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Scenes from Kevin Miniter’s trip to Olympia to testify for startup tax relief.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — I blink and catch my breath.  Wait, where am I?!  Why am I in the hot seat staring at Washington’s House Technology and Economic Development Committee?  How did I get to sit next to the esteemed Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee and Redmond City Councilman John Stilin?  The pounding in my heart subsides long enough for me to remember.

I am testifying to urge the committee to approve House Bill 1693.  

This bill, sponsored by Representative Cyrus Habib (Bellevue), would provide up to 36 months of business and occupancy tax relief for new startups in Washington. 

Thrills of excitement chase my nerves away. I am here, on equal footing with a mayor and a councilmember, urging my legislature to support a bill that has the power to help hundreds of new startups prosper in Washington, including my own.

I gulp and begin my personal appeal for HB 1693 as a partner in a month-old startup.  While Washington provides freedom from income tax, the state does have a business and occupation tax that cuts into gross receipts. This gross receipts tax disproportionately hurts startups that may not become profitable for months or even years, but are still taxed.

SURF Incubator’s Neil Bergquist testifies.

The bill introduced yesterday morning is an updated version of the bill covered by GeekWire last week.  In its new form, HB 1693 provides up to 36 months of B&O tax relief — up to $1 million a year in tax relief — for certain startups in high growth fields.  I am happy to report that the updated version includes companies in the following sectors: computers, mobile devices, Internet publishing, software, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, solar energy, environmental technology, medical technology, industrial machinery and more.

After testifying, the Chairman of Washington’s Technology and Economic Development Committee thanked me… ME!?  He asked if I would be interested in updating the committee about our company’s progress in the next few months.  My jaw drops as I mutter: “I would be honored.”

I look around, still stunned that I am the only business owner to testify for this important bill. I was proud to see Neil Bergquist of SURF Incubator and Lew McMurran from the Washington Technology Industry Association testifying for our community. Seriously, what an amazing opportunity yesterday was!

The bill has broad bipartisan support and our new Governor Jay Inslee has included this bill as part of his jobs plan: the Working Washington Agenda. The House Committee voted 15 to 1 this morning and passed HB1693!

The bill now moves to the full house where our voices need to be heard. I urge you all to act to ensure that the legislature knows how important this bill is for our fledgling startups and for the greater entrepreneurial ecosystem in Washington.

How? I’m glad you asked! You can:

  • Email, call and visit your State Representatives and Senators.  Your personal stories have tremendous power with your legislators  (If you don’t know who they are, use this handy link to Find Your Legislators.)
  • Comment online. The Washington Legislature has an easy online method to comment on a specific bill that alerts your legislators and the bill’s sponsors. Simply click Comment on this Bill on the HB 1693 page.
  • Attend and even testify at an upcoming hearing for HB 1693
  • Write an op-ed in support of the bill for your local newspaper or your blog.
  • Email me at and I would be happy to update you as the bill progress and arrange for carpools to the Capitol.

Thank you for reading!  I hope you will join me to ensure that the dream of House Bill 1693 becomes the reality of tax relief for startups in Washington!

Note: Kevin Miniter is working with Living Voters Guide co-founder Travis Kriplean on interactive deliberation platforms for organizations and governments to listen and communicate better with their constituents. 

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