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Politics Northwest

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

January 15, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Bills to raise minimum wage, require paid sick days introduced in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Washington already has the highest minimum wage of any state in the country, but a packed hearing room at the Capitol was filled with supporters of a new minimum-wage bill saying it’s just not high enough.

“Income inequality is as  bad as it has been since my grandmother was a small girl in 1929,” said Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle. “We know that we can do better than that.”

The bills sponsored by state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, and Farrell would increase the hourly wage to $12 over the course of four years, starting in 2016. The current minimum wage in Washington is $9.47 per hour. The Seattle City Council and voters in SeaTac have already approved increases to $15 an hour.

A long row of lawmakers stood behind speakers to illustrate the support for the measure. Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, was lauded for stepping across the aisle, as was Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who is sponsoring another bill introduced by the group to set a minimum of paid sick days.

Farrell said legislative action was the best way to approach the problem rather than a ballot measure. Almost 40 representatives have voiced approval for the minimum-wage bill.

“We wanted to introduce it early so that we can have time to have a good dialogue with folks on both sides of the aisle,” Farrell said. “There’s no doubt there’s a lot of momentum on this issue.”

A similar bill last year to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour, phased in over three years, was never put to a vote in the House.

Comments | More in Politics Northwest, State Legislature | Topics: minimum wage, paid sick leave, Washington Legislature

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