Senate votes to remove WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson

By | February 6, 2016 | Comments

The Republican-majority Senate voted to dismiss Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson from her position Friday by not confirming her three years after she was appointed to the job by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Lynn Peterson

Lynn Peterson

The Friday afternoon vote was 21 to 25, with Democrats voting to confirm and Republicans, along with one Democrat who caucuses with the GOP, voting to remove her.

Inslee criticized the move, saying it was a display of partisan politics by Senate Republicans. “They engaged in a politically-motivated attack on an eminently qualified woman,” Inslee said in a statement.

Republican Sen. Andy Hill spoke on the Senate floor about his frustration over issues with the new I-405 express tolling lanes, describing the situation as “abysmal.”

“This is a very, very serious decision. But I have no confidence that the agency is in a position to fix the problems they have without a change at the top,” Hill said. 

Sen. Cyrus Habib, a Kirkland Democrat, said problems with tolling and Good to Go passes are the fault of lawmakers.

“Those are not issues created by an administrator,” he said. “Those were issues put in place by us and by our predecessors here in the Legislature.”

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, defended Peterson, saying she stepped up quickly when the I-5 Skagit River Bridge collapsed in 2013. “She made sure that bridge was rebuilt under budget and faster than anyone predicted,” he said.

“It is shameful that this body would consider not confirming such an incredible and tireless champion for mobility and public safety in Washington state,” Ranker said. 

Republican Sen. Don Benton said the Skagit bridge collapse was the fault of transportation department. “Why did that bridge fail? The bridge failed because the department issues oversize load permits without verifying the routes that those oversize loads are going to take,” he said. 

Benton said the vote was “not about a lovely lady who is working over at the Department of Transportation,” but about holding people accountable for competence in government.

Watch TVW video of the entire floor debate here.

Categories: transportation, WA Senate

Two bills on use of deadly force by police pass out of committee

By | February 5, 2016 | Comments

The House Committee on Public Safety voted to advance two bills Friday concerning the use of deadly force by police officers. The bills focus on data collection and the formation of a new task force on community policing.

The committee chose not to vote on a third, more controversial bill, that would change current law to make it easier to criminally charge a police officer for improper use of deadly force. Nearly 70 people testified on that bill before the committee earlier this week.

Members voted to pass House Bill 2908 out committee unanimously. It establishes the “Community Policing Standards Task Force for a Safer Washington,” tasked with reviewing:

  • Laws, practices and training programs regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement
  • Policies, practices and tools that are available as an alternative to deadly force (for example, tasers and other non-lethal weapons)

It must also recommend modifications to the “standards for justifiable homicide and criminal liability.” A preliminary report is due at the end of the year, with a final report in 2017.

The committee amended the bill to add more seats to the task force, including representatives from the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, the Black Alliance of Thurston County, and the Disability Rights of Washington. It removed the representative from the Attorney General’s office.

House Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman (right) and Ranking Minority Member Rep. Brad Klippert on Feb. 5.

House Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman (right) and Ranking Minority Member Rep. Brad Klippert on Feb. 5.

Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, said the bill is a way to build a relationship between law enforcement and the public.

“There is not enough trust between the community — whether they are vulnerable communities, under-served communities, or the community in general — and our hard working law enforcement,” he said.

“We need to be listening more to one and other. And that means gathering around the table in a respectful and deliberate fashion.”

The second bill, House Bill 2882, would require Washington law enforcement agencies to report data on justifiable homicides and instances of deadly force to the Attorney General annually.

Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, said that the state has never collected this type of data.

“This is not to besmirch law enforcement, this is just to gather the data,” she said. “And if it turns out that most of the homicides were justifiable, that’s one thing. If it turns out that it wasn’t, then we need to do something to change the law.”

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, voted against the bill because of the deadlines and requirements outlined for law enforcement, but said he agreed with the goal of the bill.

The bill was passed out of committee with five in favor and four opposed.

Watch TVW video of the vote here.

