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Mike Richards

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Mike Richards grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA with a degree in Multiplatform Journalism and a minor in Public Relations. He wrote and published articles at Pittsburgh’s NPR station covering a variety of topics.

Millennium Bulk Terminals Receives First Permit For Coal Export Terminal

After nearly five years and five months in the permitting process, Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBT) has finally received its first permit for the company’s...

Lawmakers Skeptical They Can Agree On A Hirst Fix Before Session Ends

As the Washington state legislature enters the last day of its third special session, lawmakers are doubtful that a Hirst fix will be agreed...

Skagit Farmers Relieved Over Clarification of Swinomish Constitutional Amendments

Skagit Valley farmers are praising a recent letter sent by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) which clarified that amendments to a local...

Washington Becomes 5th State to Mandate Paid Family and Medical Leave

10 years after the Washington legislature first approved a framework without a clear plan for implementation, Governor Jay Inslee has signed a bill into...

New Buildable Lands Law Projected to Improve Data, Fill Gaps In State Housing Inventory...

Washington homebuilders and realtors are praising a new law that would clarify what land is considered buildable under Growth Management Act (GMA) comprehensive plan...

Construction Business Owner Shares His Struggle With Unresolved Workers’ Compensation Claim

A long-standing workers’ compensation claim can be enough to put a company out of business, take away the owner’s ability to stay profitable, or...

Washington State Sweet Cherry Growers Expecting “Heavy Set” Harvest

It should be a bountiful sweet cherry harvest this year, according to recent estimates from the U.S. National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). As cherry...

Locals Divided Over Benefits Of Proposed Vancouver Energy Oil Terminal Project

The proposed Vancouver Energy oil export terminal project is anticipated to create local jobs, lower the state and county’s dependence on foreign oil and...

Enhanced Safety Strategies Protect Workers, Reduce Construction Business Operating Costs

For construction businesses, workplace accidents have ripple effects which extend beyond the initial claim and the worker’s wellbeing – any injury can hold up...
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Lens Video – Vancouver Energy Project

Lens sat down with Vancouver Energy General Manager Jared Larrabee to discuss the proposed project, which is anticipated to create family-wage jobs, bolster energy...

Proposed Vancouver Energy Oil Terminal Would Bring Jobs, Revenue To Local Communities

Final public comment regarding a permit for the proposed Vancouver Energy oil terminal proved lively as local residents, environmental advocates, business stakeholders and members...

Identifying Small Business Challenges In Washington’s Workers’ Compensation System

In the business world, one workers' compensation claim can spell disaster for employers and their ability to stay afloat in a competitive market, and the financial effects...
Statewide Tourism Marketing Authority Awaits Funding Source

Statewide Tourism Marketing Authority Awaits Funding Source

As budgetary negotiations continue this special session, the survival of a bill that would put Washington’s tourism efforts back on the map is dependent...
Federal Bill Aims to Energize Agricultural Exports

Federal Bill Aims to Energize Agricultural Exports

In hopes of bolstering American agricultural exports, two U.S. Congressmen this month introduced a bill that would increase market promotion and the ability to...
New “Shot Clock” Law Aims to Curtail Permitting Delays

New “Shot Clock” Law Aims to Curtail Permitting Delays

Last week, Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law which would encourage timely completion of state environmental impact statements (EIS) for proposed development projects. Proponents of the...
Department, Businesses Prepare For Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Requirements

Department, Businesses Prepare For Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Requirements

As Washington prepares to implement a mandatory paid sick leave law for businesses, the department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is gauging small business concerns and considering cost mitigation...
Lawmakers, Agriculture Community Express Concern Over Findings of Campaign Audit

Lawmakers, Agriculture Community Express Concern Over Findings of Campaign Audit

In the wake of a national audit of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-funded and Washington state-based "What's Upstream” campaign targeting the agriculture community, U.S. lawmakers and state...
New Law “First Step” In Regulatory Relief for Washington Small Businesses

New Law “First Step” In Regulatory Relief for Washington Small Businesses

In a move proponents say will reduce confusion and better equip employers, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law this week legislation that soon will...
Labor, Business Leaders Ask Governor to Support Energy Projects

Labor, Business Leaders Ask Governor to Support Energy Projects

Numerous Washington state labor leaders are urging Governor Jay Inslee to endorse two economic development projects bogged down in the state’s permitting process, highlighting the regional energy security, expanded...
Business, Industry Leaders Warn “Unprecedented” Environmental Recommendation Will Harm Washington’s Economic Vitality

Business, Industry Leaders Warn “Unprecedented” Environmental Recommendation Will Harm Washington’s Economic Vitality

As Cowlitz County and the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) release the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the Millennium Bulk Terminals (MBT) coal...
Lens LegiTrack Update: May 1, 2017

Lens LegiTrack Update: May 2, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. Each week the Lens staff puts together a compilation of bills important to the business community...
As Well Permit Woes Persist, Local Governments Navigate Challenging Waters

As Well Permit Woes Persist, Local Governments Navigate Challenging Waters

As both chambers of the Washington State Legislature fail to agree on an acceptable solution to the ongoing permit-exempt well use and rural development...
Regular Session Concludes On Symbolic Tax Bill Votes

Regular Session Concludes On Symbolic Tax Bill Votes

The regular legislative session ended for all intents and purposes last week in Olympia with a symbolic vote on two Senate bills seeking to...
Lens LegiTrack Update: May 1, 2017

Lens LegiTrack: April 24, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. Each week, the Lens staff puts together a compilation of bills important to the business community...

