Paid Family Leave – Washington

Paid family and medical leave fast tracked through Legislature, By Jim Camden, July 3, 2017, Spokesman-Review: “Late Friday night, with great emotion but relatively little fanfare, the Legislature moved Washington into the forefront among states that provide financial help to parents after childbirth or when a family member is seriously ill or dying. In strong bipartisan votes, the House and Senate moved quickly to approve a state-regulated program for paid family and medical leave…”

Minimum Wage – Seattle, WA

Latest study: Seattle’s wage law lifted restaurant pay without shrinking jobs, By Janet I. Tu, June 20, 2017, Seattle Times: “Seattle’s minimum-wage law has led to higher pay for restaurant workers without affecting the overall number of jobs in the industry, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley. Indeed, employment in food service from 2015 to 2016 was not affected, ‘even among the limited-service restaurants, many of them franchisees, for whom the policy was most binding,’ according to the study, led by Berkeley economics professor Michael Reich…”

Section 8 Housing – Seattle, WA

Section 8 tenants flee Seattle’s high rents, compete for housing in smaller cities, By Vernal Coleman, November 18, 2016, Seattle Times: “On a recent Saturday morning, Elmika James settled into a couch inside the subsidized, three-bedroom apartment she fears she could soon lose and began searching for a new home.  She scoured housing websites on her phone, looking over listings friendly to participants in the federal Housing Choice voucher program, otherwise known as Section 8.  Many of the listings were old, the apartments advertised already rented. Others were scams. Some property managers have told her flatly they did not accept the vouchers at all.  James, a 43-year-old UPS package handler and mother of five, said rejection has become part of her daily routine. And she’s not alone…”

Minimum Wage Increase – Seattle, WA

Why raising the minimum wage in Seattle did little to help workers, according to a new study, By Max Ehrenfreund, July 29, 2016, Washington Post: “Things seem to be going pretty well since Seattle bumped the hourly minimum wage for large businesses up to $11 last year, from the statewide minimum of $9.47 an hour. Low-wage workers are getting more time on the job and making more money. Fewer businesses are closing, and more new ones are opening. The technology and construction sectors are booming. Even the weather cooperated for a change. The spring was unusually dry in Seattle, which was good for the city’s fishing fleet.  Yet the actual benefits to workers might have been minimal, according to a group of economists whom the city commissioned to study the minimum wage and who presented their initial findings last week…”

Homelessness in Seattle, WA

  • Seattle may try San Francisco’s ‘radical hospitality’ for homeless, By Daniel Beekman, June 11, 2016, Seattle Times: “Denise and Michael were relaxing on a sunny Friday afternoon.  She sat on their bed in pajamas, folding laundry, while he roughhoused with their friend’s pit bull. Soul standards were blaring from a boombox.  There was something homey about the scene, even though the couple were homeless. Denise and Michael were inside San Francisco’s Navigation Center, an experimental shelter where guests come and go as they please and where pets, partners and possessions are welcome…”
  • Houston’s solution to the homeless crisis: Housing — and lots of it, By Daniel Beekman, June 13, 2016, Seattle Times: “Anthony Humphrey slept on the pavement outside a downtown Houston drop-in center. Except when a Gulf Coast rainstorm slammed the city — then he took cover under a storefront awning or below Interstate 45.  He had no driver’s license, no Social Security card, almost no hope. That was in 2014. This month, Humphrey will celebrate a year in his apartment…”