Proposal would use $300 million from “rainy day” fund to combat homelessness

By | February 5, 2016 | Comments

Senate Democrats announced a bill Thursday aimed at addressing what they describe as a homelessness “crisis” in Washington.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, announces the Bring Washington Home Act at press conference on Feb. 4

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, announces the Bring Washington Home Act at press conference on Feb. 4

Supporters call the bill the “Bring Washington Home Act,” and it would spend nearly $300 million on services and housing for homeless people in Washington. It’s sponsored by Senate Democratic Minority Leader Sharon Nelson, along with 21 other Democratic co-sponsors.

Watch TVW video of the press conference here.

The bill spends $281 million — of which $186 million would come from the Budget Stabilization Account, commonly referred to as the state’s “rainy day fund.” The account was created to help the state get through emergencies and recessions. It is expected to have over $700 million in it by June 2017.

“The Bring Washington Home Act is a holistic approach to homelessness. It uses existing money sitting in the rainy day fund and invests in people and families that are homeless or in danger of being homeless,” Nelson said. “This is money that’s sitting in the bank.”

It takes a three-fifths vote to use funds from the rainy day account, which would require another seven votes to get out of the Senate. Then, the House would also have to approve it by a three-fifths vote. Nelson said Senate Republican leadership has continually said they don’t want to dip into that fund.

Recently, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R- Ritzville, was quoted as disagreeing with Sen. Nelson’s proposal to use the rainy day fund, calling homelessness “her emergency.”

Nelson said she was “taken aback” by the comment. “This isn’t about me.” she said.

“There’s an outcry in the state,” she added. “And if the Republicans just want to say ‘No,’ that’s shameful.”

Republican Sen. Mark Miloscia, Federal Way, said he agrees that homelessness is an emergency, citing several bills he’s involved in this session that address the issue. However, he says using the rainy day fund isn’t the way to approach it.

“We might as well just burn the $300 million on the Capitol steps,” he said.

Miloscia said that “throwing money” at the emergency or at existing programs will be a “complete failure.” He agrees they need to invest, but not until existing programs are managed more effectively. He said the state needs to start changing the way they deliver services to homeless people.

Nelson said the bill was modeled on other successful programs, such as the Utah Housing First program.

The act would pay for rapid rehousing, emergency shelters and behavioral health shelters. Funding would also go toward youth programs. Approximately $86 million would go into a new account, called the Homeless Assistance Account, and the rest would go into the existing housing trust fund for construction and maintenance of housing. The announcement with the full funding breakdown is available here.

The bill would also fund the Homeless Student Stability and Opportunity Gap Act under a different bill, Senate Bill 6298, which is sponsored by Sen. David Frockt, D- Seattle. That bill would create a grant process to identify homeless students and providing housing for them.

Those speaking at Thursday’s press conference pointed to recent numbers that show a sharp increase in the homelessness across the state, including a 9 percent jump in homeless students.

“These are our sons and daughters that are out there, they’re going to school to our other sons and daughters,” said Julio Cortes with Snohomish housing non-profit Cocoon House.

“We’re not asking for handout, we’re asking for an investment. An investment in our kids, an investment in our communities, an investment in our neighbors,” Cortes said.

Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby also spoke about the impact homeless people have on public spaces in Olympia, particularly downtown.

Nelson said that regardless of the outcome this session, she would continue to pursue the issue.

“This is not a one time shot,” she said. “As a mom, I’m just not going to let this go.”

Senate hears from public on plan that sets 2018 deadline for funding education

By | February 5, 2016 | Comments

The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard public testimony this week on the Senate’s education funding plan, which has a later deadline than a House funding plan to fix the state’s problem with an overreliance on school levies.

Nearly all those who testified were opposed to Senate Bill 6195, which requires legislative action to be taken by 2018 to “reform” school district levies. That’s in contrast to the House education funding plan, which calls for eliminating reliance on levies by 2017.

Watch TVW video of the hearing here.

Ben Rarick of the State Board of Education testified in opposition to the bill, saying it doesn’t strengthen an education funding plan that was already “pretty weak to begin with.” He said at this point, it may not matter if the bill is passed or not.

