Democrat from King County saves eastern Washington jobs

Rep. Larry Springer sponsors amendment to support economically depressed Pend Oreille County
Working to save family wage jobs statewide, Rep. Larry Springer, a Democrat from King County, sponsored an amendment Wednesday to protect a zinc mine in the far corner of eastern Washington.
“In this economy, it is critical that we get people back to work as quickly as possible in every corner of Washington State,” Springer said.
Springer amended House Bill 3014, which modifies the sales and use tax deferral program for investment projects in rural counties, to help revive the Pend Oreille zinc mine owned and operated by Teck Cominco, a major employer in Pend Oreille County.
The county is currently facing a 16 percent unemployment rate and relies heavily on the jobs provided by the Teck Cominco mine. Due to a suffering zinc market, primarily zinc used in the manufacture of car parts, the mine has temporarily shut down and is required to pay back a previously awarded exemption of $3.2 million.
Springer’s amendment 1680 provides the Teck Cominco with a two-year grace period, during which time the company must maintain 10 percent of their workforce. After two years, if the zinc mine doesn’t reopen and employ the approximately 150 to 180 individuals it had before shutting down, they will be required to pay back $3.2 million to the state, plus interest.
Springer said that the grace period gives the company the chance to complete upgrades to the mine.  They’re currently spending $55 million to upgrade their operation during the shutdown period.
“This creates an opportunity for this major employer to get back on their feet and support living wage jobs for hundreds of families in Pend Oreille County,” Springer said.