Hearth Insight
October 2021
Legislative Update
from our NWHPBA Lobbyist, Carolyn Logue

The Washington State Building Code Council narrowly voted last week to move forward the entire package of commercial energy code changes to the formal rule-making process. This package includes three controversial proposals that will significantly limit the ability to include natural gas in commercial projects.

The first proposal would ban the use of fossil fuel-based heat pump appliances and a second proposal bans the use of hot water appliances that use fossil fuels in these same commercial projects. The third proposal requires all commercial projects to install electric connections anywhere a gas appliance is installed, increasing costs and creating duplicity in the building process.

The three proposals together will effectively make it expensive and unnecessary to run natural gas to new and retrofitted commercial projects. Not only will this result in negative impacts for commercial enterprises that rely on natural gas, it could also impact surrounding residential projects. In addition, if these proposals pass into rule, we will see similar proposals in the residential energy code amendment process taking place next year.

A broad range of proponents of fuel choice for customers, including NWHPBA members, argued that natural gas and propane appliances need to remain in the mix as the state moves toward greenhouse emission goals. Cost issues, in addition to efficiency and reliability were the primary arguments, but the Council’s legal authority to ban certain fuels was also a major question for not putting the proposals forward. The arguments came close to succeeding as the chair of the Council, Andrew Klein, chose to break the tie with his yes vote.

At this point there is still time to fight these proposals. The proposals will now enter the rule-making process. Public hearings will be held on these as well and written comments will be solicited. In addition, we will be working with our coalition of builders, farmers, retailers and other businesses to put together a strategy for defeating these proposals. It will be imperative that NWHPBA members participate in this process going forward. Watch your email for calls to action when it is time to write to the council or testify.
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Update – For 2022, Washington Minimum Wage Rises to $14.49 Per Hour
Sept. 30, 2021 #21-030

TUMWATER — The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) announced Wednesday the state’s minimum wage will rise to $14.49 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2022.

State law mandates L&I calculate the minimum wage for the coming year based on the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). L&I compares the CPI-W from August of the previous year to the index for August of the current year to make the calculation.

The result is the state’s current minimum wage of $13.69 will go up 5.83 percent next year. BLS attributed the increase in the price index to more expensive gas, housing, household furnishings, and food.

The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Under state law, employers can pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to workers ages 14-15. For 2022, the wage for that younger group will be $12.32 per hour.

Cities are able to set minimum wages higher than the state’s, and both Seattle and Sea-Tac have higher wages.

For Overtime Exempt Employees:
The change in the minimum wage also means an increase in the minimum salary an employee must earn in 2022 to be overtime exempt. This impacts “white collar” positions held by executive, administrative, and professional workers plus computer professionals and outside salespeople.

Under the state’s rules governing exemptions to the Minimum Wage Act, salaried exempt employees must earn at least a minimum salary that is established as a multiplier of the minimum wage. Therefore, when the minimum wage increases, so does the salary threshold.

Those rules were updated in 2020. L&I created an eight-year implementation schedule that incrementally raises the multiplier until it reaches 2.5 times in 2028. The pace of the increase is based on the size of the employer.

For 2022, to be exempt from overtime, an employee must earn at least $1,014.30 a week ($52,743.60 a year), or 1.75 times the minimum wage.

Computer professionals who are paid by the hour have a different threshold. The new minimums are a part of changes to the overtime rules that took effect July 1, 2020.

The minimum wage applies to most jobs, including those in agriculture. In addition, agricultural workers will be eligible to earn overtime after working more than 55 hours per week, beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

L&I enforces the state’s wage-and-hour laws and investigates all wage-payment complaints.

More information about the minimum wage is available on L&I’s website, as are details about overtime, rest breaks, meal periods, and information on how to file a complaint. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.

For media information: Matthew Erlich, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-6508.

L&I Newsroom. Connect with L&I: Facebook and Twitter.
Member Spotlight
Company Name:
Blaze King Industries, Inc.
Walla Walla, WA and Penticton, B.C. Canada

Company Birthdate/Year: 
January 1977

NWHPBA Member Type:

Size of Manufacturing facility:
Approx. 50,000 sq. ft.

Number of employees:
Q: What do you do to separate your business from others?
A: We take a personal, professional and genuine approach to each and every interaction we have with dealers, consumers, and industry associates.

Q: What sets your products apart from other hearth products?
A: Blaze King is well known for building the longest burning wood stoves available. All our units are ultra clean-burning, highly efficient wood stoves and inserts that are thermostatically controlled.

Q: What trends do you see in the next year?
A: Upward! With the Federal 25D Tax Credit, we have experienced increased sales for every single model we make. We will also launch an innovative linear gas fireplace next year
Personal Info:
Q: How long have you been in the hearth business?
A: 25 years.

Q: What got you started in the hearth business? 
A: I owned a marketing consulting firm and one of the clients was Hal Larson, original founder of Blaze King. Hal put me to work shortly before he sold the company and I was asked to stay on after the change in ownership.

Q: What has kept you in the hearth business?
A: I like what I do. The company is a wonderful company and our employees never quit! Two employees retired this year with a combined service of more than 60 years. We have a great team in both our US & Canadian operations.

Q: Why are you a member of NWHPBA? 
A: Easy...to support this industry. Support it financially and by serving as past NWHPBA Board member, Co-chair of the Solid Fuel Section of our industry and HPBA Government Affairs member.

Q: Have you attended NWHPBA/HPBA Events? If so… what is your favorite part about them?
A: Yes. several. Participating in the education programs and being able to help dealers with the
complexities of regulations and the potential impact on their businesses.

Q: What's your Favorite movie?
A: The Great Escape.

Q: First car?
A: 1976 Ford Pinto (ripped out V6 and dropped in roller Boss 302!)

Q: First Concert?
A: Jethro Tull & Boston
Membership Renewals
For those who have not yet renewed, your membership is crucial and allows us to continue to advocate for the health of our industry. While 2020 was full of unprecedented events, we are thankful for our NWHPBA community. With the help of one another, we were able to support each other and share our successes through tough times.

Renewing your membership is easy, and we have many options for your convenience!
  • Renew online and pay via card or check
  • If you select to pay by check, you will be directly invoiced and can mail us a check.
  • Call us directly at NWHPBA and we can renew over the phone with you
  • 253-525-5153 (Due to COVID, if you do not connect with us, please leave a voicemail, and Katie, our Executive Director, will return your call within 24-48 hours)
"This industry can feel really secluded and alone. Maintaining my membership has allowed me to build relationships and really get to know the other members. This has opened doors and encouraged brainstorming to solve industry wide issues as well as internal ones within my business that someone had already been through and knew a great solution for."

-Ryann Blake, Chimney Techniques
We want to hear from you!!!
The NWHPBA Communications Committee publishes the Hearth Insight monthly. If you have a story or article you would like to have shared, submit below to be included in our upcoming editions!!!
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