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Bills would standardize state wage, leave laws

February 4, 2016

The Columbian

February 2, 2016

By Jim Camden

OLYMPIA — The Washington Legislature should standardize the state’s minimum wage and sick leave laws to avoid a growing number of workplace standards, business representatives told a Senate panel Monday. But they didn’t agree on the best way to do it.

Labor and union officials, meanwhile, criticized a plan to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour over four years and to phase in minimum sick leave in 2018 as “too little, too late.”

Washington has five different sets of minimum wage standards and four different paid sick leave requirements, including one approved last week in Spokane over a mayoral veto.

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee considered bills standardize both.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, offered a plan to raise the minimum wage each year from the current $9.47 to $12 an hour by 2021 and to phase in paid sick and family leave starting at three days per year in 2018. Hobbs said it has things neither party will like but both could work with.

“We have to do something; otherwise, an initiative will be forced on us,” he said.

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