
    Vancouver, WA 98665
    (360) 910-1218 pmontag3@gmail.com

    Anne Mc Enerny-Ogle
    City of Vancouver
    415 West 6th Street
    Vancouver WA 98660    
    (360) 487-8600 anne.mcenerny-ogle@cityofvancouver.us

    Eric Olmsted, On Line Support, Inc.
    5500 NE 109th Ct  Ste E
    Vancouver, WA 98662

    Dellan Redjou
    2306 NE Andresen Road
    Vancouver, WA 98661

    Marla Sanger
    PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center
    602 NE 92nd Avenue
    Vancouver, WA 98668
    (360) 514-7656 msanger@peacehealth.org

    April Salsbury
    Salsbury & Co.,LLC
    654 Officers Row    
    Vancouver WA 98660
    (503) 850-8411

    Tim Schauer
    MacKay & Sposito
    1325 SE Tech Center Drive., Ste. 140
    Vancouver, WA 98683
    Rhona SenHoss
    Re-Elect Annette Cleveland
    Vancouver WA 98661 

    Ty Stober
    City of Vancouver
    415 West 6th Street
    Vancouver WA 98660

    Tim Strickland
    PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center
    1115 SE 164th Avenue
    Vancouver. WA 98683
    (360) 729-1483 

    Alishia Topper
    City of Vancouver
    415 West 6th Street
    Vancouver WA 98660
    (360) 487-8600 alishia.topper@cityofvancouver.us

    Bill  Turlay
    City of Vancouver
    415 West 6th Street
    Vancouver WA 98660
    (360) 487-8600 bill.turlay@cityofvancouver.us

    Steven Webb, Superintendent
    Vancouver Public Schools
    2901 Falk Road
    Vancouver, WA 98661
    (360) 313-1200 Steven.Webb@vansd.org

    Cynthia Weyhrich-Sanchez
    Orchards Tap, LLC
    10514 NE Fourth Plain
    Vancouver, WA 98662
    (360) 891-5917 cynsan24@msn.com

    Tracy Wilson
    DeWils Industries, Inc.
    6307 NE 127th Ave. 
    Vancouver, WA 98682
    (360) 892-0300 tracy@dewils.com

    Jeff Woodside,  Nutter Corporation
    7211A NE 43rd Ave.
    Vancouver, WA 98661