Minimum Wage

  • $12 vs. $15 minimum-wage debate continues between economists, experts, politicians, By Olivera Perkins, January 7, 2016, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Go to any minimum wage rally in the past few years, and there is one number dominating the event: $15. It’s scrawled on the bouncing placards held by rally goers. Emblazoned on their banners. Laced through their chants.  But many economists and other think tank experts, even those supporting a substantial hike to the federal minimum wage, are questioning if $15 is too high. For many of them, $12 is more realistic or probable, especially if it is phased-in by 2020…”
  • Some businesses say Nebraska’s $9 minimum wage will be a burden, but others just shrug, By Janice Podsada, January 6, 2016, Omaha World-Herald: “The sometimes rough-and-tumble job of refereeing ’25 to 75 large dogs at serious play’ now pays $9 an hour at an Omaha doggie day care facility, but that’s just to start. If new employees work out, ‘they’ll see their pay raised to $10 an hour after a few weeks,’ said Renee Johnson, owner of ComeSitStay, a dog day care and overnight boarding facility at 180th and Harrison Streets. On Jan. 1, Nebraska’s minimum wage leapt to $9 an hour for nontipped workers from $8 in 2015, a 12.5 percent increase…”
  • Push begins to increase Oregon minimum wage, By Ed Russo, January 8, 2016, Register-Guard: “With the Legislature preparing to convene, activists say they are launching a signature-gathering drive to increase Oregon’s minimum wage within two years to $13.50 an hour.  The Portland-based Raise the Wage Coalition said Thursday that it will ‘hit the streets in communities across the state’ to collect the 89,000 signatures required to put Initiative Petition 58 on the November ballot.  If approved by voters, the measure would raise the statewide minimum hourly wage to $13.50 by 2018…”
  • Oregon, Washington slide as leaders in minimum wage, By Jeff Mapes, January 7, 2016, Oregon Public Broadcasting: “After a decade of mandating the highest minimum wages in the country, Washington and Oregon are now dropping back in the pack. Six other states jumped past Washington and Oregon – which had been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 since 2005 – at the start of the new year, thanks largely to efforts in several legislatures around the country to raise the wage floor for workers…”

Court Fines and the Poor – Washington

Poor offenders must be asked if they can afford to pay fines, state Supreme Court says, By Mike Carter, March 12, 2015, Seattle Times: “The state Supreme Court, citing the burden imposed on poor defendants by uncollectable court fees and fines, has reiterated that judges must ask about a defendant’s ability to pay so-called ‘legal financial obligations’ (LFO), and not impose them if they can’t be paid.  The justices found the state’s LFO system ‘carries problematic consequences’ for poor offenders, can impede their ability to re-enter society and can contribute to recidivism.   The high court sent two cases back to Pierce County for resentencing based on findings that sentencing judges, at the prosecutor’s request, imposed costs, fees and fines of more than $3,300 in one instance and $2,200 in another without first determining whether either man could pay…”

Foster Care – Spokane, WA

  • Fixing foster care: ‘Where do I belong?’, By Jody Lawrence-Turner, October 19, 2014, Spokane Spokesman-Review: “Alkala Michener’s green eyes pool with tears as she recalls the night she lost her family: She was 7 years old, dressed in a Cinderella pink nightie, her lace-rimmed socks soaked and muddied as she ran away with her big brothers. A social worker found the children wet and desperate to find their dad, running along a stretch of a north Spokane highway. The siblings were split up. Alkala went to a Newman Lake foster home and wouldn’t see her brothers again until they knocked on her door eight years later. ‘For years, I had the impression (my family) didn’t want me,’ she said. Her story is all too common in Spokane County, where children are pulled from their families at three times the rate of those in King County…”
  • Fixing Foster Care: Fostering stability, By Jody Lawrence-Turner, October 20, 2014, Spokane Spokesman-Review: “As Diana Stegner lay in a hospital bed, alone, homeless and suicidal, she acknowledged her newborn son would be better off with someone else. Within hours Michelle Trotz cradled baby William as she welcomed him into her home. Trotz and her husband, David, first became foster parents four years ago. They wanted to help babies who needed them. Their home is among more than 500 across Spokane County licensed to care for children taken from their parents. Communities need foster homes because ‘we live in a broken society,’ said Linda Rogers, a former foster care recruiter who got the Trotzes involved. Foster parents are the backbone — some say heroes — of a system tasked with the toughest of jobs: caring for the children of broken homes…”
  • Spokane area agencies prioritize fixing family relationships, rather than traditional foster care routes, By Jody Lawrence-Turner, October 21, 2014, Spokane Spokesman-Review: “Sometimes children are best left in ‘bad’ homes. Evidence is pouring in that keeping families together – even those deemed dysfunctional – is less harmful than pulling them apart. It’s a U-turn in thinking and practice for child advocates, as new programs emerge with the aim of keeping children in their homes while fixing families…”