“When the court imposed $100,000-per-day fines and found the Legislature in contempt, we thought that that would generate a sense of urgency coming into the short session,” he said.  “At this point, we would urge you to not pass the bill, or to go back and pass something that truly is a robust response to what we know are the needs of our system.”

Care Maree Harper testifying in opposition to Senate bill.

Care Maree Harper testifying in opposition to Senate bill.

Care Maree Harper, president of Endeavour Elementary School Parent Teacher Student Association in Issaquah, commended lawmakers for “working toward a solution.”

But she still spoke in opposition to the bill, saying schools need the funding now. She said her son’s school relies on outside funding for basic items.

“This year alone, our PTSA has given over $35,000 to our school for items that should be part of basic education funding,” she said. “And that includes over $17,000 for an early reading and intervention program.”

She said those items should be part of the state’s basic education funding, but instead they came out of the “pockets of the parents.”

Charlie Brown with the Puget Sound Schools Alliance testified as “other” at the hearing. He told members if they adopt this bill, they should also adopt a another bill that delays a decrease in the levy lid by another year.

“We would ask you to move the levy cliff by that one year so it’s consistent with the work that you all will be doing as you move forward on trying to resolve the McCleary decision,” he said.

He said failure to act on the so-called “levy cliff” will impact districts across Washington to the “tune of about $92 million.”

Categories: Education, TVW, WA Senate

Lawmakers hear testimony on bill to change deadly force law for police

By | February 5, 2016 | Comments

A proposal that would change the standard in Washington for which police officers could be charged with a crime for improper use of deadly force drew an overflow crowd to Olympia on Wednesday.

Under current state law, a police officer cannot be held criminally liable for using deadly force when acting “without malice and with a good faith.”

House Bill 2907 would change that, removing immunity for officers acting without malice and with good faith. It also outlines when deadly force is justifiable.

“Its time to change this immeasurable, impossible to prove, and imprecise law. Why? Because we are dealing with high value lives,” said Karen Johnson with the Black Alliance of Thurston County, who requested the legislation.

She said there is a lack of trust between communities and law enforcement.

Watch TVW video of the hearing here.

Prime sponsor of the bill Rep. Luis Moscoso, D- Bothell, said there needs to be an open and transparent discussion about police shootings.

“There’s not a person in this room that hasn’t been paying attention to a lot the shootings in this country,” he said. “We are all concerned about why that’s been happening and how we can prevent that.” We need to have a civil discussion on the issue.”

Tom McBride, the executive secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, testified in opposition to the bill. He refuted the idea that police officers are not prosecuted for wrongdoing.

“There’s not a resistance to filing charges when they’re deserved, whether it’s a police officer or anyone else,” he said. “What we are interested in is a fair standard upon which to base our decisions.”

He said that fair standard has to take into account what police officers are asked to do each day, which is put themselves into “ambiguous, high-risk situations.”

Also speaking in opposition to the bill was Troy Meyers, an instructor at at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

“One of the things that I have to tell them with every graduating class is that the state has their back if they act with good faith,” he said. “I don’t want to have to stop saying that.”

Meyers said that while much of the debate has focused on racial injustice, the bill doesn’t do anything to address race or mental health problem.

“I expect my state to address those things head-on if that’s really our concern,” he said.

An overflow room waits to testify at the House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. More than 65 people signed in to testify.

An overflow room at the House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. More than 65 people signed in to testify.

Carlos Bratcher with the Seattle chapter of the National Black Police Association urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it will provide clarity to police officer. He said he’s shocked over what he’s seen in the last few years with police shootings

“As with any good practicing law enforcement officer, if I have a colleague or another officer that commits the use of deadly force under questionable circumstances, I want to see them being held accountable, as does any citizen in the state,” he said.

Other supporters say is too difficult to prosecute police officers in Washington. Pastor Richmond Johnson said the current law ties the hands of prosecutors — even when prosecution is needed.

“There’s a negative effect when the culture says shoot first. I’m persuaded that ‘shooting first’ is a result of a weak mind. We’ve got to turn the culture around,” said Johnson, who is the director of Partnering for Youth Achievement in Bremerton and has served on a police and community task force.

Mitch Barker represents the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and spoke in opposition to the bill.

