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Business groups drop challenge to Washington’s new minimum wage, family leave law

UPDATED: Sun., May 14, 2017, 6:10 p.m.

Thousands of Washington high school seniors may have to hang their hopes on the Legislature to receive their diplomas this year, after failing to pass a controversial biology assessment test required to earn the certificate. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)
Thousands of Washington high school seniors may have to hang their hopes on the Legislature to receive their diplomas this year, after failing to pass a controversial biology assessment test required to earn the certificate. (Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – Business groups that unsuccessfully challenged the new minimum wage law approved last year by Washington voters won’t appeal a court decision against their lawsuit.

But in their announcement on the decision Friday, the groups still insisted they were right that Initiative 1433 was unconstitutional because it covered too many topics. They just can’t afford to keep going, they said in a news release.

The former campaign chairwoman for I-1433 said they were merely accepting the fact they’d lose their appeal.

Patrick Connor, the Washington director for the National Federation of Independent Business, agreed. “We still have a convincing case to make and would love to appeal to the end, but the cost and commitment of time necessitate we cease our efforts,” he said.

The NFIB, along with the state Farm Bureau, Food Industry Association, Retail Association and Northwest Food Processors Association, had sued to block the initiative, saying it violates a constitutional requirement that a ballot measure have only one subject. The initiative raises the minimum wage in Washington in steps through 2020, and requires employers to provide workers with paid sick leave starting next January.

That’s two subjects, the business groups said. Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Scott Sparks disagreed when he dismissed the suit last month, saying it falls under a single general topic of labor standards.

Connor said that will allow future initiative writers to overlook the “crystal clear instruction” in the state constitution to make initiative ballot titles contain a single subject. “The courts have thrown open the door to political consulting sleight-of-hand,” he said.

Teresa Mosqueda, campaign chairwoman for Raise Up Washington, one of the campaign organizations supporting I-1433, said the proposal is clearly about related labor standards because any worker knows that if they don’t have paid sick leave and lose a day’s pay it affects their overall paycheck, just as a higher minimum wage does.

The Kittitas County ruling showed the ballot measure received broad support around the state, she said, and the business groups are merely recognizing that Sparks’ decision wasn’t going to be overturned by a higher court.

“I’m glad that they see the writing on the wall,” Mosqueda said.



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