State Minimum Wage Increases

  • NJ’s minimum wage rising in January by 13 cents, By Michael Symons, September 30, 2014, Vineland Daily Journal‎: “New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase by 13 cents an hour, starting in January. The 1.59 percent increase, from $8.25 an hour to $8.38, is required under a constitutional amendment approved by 61 percent of voters last November that raised the mimimum wage by $1 and provided for automatic yearly increases to keep pace with inflation. It amounts to less than $20 a month for a minimum-wage worker putting in 35 hours a week, or almost $240 over the course of the year…”
  • Minimum wage to rise to $8.10 for Ohio workers in 2015, up 15 cents, By Robert Higgs, September 30, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio’s minimum wage will increase to $8.10 an hour for non-tipped employees beginning Jan. 1, an increase of 15 cents triggered by inflation. The current rate of $7.95 has been in effect since the beginning of this year…”
  • Washington’s minimum wage going up again to $9.47, tops in the U.S., By Brad Shannon, September 30, 3014, Tacoma News Tribune: “Washington’s minimum wage will go up by 15 cents to $9.47 an hour, affecting more than 67,000 workers, the state Department of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday. That keeps the state rate highest in the country on a statewide basis, although some jurisdictions such as Seattle and SeaTac have adopted laws to set higher rates. Oregon’s rate, which is the second highest, goes up 15 cents to $9.25 next year, Labor & Industries said in a news release…”

ACA and Medicaid Coverage

  • Progress, challenges as Medicaid rolls swell in state, By Lisa Stiffler, April 17, 2014, Seattle Times: “Washington state has blown past its targets for signing up new Medicaid participants under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The program’s ranks have grown roughly 25 percent in the past six months, helping fulfill one of the act’s key goals to provide health care to nearly all Americans. By the end of March, more than 285,000 adults who are newly eligible to participate in Medicaid had signed up for coverage. That’s twice the number officials had hoped to reach by then, and a target they hadn’t expected to hit for three more years. But with enrollment success comes the challenge of serving more people in a $10 billion program that’s already stretched thin in places…”
  • Health law push brings thousands into Colo. Medicaid who were already eligible, By Eric Whitney, April 16, 2014, Washington Post: “The big marketing push to get people enrolled in health coverage between October and March resulted in 3 million people signing up for Medicaid. Hundreds of thousands of those people were already eligible and could have signed up even before the Affordable Care Act made it much more generous. They came ‘out of the woodwork’ to get enrolled, analysts say, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and publicity around its new marketplaces. In Colorado, nearly 23,000 such people are now getting Medicaid. Their numbers grew Colorado’s Medicaid rolls by 3 percent over last year…”

Basic Food Employment and Training Program – Washington

Off food stamps and employed — with taxpayers’ help, By Kyung M. Song, May 28, 2013, Seattle Times: “Dede O’Loughlin’s mother dropped out of high school and got by on food stamps. Then O’Loughlin herself became that mother to her three sons. O’Loughlin, a 40-year-old single parent from North Seattle, wanted to break the pattern for her children. And thanks to that very food-stamp program, she likely will. O’Loughlin is among thousands of Washington residents who, since 2005, have gone from collecting public assistance to collecting paychecks — a switch footed by taxpayers. She took advantage of help offered by Basic Food, the state’s food-stamp program, to target a career and train for it. For O’Loughlin, that job was as family-service coordinator at Seattle Children’s, a position that pays roughly double the minimum wage. Now Congress may replicate the state’s Basic Food Employment & Training program elsewhere around the nation…”

Dental Assistance Programs

  • Dental clinic offers affordable relief for Medicaid users, uninsured, By Pia Hallenberg, January 3, 2013, The Spokesman-Review: “The quiet at the Riverstone Family Dental Clinic on a recent Monday morning was like the quiet before a storm. At least that’s what the people behind the IDEA Clinic, located at Riverstone Family Health Center at the Northeast Community Center, were hoping. ‘There will be more patients this afternoon,’ said Dr. John Wesley, IDEA Clinic director. ‘But, yes, we need to get some cheeks in the seats.’ IDEA stands for Inland Dental Expanded Access Clinic, a clinic for uninsured or underinsured patients staffed by volunteer dentists, and it opens this month. Wesley has been there since November, and the clinic is so new it still smells more like paint than dental office…”
  • Ohio clinic tackles Appalachian dental needs, underscoring a top unmet health need in state, By Misti Crane, January 2, 2013, Toledo Blade: “Ohio — Some of the adult patients at the Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic didn’t see a dentist once during childhood. Children as young as 5 have had to have all their baby teeth pulled. Patients in their 20s sometimes need dentures.Often they only go to the clinic because the pain won’t relent and keeps them from sleeping or working. The Marietta clinic is run by the Washington County Health Department and is a rarity in Appalachia: a dentist’s office that cares for Medicaid patients and those with no insurance who pay on a sliding scale according to income.For most of them, that means about $30 an appointment, office manager Karita Miller said. It is considered a shining example of good in a region that is home to many without the money and resources to take care of their teeth.These problems aren’t unique to one region of the state.Dental care is the top unmet health need in Ohio. The problems are amplified in Appalachia, where children have an almost 60 percent higher rate of tooth decay and about half of working-age adults don’t have dental insurance…”
  • Children’s Hospital assists families with low-cost health insurance, January 2, 2013, Crestview News Bulletin: “Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart is helping families enroll their children in low-cost health insurance through Florida KidCare. Sacred Heart will provide personal assistance to parents, grandparents and guardians in understanding their options and assisting them to enroll in the Florida KidCare program. A community health worker is available to help families in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Florida ranks third in the U.S. for the number of uninsured children, with more than 500,000 young lives without coverage…”