He said the goal should not be to prosecute more officers, but to find a way to reduce the number of police shootings.

The committee also heard House Bill 2908, which would create a joint legislative task force on community policing standards, as well as a House Bill 2882 requiring law enforcement to collect data on deadly force incidents. Many of those who testified in favor of the deadly force bill were also in favor of the other bills.

House passes bill modifying Equal Pay Act, 56-41

By | February 4, 2016 | Comments

The House passed a bill off the floor Wednesday that makes it easier for coworkers to share information about their salaries and aims to prevent gender discrimination in the workplace.

House Bill 1646 modifies the state’s Equal Pay Act so that an employer cannot retaliate against workers for wage discussions in the workplace. It also prohibits employers from assigning people “less favorable” jobs because of their gender.

Watch TVW video here. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.11.16 PMRep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, is the sponsor of the bill. She said paying people differently for the same job is “unfair, unbelievable and frankly un-American.”

“Today’s fight is about equal pay,” she said. “We are not asking business to rearrange their payroll. We simply are asking … for people to have the information they need to make the most basic of informed decisions.”

Under the bill, workers can seek actual damages or statutory damages of up to $5,000 and attorney fees if the Equal Pay Act is violated.

Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden, urged a no vote on the bill. “I have concerns that this will do nothing to empower women, however, it will empower attorneys,” she said.

She said women have been protected under federal law since 1963. “It is against the law to not provide equal pay for equal work,” she said.

Members debated an amendment before passing the bill that would have eliminated the section that makes it a “violation for receiving less favorable employment opportunities,” among other things.

Republican Rep. Shelly Short of Addy introduced the amendment, saying it was important to have  “succinct direction to both our employers and employees.”

But Democrats said the amendment waters down the bill. Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, said the amendment would make the bill “almost ineffective in actually doing anything.”

The amendment failed. The final bill passed on a 56-41 vote, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Categories: TVW, WA House

Rep. Graham Hunt resigns over accusations about his military record

By | February 3, 2016 | Comments
Rep. Graham Hunt

Rep. Graham Hunt

Rep. Graham Hunt, R-Orting, resigned his seat in the House on Tuesday following accusations that he mislead people about his military experience and embellished his service records.

Hunt said people in his district deserve a representative who can “zealously advocate” on their behalf. “Under the current circumstances, I no longer feel that I can meet these expectations,” Graham wrote in a statement.

The Seattle Times reported in January that Hunt was listing three medals on his official biography that a military personnel center shows no record of him receiving. A doctored photo also appeared on Hunt’s Facebook page that falsely identified him in Iraq. The News Tribune later wrote abut two people who say that Hunt lied to them about details of his military service.

Hunt wrote in his resignation that takes “full responsibility” for any errors. “As I have stated before, I have nothing to conceal, nor have I ever deliberately conducted myself in a manner that compromises my integrity or the integrity of this office. However, the recent speculation of impropriety has taken its toll on my family, my colleagues, and the community,” he said.

House Republican Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen said he believes Hunt’s resignation is in the best interest of the district and Legislature. “Washington House Republicans have high ethical standards and hold each other accountable,” he wrote Tuesday. “While this is a disappointing outcome, we don’t want people to forget that Graham served in the U.S. Air Force and advocated for several causes – including veterans’ issues – during his time as state representative.”

Hunt’s formal letter of resignation was hand-delivered to Gov. Jay Inslee on Feb. 2. Hunt wrote that he hopes for the “appointment process to occur swiftly.” The Pierce County Council and Thurston County commissioners will vote on a replacement to serve out Hunt’s term from a pool of three candidates selected by the Republican party.

Categories: Uncategorized

Proposal to ban abortions based on gender considered in Senate committee

By | February 2, 2016 | Comments

On Tuesday pro-choice and pro-life advocates appeared before a Senate committee to testify on a bill that would ban abortions in Washington based on the gender of the fetus.

Under Senate bill 6612 a doctor who knowingly performs an abortion based on sex-selection would be guilty of an Class C felony punishable by incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000. The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. Ann Rivers of La Center.

Watch the TVW video of the hearing here.