Promoting Rural Business Investments

Washington State lawmaker testimony proved lively last week on a bill that would establish a tax credit program to incentivize investment in rural businesses. SB 5208...
Leveling The Playing Field For Manufacturing Businesses

Leveling The Playing Field For Manufacturing Businesses

A new Senate bill would encourage competitiveness and promote job creation for smaller and medium-sized manufacturing businesses by reducing their general business and occupation (B&O) tax rate....
Lens LegiTrack Update: May 1, 2017

Lens LegiTrack: April 17, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. Each week, the Lens staff puts together a compilation of bills important to the business community...
Developing A Small Business Bill Of Rights

Developing A Small Business Bill Of Rights

A bill seeking to equip small business owners with their own bill of rights during state agency inspections has passed both chambers of the Washington...
Clearing the Path To Middle-Skill Careers

Clearing the Path To Middle-Skill Careers

The Washington State House this week approved a measure which would boost recruitment efforts in high-demand industry fields, and fill worker shortages voiced by those...
Giving Small Businesses Regulatory Relief

Giving Small Businesses Regulatory Relief

Washington State small business employers might soon experience reduced regulatory burdens under a House bill which has now passed both chambers. On Friday, May 7,...
Paving The Way For Top-Notch Physicians

Paving The Way For Top-Notch Physicians

A bill requiring Washington to join an interstate compact offering streamlined physician licenses is well on its way to becoming law. As of Wednesday,...
Senate Hirst Bill: It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Senate Hirst Bill: It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

The fight for a potential fix to Hirst isn't over quite yet. Despite SB 5239 failing to receive a vote before the Wednesday, March 29 cutoff for passing...
Making Washington More Appealing For Manufacturing

Making Washington More Appealing For Manufacturing

A Senate bill making its way through the Washington State Legislature aims to attract more manufacturing companies to move to the state and incentivize those...
Opinions Still Clashing Over Hist Decision Bill

Opinions Still Clashing Over Hirst Decision Bill

A proposed legislative fix to the October 2016 Washington State Supreme Court "Hirst" ruling drew attention this week from state bankers, realtors, building sector businesses, and Native American tribe...
Promoting Timely Completion Of Development Projects

Removing Bureaucratic Roadblocks To Economic Development

A Senate bill now making its rounds in the House might finally improve Washington's lengthy permitting process and save project leaders headache. That is according to...
Lens LegiTrack Update: May 1, 2017

Lens LegiTrack Update: March 27, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. Each week, the Lens staff puts together a compilation of bills important to the business community,...
Uncovering Natural Resource Sector Career Paths

Uncovering Natural Resource Sector Job Opportunities

This week, the Washington State House Higher Education Committee passed a workforce study bill to better align the state's teachers with the workforce needs...
Promoting Middle-Skill Worker Recruitment Efforts

Promoting Middle-Skill Worker Recruitment Efforts

After an overwhelming majority vote in the Washington State Senate earlier this month, business advocates this week are praising SB 5713 during it's first...
Alleviating Small Business Regulatory Burdens

Alleviating Small Business Regulatory Burdens

After a recent Washington State Auditor's Office (SAO) performance audit determined state agencies are falling short when complying with the Regulatory Fairness Act (RFA),...
Lens LegiTrack Update: March 20, 2017

Lens LegiTrack Update: March 20, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. Each week, the Lens staff puts together a compilation of bills important to the business community,...

Consolidating Beer, Wine, and Spirits Licenses For Retail Businesses 

Washington state lawmakers are strongly supporting a House measure which would reduce licensing burdens for grocery store and wine or beer specialty stores. HB 1351 received...
Small Business 'Bill Of Rights' Legislation Receiving Strong Support

Small Business ‘Bill Of Rights’ Legislation Receiving Strong Support

After unanimously passing their respective Washington State houses last month, two pieces of legislation related to informing small business of their rights under state...
Deregulating Washington’s Movie Theater Industry

Deregulating Washington’s Movie Theater Industry

Local theater business owners are praising SB 5161, which they argue would offer a better return of investment for their venues and help those businesses better...
Lens LegiTrack Update: March 20, 2017

Lens LegiTrack Update: March 11, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. Each week, the Lens staff puts together a compilation of bills important to the business community,...
Inviting Skilled Medical Practitioners To Washington

Inviting Skilled Medical Practitioners To Washington

A measure that would join Washington with 18 other states in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact was met with favorable testimony in the a...

Implementing Statewide Regulations For Ridesharing Companies

This week, the Washington State Senate approved a measure which would establish statewide laws for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Lyft or Uber. During...
utreach Efforts For A Skilled Workforce

Bolstering Industry Outreach Efforts For A Skilled Workforce

As part of a national survey last fall, Washington state's construction sector businesses reported a strong need for recruiting skilled workers for hourly craft jobs....
Addressing Paid Rest Breaks For Washington's Growers

Addressing Paid Rest Breaks For Washington’s Growers

Many Washington state growers have dealt with a string of lawsuits stemming from a 2015 Supreme Court ruling related to compensating piece-time workers for...
Lens LegiTrack Update: March 20, 2017

Lens LegiTrack Update: March 3, 2017

The following article was compiled by the Lens staff. This week, the Lens staff would like to present "Lens LegiTrack." It will be a series...
Measure Streamlining Municipal Business Licensing Clears House

Measure Streamlining Municipal Business Licensing Clears House

Washington small business owners may soon get a large licensing and reporting break. On Thursday, March 2, HB 2005 was voted out off the House...
Potential "Hirst" Fix Clears Washington State Senate

Potential “Hirst” Fix Clears Washington State Senate

After much debate and public testimony, the Washington State Senate passed E2SSB 5239 in an attempt to correct the negative economic impacts of the...
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