Minimum wage is an important discussion, but it should happen at the state level, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said this week.
He’s sponsoring Senate Bill 6307, which would prohibit cities and counties from enacting laws to regulate minimum wage, hours and other private-employee considerations.
The bill would not set a minimum wage but would reserve that action for the state.
“We’re already way too complex when it comes to the way our businesses must operate,” Braun said. State lawmakers should decide minimum wage, he said, “because when you toss that out there, all you’re doing is adding to the complexity of business.”
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“We’ve seen the minimum-wage discussion grow over the course of the last year,” Braun said. “A lot of folks are reasonably concerned about what this does to their businesses or jobs.”
The bill would pre-empt the SeaTac minimum-wage initiative and similar actions being discussed in Seattle.
Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, is co-sponsoring the bill with four others. She’s chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, which held a hearing on the bill Wednesday.
Braun said while there’s a good chance of Senate passage, the bill is not likely to have much support in the House, which is controlled by the Democrats.
The committee will hold another hearing for the bill at 8 a.m. Friday.
Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Clark testified at the hearing Wednesday. While the state minimum is sufficient in some areas, $9.32 an hour isn’t the same in Seattle and Chehalis, she said.
“Cities should be able to decide wages appropriate for the community,” she said in an interview.
The bill also would void Seattle’s 2011 mandatory paid sick-leave ordinance — though the House on Wednesday passed a similar measure — and stall efforts to increase the minimum wage in the city.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray appointed an advisory committee, which includes Councilmembers Bruce Harrell, Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant, to study income inequality. Clark is part of the city’s regular minimum-wage committee.
Minimum wage has been a prevailing issue this legislative session. Gov. Jay Inslee in his State of the State speech proposed a statewide minimum wage increase of $1.50 to $2.50 an hour.
House Democrats last week proposed a nearly 30 percent increase in the state minimum wage, to $12 an hour, by 2017.
Braun and Holmquist Newbry were also part of a news conference Wednesday to launch Republican bills aimed at creating jobs.
“What we’re trying to do here at the state level is reduce the cost of doing business,” Holmquist Newbry said about the Republican “JobsNow!” Agenda. “We know that’s going to increase our competitiveness nationwide and globally as well as improve our business climate.”
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, wants to restore a rural tax program with House Bill 2204. He said small businesses should receive the same assistance as big business, citing Boeing tax incentives.
“If we were going to take such efforts to save the Goliath of our state, then we should take equal efforts to save all the little Davids,” he said.
Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, spoke at the conference. She’s pushing Senate Bill 6137, which would require the Department of Labor and Industries to conduct wage surveys using a “random sampling methodology” to calculate the prevailing rate of wage.
She’s also pushing bills to promote job growth in cosmetology.
The Senate on Wednesday passed Senate Bill 5970 — sponsored by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County — to remove barriers for veterans to find civilian jobs by recognizing military training and experience.