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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Politics Swirl Around Labor-Backed Minimum Wage, Sick Leave Policies


Paid sick leave and a boost in the minimum wage are among the top priorities of organized labor in Washington state this year.

Democrats in the legislature have embraced both ideas. But Republicans and business interests remain wary. Adding to the politics is the fact Seattle has already adopted these policies.

It can easily be painted that, ‘what’s good for Seattle isn’t good for the rest of the state.’ Many outside of Seattle will view this is as Seattle trying to big-foot its idea of utopia onto the rest of the state. That could be a negative for those who think that these are the right policies for all of Washington.

On the other hand, business interests also want some changes to the state’s minimum wage law -- like allowing for a teen training wage. That could open the door for compromise on the issue.

If the Washington legislature doesn’t act this year, both the minimum wage and paid sick leave are issues that could end up on Washington’s 2016 ballot.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."