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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."

Washington Senate Republicans Hold Hearing On $12 Minimum Wage

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Washington Senate chamber

Two of the highest priority issues for Washington House Democrats are a $12 per hour minimum wage and paid sick leave.

Monday, Senate Republicans held a public hearing on both.

It’s not likely the Republican-led Washington Senate will embrace either of these measures. But they got a courtesy hearing.

The minimum wage proposal would boost Washington’s base wage to $12 per hour by 2019. Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moons Ice Cream in Seattle, supports the minimum wage hike and said it would put more money into the pockets of consumers.

“The more money they have the more ice cream they buy,” Neitzel said. “And I ask you to consider that.”

But other business owners voiced opposition. JoReen Brinkman owns Subway sandwich shops in Pullman and Colfax.

“My consumers can go right across the border to Idaho. The prices are lower,” Brinkman said. “They’re college kids, they like spending their money where it’s cheaper and it’s cheaper across the border.”

Idaho’s minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Washington’s is $9.47 and Oregon’s is $9.25. Minimum wage measures have been introduced in all three state legislatures this year.

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."