Olympia this week: What do they really think about a teen wage?

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Capital gains tax being debated under the Capitol Dome.

We'll find out Wednesday what the Senate Democrats really think about two bills to allow teens to be paid slightly less than the state minimum wage for summer jobs and for training.

That's when the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee will vote on whether to recommend approval of the bills by committee chair Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Judging from the votes on the same bills when they fizzled last year, the Democrats on the committee will oppose the bills, while the Republican majority will want to send them to a full floor vote.

Baumgartner's summer wage bill would allow employers to pay employees ages 14 through 19 the federal minimum wage, instead of Washington's higher state minimum wages, from June 1 through Aug. 31. Currently, Washington's minimum wage is $9.47 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

In previous years, former Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, had sponsored a bill to allow employers to pay teens a training wage of 85 percent of the state's minimum wage for their first 680 hours on the job. Baumgartner resurrected her bill for teenagers 16 to 19 with the same 85 percent of the state wage or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. But his version of the bill does not say how long a training wage period would lat. It limits any employer to paying a teen wage to a maximum of 10 percent of workers.

Also in the coming week:

On Tuesday, the Reproductive Parity Actsponsored by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, will begin its third annual journey through the House with a hearing before the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. This bill would require insurance companies providing maternity coverage also cover abortions. The House has repeatedly passed this bill, only to see it die in the Senate Health Care Committee.

Also on Tuesday, the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on a bill by Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, to allow bait to be used in hunting bears if the hunter obtains a state permit. It would apply during a limited spring hunting season to control damages caused by black bears. And the Legislative Ethics Board will discuss whether legislators can receive free one-day passes to the U.S. Open golf tournament. The board is also expected to ponder whether potluck dinners, meals provided by local governments and events attended by the full Legislature count as free meals under a new limit of 12 free meals annually for senators and representatives.

Thursday will see a Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Development Committee hearing on a bill by Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, to extend tax breaks for food processing plants. Meanwhile, the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee will hold a hearing on three additional bills by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, to boost the potential for building small modular reactors in the Tri-Cities area. She already had introduced three other bills on nuclear power.

On Friday, the House Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on a bill by Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, to outlaw revenge porn.

John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at johnstang_8@hotmail.com and on Twitter at @johnstang_8