Michael Pauley of pro-life group Human Life of Washington told lawmakers the bill is necessary because there is evidence suggesting that some Asian Americans are having abortions based on gender in the United States. He cited a 2011 study in Prenatal Diagnosis that suggests that Asian and Pacific Islanders were selecting males.

“There is a demand that exists for sex-selection abortions,” he said. “And regardless of the tragic consequences for society there are abortion providers that will cooperate with the request.”

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Janet Chung testifying in opposition to bill.

Janet Chung, an attorney with nonprofit Legal Voice, testified against the bill — calling it a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

As a “proud Korean-American,” Chung said that the bill accuses Asian Americans of choosing to have abortions because they prefer sons over daughters.

“The ban on abortions based on the sex of the fetus is rooted in ugly and dangerous stereotypes about Asian American women and our community,” Chung said.

Chung condemned sex-selection abortions, saying it is a “very real and deeply disturbing problem.” But, she said, “America is not India or China.”

Anuj Khattar, a family medicine physician at Swedish Family Medicine, also spoke in opposition to the bill. He said the ban would create a barrier between the doctor-patient relationship by forcing doctors to “police” a patient’s motivation for having an abortion.

“Out of fear of this bill, doctors will be forced to question the decision of Asian American patients in particular because there is no obvious way to know why patients makes a decision to end a pregnancy,” he said.

Khattar said that patients must be able to trust their doctors to maintain confidentiality. A ban on gender-based abortions would affect doctors’ ability to have honest conversations with patients, he said.

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Lakewood, asked Khattar if he would perform an abortion on a woman who told him that “she or her husband did not want to have a girl.”

Khattar responded saying he’s never been faced with that scenario. “I’m not the police. I’m going to go along with a woman to allow her to make the decision that is right for her family and my job is to trust them,” he said.

Supporters of the gender ban on abortions say that doctors should not feel threatened by the bill.

Danille Turissini with the Family Policy Institution of Washington said that she used to be pro-choice until she saw an ultrasound of her son.

“That was a game-changer for me,” she said. “I decided that women should have choices, lots of choices, but not that one.”

She said it would not be a problem if a doctor told her that she couldn’t have a sex-selected abortion.

“It wouldn’t be breaching any confidentially,” Turissini said. “It would be protecting me.”

The committee took no action on the bill Tuesday.

Categories: Abortion

Students press for access to more open ed resources to keep down cost of textbooks

By | February 2, 2016 | Comments

On a day deemed “textbook day,” lawmakers considered four new bills that aim to keep down the cost of college textbooks at a hearing of the House Committee on Higher Education last week.

Some changes would be minor — changing course descriptions to include the cost of materials — while others use grants or tax incentives to encourage the use of more open educational resources on college campuses. Open educational resources are those that can downloaded by anyone and used for free — a PDF of a textbook or assignment, for example.

Supporters of the effort say the bills are necessary because students are paying around $825 a year for textbooks, according to the Washington Financial Aid Association. Some studies put that number even higher, at $1,200 a year.

Here’s a look at the bills and the testimony they received:

House Bill 2686 sponsored by Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington:

  • Encourages community and technical colleges to develop degrees or certificates that only use open educational materials. This effort would be funded by grants through the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
  • Expands and promote the Open Course Library at community colleges through grants from the State Board. Materials at the library are free or can be paired with low-cost textbooks under $30.
  • Requires community and technical colleges to revise their catalogs by fall of 2016 to show which courses use open educational materials.
  • Promotes access to open educational resources at four-year institutions through grants from the Student Achievement Council.

Melissa Gombosky with the Association of American Publishers said she was concerned about the focus of this bill as well as the others dealing with open educational resources. She said the effort would “shortchange” students by focusing on cost, not quality.

“We know that just because something is free it might not necessarily be better, and in some cases it certainly could be worse,” she said. “Our companies work hard to address the issue of quality and affordability. They compete against one and other in a very robust marketplace.”

She said textbook publishers already offer cheaper alternatives to traditional books – including digital and online options and student discount programs.

