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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 14
No more money for you! Republicans say - State minimum wage hike, paid sick leave, gender equity all die in committee
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No more money for you! Republicans say - State minimum wage hike, paid sick leave, gender equity all die in committee

by Mike Andrew SGN Staff Writer A bill to increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour died April 1, when the Republican chair of the state Senate Commerce and Labor Committee cancelled a meeting that could have sent the bill to the floor for a vote.

A paid sick leave bill and one to promote gender pay equity also died in the Commerce and Labor Committee. April 1 is the deadline for legislative committees to pass policy bills and report them out for floor votes.

All three bills passed the Democratic-controlled state House. Republicans have controlled the state Senate since 2013, when nominal Democrats Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon defected to their side.

The minimum wage measure was sponsored by Seattle-area Rep. Jessyn Farrell. Her bill would have phased in a $12 an hour minimum wage by 2019, with the wage increasing to $10 an hour in 2016, $10.50 an hour in 2017, $11 an hour in 2018, and finally $12 an hour in 2019.

Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner of Spokane, chair of the Commerce and Labor Committee, charged the bill was the product of Seattle extremists.

'This proposed minimum wage increase would be devastating to countless small businesses. I won't put people in Eastern Washington out of work to placate the egos of extreme Seattle liberals,' Baumgartner said after cancelling his committee's March 31 meeting and killing the bill.

The paid sick leave bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, would have required businesses with more than four employees to offer paid sick days. It also died when the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee cancelled its meeting.

The third bill killed by Baumgartner, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Tana Senn of Mercer Island, would have required employers to provide valid reasons such as differences in education, training or experience if employees challenge pay disparities between workers of different genders for similar work. The measure would have also forbidden employers from ordering workers not to disclose their salaries.

Seattle's minimum wage ordinance, which went into effect April 1, and its paid sick leave ordinance, remain in force.

Billionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, a supporter of the Seattle minimum wage ordinance, has suggested he would finance a 2016 ballot initiative to raise the state minimum wage to $16 per hour.

After Baumgartner announced he was killing the minimum wage bill, Hanauer Tweeted '$16 in 16 here we come,' and 'If you're a WA State progressive, you love this guy @SenBaumgartner. Now, better politics for [Democrats] in 16.'

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