Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Local breaking business news prepared by Business Examiner staff.

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Copyright 2012, PCBE Inc. All Rights Reserved

Governor asks DOR to grant filing extensions to businesses affected by storm
DuPont OKs watershed restoration, mining permit application deal
Walmart Foundation gives $375K to state nonprofits
Stateís long-term care partnership wins federal approval
Private sector bias charges hit all-time high
Goodwill offering free tax help, filing
Areaís biggest community garage sale coming to Lewis County
Blog watch: Business savvy, parking, billboards and ‘Buy American’
Governor asks DOR to grant filing extensions to businesses affected by storm
Gov. Chris Gregoire has asked the Washington State Department of Revenue to grant tax return filing extensions to businesses affected by last week’s winter storm.

“The heavy snowfall and freezing rain resulted in road conditions and power outages that clearly affected the ability of some businesses to file their state excise tax returns on time,” Gregoire said. “I have asked DOR to grant filing extensions to these businesses, and to waive penalties for those unable to meet the deadline. This request won’t impact the state’s tax collections. It merely pushes it back a bit to give our business owners who need it a much needed break.”

Revenue Director Brad Flaherty said businesses need to request the extension prior to the Jan. 25 due date for monthly filers or the Jan. 31 due date for quarterly and annual filers.

“We realize this is short notice for monthly filers. A business that is not able to request an extension prior to the due date may still request a penalty waiver for late filing penalties due to circumstances beyond their control,” Flaherty added.

Businesses should call the department at (800) 647-7706 to request an extension. Penalty waivers must be requested in writing and can be submitted through the department’s electronic filing system or e-mailed to communications@dor.wa.gov.

DuPont OKs watershed restoration, mining permit application deal

DuPont City Council has approved a settlement agreement allowing development of a plan to restore the Sequalitchew Creek watershed, including Edmond Marsh.†

The agreement also allows CalPortland Co. to apply for gravel mining and reclamation permits in areas adjacent to its existing mine. CalPortland will provide funding for developing, reviewing, permitting and implementing the restoration plan.

Both the restoration plan and mining proposal will undergo the normal review processes, including opportunities for public input. Any mining proposal will need to complete the entire regulatory process and meet all regulatory requirements in addition to being dependent on the successful development, environmental review, permitting and funding of the watershed restoration plan.

Changes in the watershed and creek channel in the 1800s and early 1900s harmed fish habitat and water flow over time. Studies show that even modest increases in the water flowing through the creek would dramatically improve access to, and quality of, its fish habitat.

Walmart Foundation gives $375K to state nonprofits
Walmart’s Washington State Giving Council has awarded 10 grants totaling $375,000 to nonprofit organizations across the state. The grantees are all focused on addressing basic needs, including hunger and job training.

Organizations receiving grants include:

ï Northwest Harvest ñ The only nonprofit food bank distributor operating statewide, the organization provides 1.6 million meals every month to a network of more than 325 food banks, meal programs and high-need schools. Wal-Mart’s $25,000 grant will enable Northwest Harvest to provide 1.1 million meals.

ï Puget Sound Blood Center ñ PSBC received $65,000 for the purchase of a new high cube truck which is essential to transporting the equipment necessary for mobile blood collection drives at 75 donor sites in offices, schools, churches and community centers across Mason and Thurston counties.

ï Emergency Food Network of Tacoma-Pierce County ñ EFN has more than 147,000 client visits a month and received $25,000 to help provide a comprehensive, healthy and consistent emergency food supply to individuals and families. This year, EFN anticipates its distribution center will provide more than 18 million pounds of food at no cost to 67 food programs in Pierce County.

ï Thurston County Boys & Girls Club ñ The organization received $40,000 for its Triple Play Health & Wellness Program, which helps more than 2,000 members become healthy, active and learn new ways to handle stress, maintain a healthy body and form positive relationships.

