A court challenge to the state’s new minimum wage and paid sick leave law has been rebuffed by a Kittitas County Superior Court judge.
A court challenge to the state’s new minimum wage and paid sick-leave law has been rebuffed.
Kittitas County Superior Court Judge Scott Sparks on Thursday denied a motion by the Washington Retail Federation, Washington Farm Bureau and other trade groups to void Initiative 1433, passed by Washington voters last November.
Sparks wrote in a letter accompanying his ruling that he tries to adhere to the “bedrock principle” that judges should not interfere with laws enacted by the people, whether through referenda or elected officials, unless there is a clear legal necessity. That means plaintiffs have to prove the unconstitutionality of a law beyond a reasonable doubt, he wrote.
In this case, “plaintiffs have failed to establish that I-1433 has violated the Washington State constitution in any manner,” Sparks wrote in the letter to attorneys in the case.
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Tony Malandra, a spokesman with the National Federation of Independent Business — one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said his organization was “discussing the next steps with the coalition.”
I-1433 raises the state’s minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020, and requires paid sick leave for employees.
The first pay jump occurred in January, raising the minimum wage from $9.47 to $11 an hour.
The plaintiffs, which also include the Northwest Food Processors Association, Washington Food Industry Association, and three businesses in Kittitas and Chelan counties, challenged the initiative’s legalityin February. A hearing was held April 21.
The plaintiffs contended I-1433 violates the state constitution because it includes more than one subject matter: both minimum wage and sick leave.
They also said the title of the initiative inadequately described the contents of the measure, and that the initiative added to sick-leave laws without properly identifying the existing laws it was amending.
In his letter, Sparks sided with the state, saying that I-1433 was about labor standards generally, which both minimum wage and paid sick leave fall under.
He also said that a title of a bill “need not be an index to the contents” but rather, give a general idea of the scope and purpose of the measure.
Sparks also said mandatory paid sick leave was a new category of employee-leave law so was exempt from the requirement that the law being amended had to be set forth in full.