OLYMPIA – Proposals to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour over four years and require sick leave for most workers passed a key committee Thursday on partisan votes.
Over objections from Republicans that it would hurt teenagers looking for their first jobs and put communities near the Idaho border at a disadvantage, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee approved a plan to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour next Jan. 1, $10.50 a year later, $11 a year after that and $12 at the start of 2020.
“That money goes right back into the economy,” said Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, D-Seattle.
But Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, said unemployment among teens is higher in Washington than most states, which he attributed to the highest statewide minimum wage in the country at $9.47 an hour.
Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, said it will hurt cities near Idaho, where the minimum wage is $7.25. “People from Idaho are coming into Washington to earn these wages. They’re not spending it in Washington. It hurts, in a border community, when that happens.”
On an identical 18-15 vote, Democrats approved a bill to require businesses with four or more employees to offer some form of paid leave for health problems for the worker or a family member. The bill sets up different amounts of leave based on the size of the company.
Republicans argued it wasn’t flexible enough and that some people will come to work sick even with the law. Both bills now go to the full House.
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