State House passes, sends Senate bills to raise minimum wage to $12, require paid sick leave

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state House voted 51-46 Tuesday to raise Washington's minimum wage to $12 an hour over a four-year period.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Washington has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $9.47.

The House-passed bill would raise the minimum wage over a four-year period in a series of 50-cent hikes.

Democrats are sponsoring the legislation to help low-income workers. Business owners say it would cut profits and lead to higher prices.

Under Washington's current law, the minimum wage goes up every January with inflation. The Employment Security Department said this year's minimum wage hike affected more than 67,000 workers.

Later Tuesday, the state House passed a bill requiring many of the state's employers to offer employees paid sick leave.

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled chamber in a 51-46 party-line vote Tuesday after a short debate. It would require all businesses in the state with more than four full-time employees to give workers at least five days a year of sick and safe leave.

The leave time could be used if a worker is ill, needs to care for a sick family member, or to deal with dangerous conditions at home or work.

Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, who sponsored the bill, said over a million workers in Washington currently do not have any paid sick leave at their jobs.

The bill next moves to the Senate for consideration.


Gov. Jay Inslee, who watched the state House vote on the minimum wage in person, issued this statement afterward:

“Today the House passed two modest, measured and much-needed bills to give an economic lift to thousands of Washington’s lowest-wage workers.

"I’ve always believed that a person who is willing and able to work hard for 40 hours a week should be able to provide the most basic needs for themselves and their families. Washington’s economy is recovering, but it is leaving behind an increasing number of low- and middle-income workers. An increase in the state minimum wage and paid sick and safe leave for all workers are good steps toward restoring a degree of economic security for those who need it most.

“I hope the Senate will act on these bills and follow the House’s leadership in building an economy that works for all Washingtonians.”