Ledger Square Lawyers Defend Business Community Against Government Overreach

Ledger Square Lawyer Jason Whalen represented the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County in a joint rebuke of the State of Washington’s misguided effort to sanction the EDB, Port of Tacoma, and the Chamber of Commerce for purported violations of the State’s campaign finance disclosure law, following their successful, joint litigation against the facially invalid local ballot propositions promulgated by Save Tacoma Water citizens.

Concluding that the State’s campaign finance disclosure law did not require the EDB, Port or Chamber to report, as independent expenditures, their legal fees incurred in seeking judicial review of the local ballot propositions, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ron Culpepper granted the EDB/Port/Chamber motions for summary judgment, dismissing all claims brought by the State of Washington.   Ledger Square Law will now seek reimbursement of its reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred, as authorized by statute. 

Ledger Square Law Salutes 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow and Tacoma Native Michael Vlahovich

Drew Perine/The News Tribune

Enjoying a sunny Tacoma afternoon aboard the Commencement, the lawyers and staff of
Ledger Square Law toasted the success of Mike Vlahovich, a 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow.  Born in Tacoma to Croatian immigrants, Mike is a master shipwright and third-Drew Perine/The News Tribunegeneration fisherman who has dedicated his life’s work to the preservation of the heritage of fisheries of the Northwest and the Chesapeake Bay.   During an afternoon outing, Mike provided Ledger Square lawyers and staff a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Coastal Heritage Alliance, www.coastalheritage.org.  Ledger Square Law salutes Mike and his tremendous accomplishment!

Photos: Drew Perine / The News Tribune

Ledger Square Law Helps Dunk Unlawful Local Initiatives Sponsored by Save Tacoma Water

Clock Tower Tacoma

Seeking to influence the administration of water rights for future development,  a group of concerned Tacoma citizens (organized as “Save Tacoma Water” or STW) sought to place local initiatives on the ballot to amend Tacoma City Code and the Tacoma City Charter to require a public vote for any future water use application exceeding one million gallons per day (“STW Initiatives”).  Because the proposed STW Initiatives were facially invalid under established state law, Ledger Square Law attorney Jason Whalen, representing member investors of the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County, teamed with attorneys representing the City of Tacoma, the Port of Tacoma, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (collectively, as Plaintiffs), to score a significant legal victory which sustains the rule of law regarding appropriate, pre-ballot court review of local citizen initiatives.  Today’s ruling provides certainty for the Port of Tacoma, the EDB, and the Chamber over the City’s administration of water and water rights for prudent economic development in our community.   The ruling also saves the citizens of Tacoma thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense in placing unlawful measures on the ballot.

After significant briefing and lengthy oral argument, the Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin granted Plaintiffs declaratory and permanent injunctive relief, finding that the STW Initiatives, as written, exceeded the permissible scope of local initiative power and were therefore invalid, as a matter of law.  By court order, the STW Initiatives are now precluded from placement on the November 2016 ballot—or any other ballot in the future, regardless of the signature validation by the County Auditor. 

The Court’s ruling properly relied upon the Washington Supreme Court’s recent decision in Spokane Entrepreneurial Center v. Spokane Moves to Amend Constitution, 185 Wn.2d 97 (2016), in holding the STW Initiatives legally invalid.

Changes To Wage and Overtime Laws Take Effect December 1, 2016

Wage laws change December 1st, 2016

Wage and overtime laws are changing once again. In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its Final Rule updating the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Final Rule takes effect December 1, 2016, and will update the minimum salary level every three years for the executive, administrative, and professional employees exemption.  Key provisions of the Final Rule are:

  1. The minimum standard salary increased from $23,660 to $47,476 annually (from $455 to $913 per week), which is the current salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region – which is currently the South.
  2. The minimum annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees increased from $100,000 to $134,004, which is the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally.
  3. The salary and compensation levels will be automatically updated every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles.  The initial salary increases take effect on December 1, 2016, and the first update will occur on January 1, 2020.
  4. Employers may now use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level. Payments must be paid on a quarterly or more frequent basis.
  5. The Final Rule makes no changes to the duties tests for highly compensated employees or employees under the executive, administrative or professional exemption.

All employers should review their handbooks and polices to ensure they are consistent with applicable law. Changes to the foregoing wage and overtime laws take effect December 1, 2016. If you have any questions or concerns regarding employee overtime or any other employment issues, please call us at Ledger Square Law.

Please join Pierce County Washington Women Lawyers on August 26 for their annual J-Fab event!

JFab Flyer

Each year, the PCWWL honors a local woman who is just fabulous for who she is and all she does for the community. Honoree this year is Jessica Hogan, a teacher and artist with Hilltop Artists, a local organization dedicated to improving the lives of young people through art. 

The event will be held from 5:30-8pm on August 26 at Ledger Square Law at 710 Market Street. PCWWL will also be collecting school supplies for children at the YWCA at this time. 

No RSVP is necessary. We look forward to seeing you there!