Following in the footsteps of City Council member Kshama Sawant, Jess Spear, the 15Now campaign leader, announced her candidacy against speaker of the state house, Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford) this week.
(Before winning her city council race against Richard Conlin last year, Sawant made a run at Chopp in 2012; Chopp won handily with 70.63 percent of the vote, but Sawant and her party have since established themselves as a political force in town—particularly in Chopp's district, where Sawant rocked the vote in her city council race, getting as much as 70 percent in the denser parts of Capitol Hill. )
Spear said one of her major issues will be passing a $15 minimum wage statewide. It's a potent issue in the district, and one that highlights a big Democratic flop last session: After Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee called for a minimum wage increase in his state of the state speech this year, and then after Seattle-area Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-46, N. Seattle) introduced a $12.50 minimum wage bill, Speaker Chopp weirdly didn't bring the bill to the floor in the liberal house.
For today's PubliCola One Question, we asked Rep. Chopp this: Given the recent success of the Socialist Alternative Party in Seattle, particularly in the 43rd where $15 minimum wage hero Sawant cleaned up last November, do you regret not moving Rep. Farrell's minimum wage bill to the floor earlier this year?
Here's what Rep. Chopp told us:
I am encouraged that these issues are being covered and appreciate the attention that measures to help the middle class are getting.
Throughout my career I have been an advocate of a living wage for Washington’s workers. I am a citizen activist and was a leader in the initiative that raised Washington State’s minimum wage to the highest in the nation—the first tied to cost of living. I have been a vocal supporter of the efforts to enact a $15 minimum wage in SeaTac and in the City of Seattle and have always considered myself a champion of working people.
My goal is to pass an increased statewide minimum wage for Washington workers and families. I am actively working with my colleagues in the Legislature, labor leaders in the state, community members and other stakeholders to ensure the passage of a statewide minimum wage bill.
This year, we made real progress by passing the bill out of committee, and worked hard to gather the votes needed to pass the proposal from the House floor. Unfortunately the proposed plan did not have sufficient support to pass at that time. I support Rep. Farrell’s minimum wage bill and did not want to have it fail on the floor and hurt its long-term prospects of becoming law.
I am encouraged by our progress and look forward to working with coalition members to move our state forward on this important issue next year. This past year I was extremely proud that we successfully garnered the votes to pass historic Paid Sick Leave and Wage Theft legislation after coming up short in the 2013 session.
Legislation doesn’t always happen the first session it is introduced but I pride myself on my ability to bring people together around progressive ideals and move our state forward to ensure opportunity for all.
The Democratic house also failed to pass then-state Rep. Jamie Pedersen's (D-43, Capitol Hill) gun control legislation in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook in 2013.
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