Kids Living in Poverty in U.S.

  •  More Tri-City kids living in poverty, new report shows, By Michelle Dupler of the Tri-City Herald, December 13, 2012, The Bellingham Herald: “New U.S. Census Bureau numbers show that more than one-third of Franklin County children lived in poverty in 2011 — and that’s up from about one-fourth in the previous year. The census bureau, as part of its Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates program, released a new set of poverty estimates Wednesday showing that 832 counties nationwide — or 26 percent — saw an increase in poverty from 2007-11 that couldn’t be explained away by the statistical margin of error…”
  • In many Maine schools, one-fifth of students in poverty, By North Cairn, December 13, 2012, Morning Sentinel: “About one in five students in many schools in Maine are living in poverty, according to statistics released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. That figure holds true across the country, the report found. Last year — the period from which the report’s data was taken — there were 53.8 million school-age children in more than 13,500 school districts. Nearly half lived in communities with school district poverty rates greater than 20 percent…”
  • Sarasota poverty rate drops, but it’s still high, By Zac Anderson, December 12, 2012, Herald Tribune: “After moving dramatically in the wrong direction for three straight years, two leading economic indicators — poverty and household income — began to level off across Florida in 2011 and even improved in Sarasota County, according to new U.S. census data. The data is further evidence that Florida’s economy hit bottom around 2010 and is slowly improving. But poverty is still at, or near, record highs across much of the state in a recovery that has been uneven…”

States and Medicaid Expansion

  • Montana could add 50K to Medicaid if program is expanded, By Mike Dennison, August 21, 2012, The Missoulian: “If Montana expands Medicaid as allowed under federal health care reform, about 50,000 low-income Montanans will be added to the program starting in 2014 – and the cost and benefits are difficult to predict, experts told a legislative panel Monday. The cost to the state could range anywhere from $30 million to $118 million a year by 2020, the experts said. But they also said covering 50,000 people who currently don’t have health insurance will have positive impacts for the state, such as reducing the amount of ‘uncompensated care’ now paid for by hospitals, and bringing hundreds of millions of federal dollars into the state…”
  • State officials seek to greatly expand Medicaid, By Marissa Harshman, August 19, 2012, The Columbian: “The outlook for Washington’s medically uninsured population may be a bit rosier by 2014, particularly for the more than 300,000 low-income people who may find themselves eligible for the state’s Medicaid rolls. But the desired expansion comes with a hefty price tag for the federal government, potential risk for the state and new concern for health care providers already stretched to care for current Medicaid patients. The Medicaid program currently serves about 1.2 million people in Washington. In the last several years, as the state’s purse strings tightened, the medical program for low-income residents has faced cuts to provider reimbursement rates and services. Still, the state is moving forward with its implementation of federal health care reform and expansion of Medicaid enrollment, adding about 330,000 more Washingtonians to the program, with the expectation that the federal government will pay the lion’s share of the cost to cover new enrollees…”
  • GOP govs: Not enough Medicaid ‘flexibility’, By J.K. Wall, August 20, 2012, Indianapolis Business Journal: “The Obama administration is giving states like Indiana a little flexibility in how to expand their Medicaid programs-but nothing like what state officials hoped for after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the health reform law in late June. The law calls for all states to expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs to include adults earnings as much as 138 percent of the federal poverty limit. Indiana’s current limit for adults is just 24 percent of the federal poverty limit. But the Supreme Court, in its June 28 ruling upholding the law, said the states can opt out of the expansion without losing all federal funding for their Medicaid programs…”