Stateís long-term care partnership wins federal approval
The Washington State Health Care Authority, the legislature, Office of the Insurance Commissioner and the federal government have completed 
changes in law, administrative rules and State Plan Amendments that will provide 
some additional long-term care insurance options for individuals planning for their future care needs.

Similar forms of the Washington State Long-Term Care Partnership, which was approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Dec. 27, 
have already been adopted by a number of other states as authorized in 2005 federal Deficit Reduction legislation. The partnership applies to services provided at home, 
in a community setting or in an institution.

It basically allows purchasers of private long-term care insurance to protect some assets in determining their eligibility for future Medicaid-funded long-term care services.†An additional benefit is that assets that have been protected under a qualified long-term care 
partnership policy will also be exempt from the State’s Estate Recovery provisions.†The
 object is to make private long-term care insurance more attractive and financially realistic 
for middle-class families.

“The long-range object of this partnership is to increase individual responsibility for 
long-term care and to ease the burden on Medicaid, which is currently the state’s largest 
purchaser of long-term care services,” said Doug Porter, Director of the State Health Care 
Authority. “As our population continues to age and we deal with the state’s fiscal crisis, 
we have to realize that the current trend in these costs is not sustainable.”

Click here for more information.

Private sector bias charges hit all-time high
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received a record 99,947 charges of employment discrimination and obtained $455.6 million in relief through its administrative program and litigation during Fiscal Year 2011.

For the second year in a row, despite a record number of receipts, the commission resolved more charges than it took in with 112,499 resolutions (7,500 more resolutions than FY 2010 ñ an increase of 7 percent) ñ leaving 78,136 pending charges, a 10 percent decrease in its inventory, the first year the agency has seen a reduction since 2002.

The commission’s mediation program also reached record levels, both in the number of resolutions ñ 9,831 ñ which is 5 percent more than in FY 2010 (9,362), and benefits ñ $170,053,021 ñ $29 million more than FY 2010.

EEOC filed 300 lawsuits and its litigation efforts resulted in $91 million of relief, representing the third year in a row that the relief obtained was greater than in the preceding year.

Goodwill offering free tax help, filing
Goodwill’s VITA program is kicking off another tax season by offering free tax assistance during the annual KeyBank Super Refund Saturday and every Tuesday and Thursday through the federal tax deadline on April 17.

The Super Refund Saturday event is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 4 at Milgard Work Opportunity Center, 714 27th Ave., Tacoma. RSVP to Kim Houg at (253) 573-6698.

Free VITA tax preparation service is also available at the center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until April 17.

In addition, KeyBank and South Sound Outreach are sponsoring another Super Refund Saturday event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at 1106 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma. Call (253) 593-2111 for an appointment.

Areaís biggest community garage sale coming to Lewis County
For sellers and shoppers alike, March 31 could be the biggest garage sale day of this year. Vendors are already claiming booths as the Southwest Washington Fair & Expo Center, located between Chehalis and Centralia, prepares for its annual “Spring Community Garage Sale.”

What started eight years ago with 30 vendors in one building, has grown into an event which takes over virtually an entire fairgrounds.

Last spring, a record-breaking 416 vendor booths filled 10 buildings and 6,000 people visited the fair and expo center for the big sale.

For vendor information, click here or call (360) 740-2655.

Blog watch: Business savvy, parking, billboards and ‘Buy American’
The Live Wire talks about “being business basic savvy.”

BIA Blog looks at proposed changes to Tacoma’s downtown off-street parking requirements.

Stop by Exit 133 for more information about digital billboards on state highways.

Olympia Business Blog looks at the push to “Buy American.”

And Washington State Insurance Update reports on an insurer fined $100,000.

Editor’s note: This BE Daily feature is meant to bring you the latest news and conversation summaries from the Blogosphere. We’ll scan South Sound blogs each Wednesday and provide roundups of the business topics people are blogging about.

If you have a news item or story idea that you would like to see in the BE Daily, please send an e-mail along with your contact information to daily@BusinessExaminer.com.

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