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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 29, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Setting minimum wage would be state function under GOP bill

Minimum wage is an important discussion, but it should happen at the state level, said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia.

He’s sponsoring Senate Bill 6307, which would prohibit cities and counties from enacting laws to regulate minimum wage, hours and other private employee considerations.

The bill would not set a minimum wage but would reserve that action for the state.

“We’re already way too complex when it comes to the way our businesses must operate,” Braun said. State lawmakers should decide minimum wage, he said,  “because when you toss that out there, all you’re doing is adding to the complexity of business.”

“We’ve seen the minimum-wage discussion grow over the course of the last year,” Braun said. “A lot of folks are reasonably concerned about what this does to their businesses or  jobs.”

The bill would preempt the Sea-Tac minimum wage initiative and similar actions being discussed in Seattle.

Moses Lake Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry is co-sponsoring the bill with four others. She’s chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, which held a hearing for the bill Wednesday. Braun said while there’s a good chance the bill could pass in the Senate, it’s not likely it would have much support in the House, which is controlled by the Democrats

Minimum wage has been a prevailing issue this session. Gov. Jay Inslee in his State of the State speech proposed a statewide minimum wage increase of $1.50 to $2.50 an hour. House Democrats on Jan. 23 proposed a nearly 30 percent increase to the state minimum wage, to $12 an hour, by 2017.

Braun and Holmquist Newbry were also part of a press conference on Wednesday to launch Republican bills aimed at creating jobs.

“What we’re trying to do here at the state level is reduce the cost of doing business,” Holmquist Newbry said about the Republican “JobsNow!” Agenda. “We know that’s going to increase our competitiveness nationwide and globally as well as improve our business climate.”

Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, wants to restore a rural tax program with House Bill 2204. He said small businesses should receive the same assistance as big business, citing Boeing tax incentives. “If we were going to take such efforts to save the Goliath of our state, than we should take equal efforts to save all the little Davids,” he said.

Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, sp0ke at the conference. She’s pushing Senate Bill 6137 to require the Department of Labor and Industries to conduct wage surveys using a “random sampling methodology” to calculate the prevailing rate of wage. She’s also pushing bills to promote job growth in cosmetology.

The Senate today passed Senate Bill 5970 – sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County – to remove barriers for veterans to find civilian jobs by recognizing military training and experience.

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