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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."

Minimum Wage Fight May Heat Up In Olympia


The battle over Washington’s minimum wage could soon heat up at the Capitol. House Democrats may roll out a proposal as early as this week to increase the state’s base wage.

It’s currently the highest in the nation at $9.32 an hour. But don’t expect the measure to pass this year.

This seems like an election-year issue for Democrats because Democrats have control of the House and there is a Democrat in the Governor's Mansion. But there is also a mostly Republican majority in the state Senate.

What you’re seeing is labor and Democrats teeing up an issue that is ripe for the election season and also something that if they have the long game in view, they may be working down here for the next few years.

We may see a counter proposal from Republicans and the business community. Their idea is to limit local governments from imposing a higher minimum wage than the state.

Last fall, voters in Sea-Tac narrowly approved a $15 per hour base wage. And there’s talk of something similar in the city of Seattle.

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."