A number of the players who were heavily invested in last year’s gubernatorial rematch between Gov. Chris Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi subscribe to the notion that the beginning of the end for Rossi, who had appeared to have closed the gap on Gregoire in September polling, was the night he said, during a debate hosted by the Association of Washington Business in Blaine, that he was open to considering a scaling back of the minimum wage for teenagers in Washington state.
Two weeks later the Rossi campaign suffered an embarrassing setback when Kittitas County Republican Party Chair Matt Manweller, a CWU political science professor, unleashed a tirade outside of an Ellensburg campaign rally, calling supporters of Washington state’s minimum wage “dumber than a post.”
Well, even without their guy Rossi in the governor’s mansion, the good politicians of Central Washington aren’t giving up on it.
State Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-Wenatchee) introduced a bill today that would allow state employers to pay 15 year olds 85% of the Federal minimum wage. Today that wage is $6.55, which would make the Armstrong’s proposed 15-year old wage $5.57.
Washington state’s current minimum wage is $8.55, making this would-be $3.00 decrease even steeper than the $1.50 proposed by Rossi last fall.
“When I was a teenager, I worked in the orchards around Wenatchee picking apples, cherries and other fruit,” Armstrong said in a press release, recalling the halcyon days of the early 1970s. “A training wage would help to further expand these opportunities for your young people and be a savings to farmers struggling to pay for harvest and stay in business.”
In other words, think of the children!
The bill was referred to the House Commerce and Labor Commmittee, where one can assume it will die a slow death. Committee chair Rep. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma), whose House website lists his top legislative priority as “family wage jobs”, did not return a call seeking comment about the bill’s fate.
Ironically, this was only one of two bills introduced today regarding 15 year olds, whose political stock is at an all-time high on this Groundhog’s Day. Sen Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) brought a bill to the Senate floor that would ban children under the age of 16 from hunting in Washington state without adult accompaniment.
If the Democrats get their way, they won’t be able to work or hunt. How will they ever feed their families? Good thing they can still get their contraceptives without much hassle, right?