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House passes bill aimed at lowering gender wage gap

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ The Washington House has passed a bill that seeks to reduce the wage gap between men and women and prohibit employers from assigning less favorable employment opportunities to women because of their gender.

The measure passed Wednesday on a 56-41 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1646 would also ban employers from retaliating against an employee for asking about their wages or the salary of other employees, among other practices.

The right for women to have salaries equal to men in comparable jobs is already protected under current civil rights law, said lawmakers opposed to the bill in a floor debate before the vote. Advocates of thebill said existing law doesn’t go far enough to protect women from making less money than men.