$12 minimum wage bill under consideration in Olympia.

$12 minimum wage bill under consideration in Olympia.

(Feb. 4, 2016) This week the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee held a public hearing on Substitute Senate Bill 6087 which would increase the state minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020. After the phase-in period, the wage would be tied to inflation in the same way the current minimum wage is tied to increases in the Consumer Price Index. The legislation also would mandate paid leave of one hour per 40 hours worked. It would not change any local wage ordinances already in place, but it would preclude municipalities from setting local minimum wage levels in the future.

This is an altered version of the original bill put forth last year by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. WLA & WRA have been in favor of increasing the statewide minimum wage done the right way, and have urged the Legislature to address the minimum wage issue this session. The WRA & WLA government affairs team testified on February 1 in favor of the bill.

Washington voters may see a $13.50 minimum wage initiative on the November ballot. In January, Raise Up Washington, a coalition backed by SEIU and UFCW, filed a statewide initiative to raise the minimum wage and mandate paid leave benefits. Raise Up Washington must gather around 300,000 signatures of registered voters by July to qualify for the ballot.

Six states have higher minimum wages than Washington, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California and Massachusetts, both at $10 an hour, share the distinction of having the highest state minimum wages in the country.  Washington’s minimum wage is $9.47, while Oregon is at $9.25 an hour. Idaho follows the federal standard of $7.25.