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Wednesday, November 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Biz groups give up legal challenge to minimum wage, paid leave initiative

OLYMPIA -- Volunteers for Initiative 1433, which would raise the state minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave for many workers in Washington, deliver boxes of signed petitions to the state Elections Office Wednesday morning. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)
OLYMPIA -- Volunteers for Initiative 1433, which would raise the state minimum wage and guarantee paid sick leave for many workers in Washington, deliver boxes of signed petitions to the state Elections Office Wednesday morning. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)

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 announcing Friday they won’t appeal, 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 press release.

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

“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,” Patrick Connor, Washington director for the National Federation of Independent Business 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 provide workers with paid sick leave starting next January. 

That’s two subjects, the business groups said. No, said Kittitas County Superior Court Scott Sparks in dismissing the suit last month, 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 effects 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 overturned by a higher court.

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



Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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