That point was later refuted by Anna Nepomuceno, the legislative liaison for Associated Students at UW Tacoma. She said that studies show a majority of professors either saw no difference in quality of the open resources or, in fact, preferred them.

House Bill 2680 sponsored by  Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup:

  • Awards up to 100 grants per year to faculty members to create or adopt free educational tools for students at four-year universities. The grants fund the creation of Open Educational Resources so students won’t have to pay for their textbooks or other class materials.
Students wait to testify at the hearing.

Students wait to testify at the hearing.

Tacoma Community College student My’kyeke Cheatham testified in favor of the bill. He said he pays for his own tuition and materials, but dropped a course recently where cost of materials would have reached $400 to $500.

Nepomuceno said this was the bill her peers were most passionate about. She said community colleges already have open educational resources programs, and it’s time for four-year colleges to have one as well.

“We pay three times the tuition rates and right now there are more low-income students going to four-year institutions,” she said. (more…)

Minimum wage bill proposed as alternative to statewide initiative

By | February 2, 2016 | Comments

A Senate committee considered a bill Monday to incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage, an effort that has mixed support in the business community and is opposed by labor groups.

Senate Bill 6087 would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour over the next four yearsPrime sponsor Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, said the bill offers a better alternative than a statewide ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage even higher.

A group called Raise Up Washington filed an initiative in January to raise the minimum wage to $13.50 over four years. If the group collects enough signatures, it will appear on the fall ballot.

Watch TVW video of the hearing here. 

Hobbs told the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee the current minimum wage “environment simply does not work.” Cities and local governments are able to do “their own thing,” he said, which leads to confusion among small business owners.

He addressed concerns that both Democrats and Republicans might have with the bill.

“Democrats and our allies, look. I know this bill doesn’t go far enough,” he said. But he told them to remember it would be the most progressive minimum wage bill in the country if adopted.

To Republicans, he acknowledged that the bill goes “too far,” but said it is something that small businesses can get behind. “I think that if an initiative were to pass, it would be far worse,” he said.

Washington’s current minimum wage is $9.47 an hour.

Safeway employee Ariana Davis sits on the board of a local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and is a member of the group backing the $13.50 ballot initiative.

She spoke in opposition to the $12 an hour incremental increase. She said that she and her co-workers struggle with low wages and not having access to paid sick leave.

“No one should fear losing their job because they or their kids get sick,” Davis said. “I also believe that no one should have to work at a job that they are dedicated to and still be unable to pay rent or afford food.”

NAACP Washington State Vice President Sheley Secrest told the committee that the minimum wage needed to be increased, but that Senate Bill 6087 was not good enough.

“This particular bill is too little, too late,” she said. “It’s not enough for people who are going to get the benefit of a minimum wage and it takes too long to really have the intended impact.”

She said an increase $13.50 would help more people across Washington.

Jen Gee testifying in opposition to SB 6087

Jan Gee testifying in opposition to SB 6087

Jan Gee represents independent grocery store owners, and said they oppose any minimum wage increase.

“At a recent board meeting and legislative visits it was described as ‘Do I want to get shot in the arm and get maimed?’ or ‘Do I want a shot direct to the heart?’” she said. “6087 is maiming off the arm of our grocers.”

However, not all small business owners agree. Some support the $12 an hour wage increase, saying its the best option.

Bruce Beckett, representative from Washington Restaurant and Lodging Association, said he prefers that the Legislature set minimum wage rather than individual cities.

“Today we have five minimum wages in the state, four different paid sick leave policies­ – all with conflicting and sometimes confusing regulatory and recording standards,” he said. “And we truly believe that this body is a place to resolve that issue.”

Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, owns a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop and Zeeks Pizza. He’s co-sponsoring the bill, which he says will ensure that there’s consistency in wages between cities. He said it will also allow small business owners raise prices slowly over the course of four years and not lose out on customers.

“I think that if you phase it in the right way, which I think we’ve tried to do in this bill, you can do small really gradual prices changes that hopefully don’t freak anybody out,” he said.

The committee on Monday also considered Senate Bill 6578 which would prevent local cities, towns and port districts from regulating wages.

Categories: Minimum Wage