One Question for GOP State Senator John Braun
One question about local control for Republican state senator John Braun.
Historically the Republican Party has been the flag bearer of smaller government, AKA local control.
Many Republican positions here in Washington state fall right in line with this principle, like their opposition to top-down environmental guidelines. State Senator John Braun (R-20, Centralia) is sponsoring a bill that is tailor-made to fly in the face of this ideal by preventing any local (city, county, or Port) ordinances regarding minimum wage laws.
We asked Sen. Braun, chair of the senate's trade and economic development committee and vice chair of the senate's commerce and labor Committee, about this seeming contradiction:
One Question: Generally Republicans have been in favor of local control; for example, a top legislative priority for your party in Olympia is have counties decide their own growth management standards in defiance of the state’s Growth Management Act. How do you square your bill, which would preempt local wage standards, with these GOP priorities?
Sen. Braun: "I would say that I’m a big fan of local control, but not everything can be solved locally. The issue of minimum wage is complex; jobs are very interconnected to the economy. Jobs don’t stop at jurisdictional boundaries, and we run a real risk of making our already complex business environment more complex, destroying jobs and working at cross-purposes. If we really want to work on wage inequality and work on poverty we should be looking at jobs. We shouldn’t be making the world more complex, we should be making it less complex.
"I do think this issue deserves a discussion, but I think that it needs to be done at the state level. Let me give you an example: If you can drive from one side of the Puget Sound region to the other side and cross a dozen different jurisdictional boundaries, if you’re a delivery company and at some point in the future we do this individually and you have a dozen different wages, how do you process that payroll? It’s very complex. If you’re an employee, how do you know when you’re getting paid what? This is an important issue. I don’t dispute that, and I don’t disagree with Seattle’s or SeaTac’s or Centralia’s right to local control, but I do think that when issues cut across jurisdictional boundaries they deserve a state-wide approach and that’s why I have that bill."
Given that Sen. Braun uses an example of a delivery truck criss-crossing the state to dramatize when state needs should trump local jurisdictions, we wondered if he'd stand by the GOP's "Stick-it-to-Seattle" demand that Seattle pick up any cost overruns on the waterfront tunnel, a state road that helps connect economic jurisdictions. Braun's staffer told us Braun wasn't ready to make a call on that issue one way or the other just yet, saying he needed more information on the tricky topic.