States and Medicaid Expansion – Ohio, Washington

  • State’s poorest could be left without health insurance if Medicaid expansion is rejected, By Catherine Candisky, July 30, 2012, Columbus Dispatch: “If Gov. John Kasich decides against expanding the state’s Medicaid program, more than 600,000 of the poorest Ohioans could remain without health insurance while those with slightly higher incomes would qualify for subsidies and tax credits to buy private coverage. The potential gap was created last month when the U.S. Supreme Court, while upholding most of the federal health-care law, tossed a requirement that states expand Medicaid or face federal sanctions. The health-care overhaul was designed to cover about half of uninsured Americans through Medicaid by expanding eligibility to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level – largely childless adults with incomes under $15,000 a year. The rest would be required to purchase private coverage starting in 2014 – a mandate upheld by a majority of the justices – with subsidies and tax credits for those earning 100 to 400 percent of the poverty level…”
  • Medicaid debate likely to be big one in Olympia, By Brad Shannon, July 30, 2012, Tacoma News Tribune: “How far to expand Medicaid coverage for poor people under the new federal health-reform law is turning into a major question in many states. In Washington, it is shaping up as a major question for the Legislature next year. Majority Democrats and Republicans are sharply split, and their differences came into sharp focus last week during a legislative work session on health reform at the Capitol. At issue was how far the state should go in providing taxpayer-paid health care for poor people who, if uninsured, drive up costs for everyone else by going to hospital emergency rooms. Medicaid now serves nearly 1.1 million Washingtonians, and upward of 1 million more could enroll in January 2014 under the federal Affordable Care Act. Most of those costs would be paid by the federal government; the state’s share would top out at 10 percent in 2020…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Gregoire suspends plan to limit Medicaid emergency-room visits, By Carol M. Ostrom, March 31, 2012, Seattle Times: “A plan by the state Medicaid program to stop paying for emergency-room visits for all conditions deemed ‘nonemergency’ – set to go into effect Sunday – has been suspended by Gov. Chris Gregoire pending the outcome of budget negotiations under way in the state Legislature. Gregoire’s budget director, Marty Brown, said Saturday that Gregoire on Friday stopped the Medicaid plan from going into effect, noting growing legislative support for a less-drastic alternative. The alternative plan, pushed by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, is a modified version of a proposal offered by emergency-room doctors and hospitals, Brown said…”
  • Colorado Medicaid expansion to add 10,000, but many more out of luck, By Michael Booth, April 3, 2012, Denver Post: “Colorado’s latest Medicaid expansion is long overdue, health advocates say, but is burdened from the outset with a lottery system serving only 1 in 5 of those in need. The state starts taking applications this week for a new group of Medicaid patients – adults without dependent children – breaking a mold that long defined the insurance program in both scope and cost…”
  • Uncovering kids: 89,000 poor Pa. kids slashed from Medicaid, By Michael Hinkelman and Catherine Lucey, April 3, 2012, Philadelphia Daily News: “Kheli Muhammad was trying to schedule a routine pediatrician’s appointment last summer when she discovered that her 2-year-old son, who has a congenital heart disorder, had been kicked off the Medicaid rolls. The 30-year-old mother of two boys was stunned. ‘It is written in stone that he’s covered,’ Muhammad said of Samad, who qualifies for Medicaid based on his serious medical condition, not the family’s income level. ‘He’s pacemaker-dependent . . . [H]is heart will not beat without a pacemaker.’ But the heartbeat of the fragile little Samad was clearly not a priority for welfare officials, who informed Muhammad that she had failed to renew his benefits – even though she said she had not received renewal paperwork in the mail – and that she’d have to reapply…”

Native American Child Welfare – Washington

Tribe takes control of child welfare from state, By Jennifer Sullivan, March 28, 2012, Seattle Times: “Jessie Scheibner’s eyes cloud with tears and her voice trembles as she talks about the day, almost 70 years ago, when a stranger’s car pulled up to her parents’ home on the Port Gamble S’Klallam Reservation and took her and her two sisters away. The memories of that car ride when she was 3 and the years spent in one foster home after another are hazy. Foster care was difficult enough, but Scheibner, now 72, clearly recalls being ashamed of her dark hair, brown skin and Native American roots as she bounced from home to home off the reservation. She eventually was reunited with her mother and her sisters when she was 7, but the emotional scars remain. For decades, children who were removed from their homes in child-welfare cases among the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and other tribes across the United States were taken off their reservations and placed in the homes of nontribal members. Because individual states handled child-welfare issues for Native-American tribes, including foster care, abused and neglected children were forced to leave their communities and, often, their cultures…”

