Washington State House Democrats


Mid-session update: House passes legislation boosting minimum wage, equal pay, sick leave

OLYMPIA—At the beginning of the year, lawmakers had introduced thousands of ideas.

Now that the legislative session is more than half over, it’s clear what ideas are still alive and have a chance of becoming law.

“Jobs, education and transportation are still the big issues,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline). “Solutions for our families and neighborhoods can come from reforms and policy changes, or by money in the budget. I’m happy to say key reforms have passed the House and are still alive.”

Among those key reforms that passed the House:

A Fair Minimum Wage—Nobody who works a full-time job should be in poverty. House Bill 1355 raises the minimum wage 50 cents a year until it reaches $12 in 2019, then adjusts for inflation after that, per an initiative passed by the voters.

Sick and Safe Leave—Many workers don’t have a single day of sick leave, including the majority of workers in restaurants, which puts everybody at risk of catching contagious diseases. Workers have even been fired to taking a sick day or to take care of their child. House Bill 1356 lets workers take time off when they’re ill or injured, or to seek legal and law enforcement help if there’s a safety issue.

Equal Pay for Equal Work—More than 70 years after Washington state passed an equal pay law, women still make less than men for doing the same job.  House Bill 1646 updates the law and protects workers who ask or talk about salaries from being fired.

The House also passed four measures by Ryu, each one co-sponsored by Republicans and passed on strong bipartisan votes.

Protecting Your Property, Part 1—In this age of text messages and email, relying on regular mail could be an obsolete strategy for many who are on the move or relocating. House Bill 1043 lets owners of storage units send email notifications to renters of storage units when they’re behind on their storage payments. Right now, your possessions could be sold off to pay the bill and you might not know. This legislation allows you to opt in for email notifications.  The bill passed 96-1.

Protecting Your Property, Part 2—House Bill 1551 also protects your belongings, reforming our unclaimed property laws. It passed 98-0. Be sure to check claimyourcash.org for yourself and family members. We want to reunite you with your money and assets.

Attacking Human Trafficking—Human trafficking is the modern version of slavery. House Bill 1651 adds to the definition of human trafficking to include forced labor and debt bondage. It passed 97-0.

Modernizing Credit Unions—More and more consumers are using credit unions instead of banks, boosting competition and pushing both industries to offer better services. House Bill 1871 improves how credit unions are governed and allows them to invest more broadly in service organizations that offer things credit unions can’t give members such as data processing, collections and financial counseling.

If you’re curious about a piece of legislation, you can look up any bill in the House or Senate at https://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ — or if you want to share a comment, question or idea, send an email to cindy.ryu@leg.wa.gov or call the Hotline at 800-562-6000.