Afternoon Jolt

Monday Jolt: State GOP Tries to Undo SeaTac, Preempt Seattle on Minimum Wage

State senate Republicans introduce bill to undo local control of wage laws.

By Afternoon Jolt January 20, 2014

Republicans are typically gung ho about preserving local control: Fiscal conservatives oppose state regulations mandating local land use guidelines and other supposed social engineering edicts about buses and bike lanes while social conservatives disapprove of top-down rulings on gay marriage and greenhouse gases.

However, six Republican state senators introduced a bill today that thumbs its nose at local control: Trade and Economic Development Committee Chair Sen. John Braun's (R-20, Centralia) bill would prevent towns, cities, counties, and port districts—call it the undo SeaTac bill or the preempt Seattle bill—from passing ordinances or popular measures regulating wages, hours, leave, and retention of employees at private companies. In other words: No local minimum wage laws.

You could also call it the undo Seattle law because it would also rescind Seattle's paid sick leave law. The senate actually passed a law last year that would have overturned Seattle's paid sick leave law—known as the Burger King exemption, the bill would have allowed businesses headquartered outside of Seattle to ignore Seattle wage ordinances. The Democratic house tabled the bill. 

We have a message in to Sen. Braun.

For a Democratic perspective, SeaTac-area state Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines) calls the GOP legislation "incredibly disrespectful of citizens' right to govern themselves." And she speculated that the law may take away the right of local initiatives. Keiser said the state is allowed to set minimum rules—on environmental standards and wage rules—but that, just as with the federal/state balance, local governments have the power to improve those standards. 


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