Medicaid and Emergency Room Visits – Washington

  • State Medicaid to quit paying for ER visits deemed unnecessary, By Carol M. Ostrom, February 7, 2012, Seattle Times: “Intent on cutting state budget health-care costs, Medicaid officials say the program will no longer pay for any medically unnecessary emergency-room visits, even when patients or parents have reason to believe they’re having an emergency. The rules – arguably more drastic than an earlier proposal to limit Medicaid patients to three visits per year for nonemergency conditions – would block payment for ER visits for about 500 different conditions. They would apply to all adults and children on Medicaid, with no exceptions, such as someone being brought in by ambulance or from a nursing home, or when patients have neurological symptoms or unstable vital signs. The new rules are to begin April 1, but a statewide group of emergency doctors, backed by the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington State Hospital Association, are pressing lawmakers to stop the plan, arguing it would shift costs to hospitals and ER doctors and deny care to people with real emergencies…”
  • Medicaid may stop covering visits to ER later deemed ‘unnecessary’, By Jordan Schrader, February 8, 2012, Tacoma News Tribune: “Medicaid soon might stop covering emergency-room treatment that state officials decide afterward was ‘not medically necessary.’ A state Health Care Authority rule putting a three-visit limit on unnecessary ER use by poor patients was blocked in court on procedural grounds. The agency has replaced it with a new policy planned to take effect April 1 that would reduce the number of conditions deemed non-emergencies but would forbid even a single unnecessary visit. The doctors and hospitals who sued over the old rule blasted the new plan Tuesday, saying it would leave it up to a ‘faceless bureaucrat’ to decide what’s an emergency. They weren’t ready to say they’ll go to court again over it…”

State Minimum Wages

  • Minimum wage rates may climb this year, By Paul Davidson, February 2, 2012, USA Today: “At least 17 states recently raised the minimum wage or are considering doing so in 2012, the most in at least six years. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney broke with GOP conservatives this week, renewing his call for automatic federal minimum wage increases to keep up with inflation. President Obama has backed raising the U.S. basic wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $9.50 and indexing future automatic increases to inflation. Many economists cite a growing divide between rich and poor. The federal minimum wage rate applies everywhere except in states that set higher minimum rates…”
  • Washington state bills targeting minimum wage die, By Jonathan Kaminsky (AP), January 31, 2012, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Washington state lawmakers have shelved a series of bills that would lower wages at the bottom of the income scale in an effort to spur private-sector hiring.  The five Republican-sponsored bills failed to come up for a House committee vote Tuesday ahead of a key deadline.  Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, said his goal in sponsoring the bills was to encourage employers to hire more workers, particularly in struggling areas of eastern Washington. ‘The little guys are what’s getting hurt,’ said Condotta. ‘They can’t push the prices up any more. They can’t complete.’ Among the bills was one to implement a tip-credit allowing restaurant owners to pay waiters and other tipped employees less than the minimum wage…”

State Minimum Wages

  • Minimum wage milestone: Why Washington State surpassed $9 an hour, By Aaron Lester, January 2, 2012, Christian Science Monitor: “Low-wage earners have a little more to celebrate this new year, at least in eight states. In those states, 2012 means a higher minimum wage, under laws that peg the wage floor to inflation. The increase makes Washington the first state to set its minimum wage higher than $9 an hour. Why Washington? Why now? Simple. Washington pegs its minimum wage to the consumer price index, says Paul Sonn of the National Employment Law Project. That means whenever the cost of living increases, so does the minimum wage there  Nine other states do the same. (One of them, Missouri, opted for no change this year, and Nevada’s increase won’t kick in until midyear, leaving eight states where the minimum wage rose as of Jan. 1.) But Washington has been using that CPI-based formula since 2001, longer than any other state, and that’s why its hourly wage is highest…”
  • Raising the minimum wage: Whom does it help?, By Martin Kaste, January 3, 2012, National Public Radio: “For some of America’s lowest-paid workers, the new year means a pay raise. Some states set their own minimum wages, above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and that rekindles an old debate over whether minimum wages make sense – especially at a time of high unemployment. Like several other states, Washington state’s minimum wage is indexed to the cost of living. This year, the formula has raised the statewide minimum from $8.67 to $9.04 an hour, making it the nation’s highest statewide rate…”