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State Senate committee hears testimony on House-passed bill that would raise minimum wage to $12

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OLYMPIA — A state Senate committee listened to two hours of testimony Monday from bill sponsors, business owners and workers regarding three controversial measures on the minimum wage, gender-equality pay and paid sick leave.

Nicholas Powell currently makes the minimum wage. He and others say the pay is not enough to get by.

Powell said, “It’s been a real struggle. It’s been difficult trying to go to school and work a full-time, stressful job like that.”

House Bill 1355 would raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2019. Even sponsors admit this modest pay raise is not a living wage.

A sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jessyn Farrell, D-Seattle, said, "It’s pretty hard to make ends meet and the goal of this bill is modest but to put a little more money in the pocket of workers so you can go get your car fixed or the dentist or do what you need to do to make your ends meet."

Some business owners support the bill but others claim it will force them to shut their doors.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, says he hears from business owners that worry about the bill passing.

"I think there is a common interest in trying to help people have a better living. I think there’s a lot of concern about doing things to our wage and labor market here that would have people lose jobs," Baumgartner said.

A Senate committee will vote Wednesday on House Bill 1355 and other measures dealing with equal gender pay and paid sick leave.

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