Sat., June 21, 2014
State Dems, in Spokane, call for rise in minimum wage
The Washington State Democratic Party on Saturday approved an 18-point party platform that will help guide the party for the next two years.
The party met for its biennial convention at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park in downtown Spokane.
Jaxon Ravens, the state party chairman, said delegates approved all 18 planks proposed by the party’s platform committee “with minor amendments.”
Among items in the platform is a call to raise the minimum wage. But it isn’t as specific as what was adopted by the Seattle City Council earlier this month: a phased-in rise of the minimum wage to $15.
The state party’s minimum wage position is: “We support an incremental increase in the state and federal minimum wage, with a living wage as the goal.”
The party also adopted a plank about shipping coal by train. Many environmental groups have raised climate change concerns about the export of coal to China.
The approved platform, however, does not explicitly take a stand against exporting coal.
“Recognizing the importance of jobs and property values, and consistent with other existing planks, all proposals for export of coal from Washington State must undergo a broad review of all economic, health and ecological impacts, to determine that there are no net negative impacts, prior to approval of such proposal or any alternatives,” the platform says.
The platform also calls for efforts to increase passenger service and the transport of agricultural and manufactured products by rail to prevent the rail system’s “domination by coal and oil shipments.”
State Party Vice Chairwoman Valerie Rongey said 501 delegates participated in the event. She said the platform planks are guiding principles, but they are not used as a litmus test that must be fully observed by Democratic candidates.
Party spokeswoman Misty Shock Rule said a complete, finalized platform was not available Saturday evening but would be posted to the party’s website early this week.
Ravens said the state party’s top goal this year is to capture enough seats to retake a majority in the state Senate.
“It’s all about the state Senate,” Ravens said.
Speakers on Saturday included Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell addressed party members on Friday. State Democrats last held their biennial convention in Spokane in 2008.