laurie jinkins.jpg
Rep. Laurie Jinkins
Well, touché.

In a move described as "largely symbolic" by the Capital Record blog , a group of House Democrats - led


House Dems Make Symbolic Statement with 'Training Wage' Bill for Freshman Legislators

laurie jinkins.jpg
Rep. Laurie Jinkins
Well, touché.

In a move described as "largely symbolic" by the Capital Record blog, a group of House Democrats - led by Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett) - yesterday announced plans to introduce legislation that would create a "training wage" for freshmen members of the state Legislature. The bill would also withhold pay when a lawmaker misses work because of illness. Why, you ask? The effort comes as a biting rebuttal to efforts championed by Senate Republicans to allow some employers to pay a portion of employees a wage set at 75 percent of the state's minimum wage, and also in response to recent efforts to repeal sick-leave legislation like Seattle's.

In addition to Sells, Reps. Sheryi Appleton (D-Poulsbo), Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane), and Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) are backing the "symbolic" legislation. While Jinkins tells Seattle Weekly none of the lawmakers are likely to expend much effort pushing the bill, she says she does expect Sells to officially file it.

According to Jinkins, the idea behind the proposal - which was announced during a press conference Tuesday - is to "point out what the Republican Senate is trying to do," to working families ... and to make the message hit close to home. "This is what it would look like here," say Jinkins of the training wage included in the symbolic legislation.

"I think there's a stark difference," says Jinkins of the objectives of Democrats in the House as opposed to their Republican counterparts in the Senate. "We House Democrats are really focused on working families and expanding the middle class. The Republican leadership in the Senate is trying to roll back the minimum wage and do things that are really destructive to the middle class."

Specifically, House Bill 1150 would create a "training wage" set at 75 percent of the minimum wage for employers with less than 50 workers to utilize. This training wage -$6.89 an hour, for those playing at home - would be available for use during an employee's first 680 hours. The idea behind the bill, apparently, is to help small businesses hire unemployed teenagers.

"I believe it is reasonable. I want a solution to this problem because it has gotten very serious," the bill's sponsor, Re. Cary Condotta (R- East Wenatchee) recently told the House Committee on Labor and Workforce - speaking of the scourge of unemployed teenagers.

Jinkins, however, says the idea of ostensibly lowering the minimum wage at a time when so many families are already struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their head is unacceptable. She also struggles to see the benefit for the state in allowing businesses to hire cheaper - presumably teenage - work at the expense of more experienced workers already toiling at minimum wage jobs.

"It just doesn't make sense," says Jinkins of the rationale employed by supporters of HB 1150. "I don't really get the logic."

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