January 6, 2020
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Washington employers face flurry of new regulations in 2020

Washington's minimum wage is now among the highest in the country after a major boost.

The minimum wage went from $12 an hour to $13.50 per hour on Jan. 1. Only Washington, D.C.'s $14 an hour wage is higher than Washington state's, U.S. News reports. California's wage is $13 per hour, and Idaho's is $7.25.

The wage increase is expected to impact about 730,000 workers in Washington, according to the National Employment Law Project. Minimum wages in Seattle are now $15.75 an hour, and $16.34 an hour in SeaTac.

The owner of the '59er Diner in Chelan says he expects to lose $40,000 this year, and that he's raised prices twice over the last three years.

"If it's $15 for a hamburger, on their way home, people are not gonna stop at the diner because it's just too expensive,” restaurant owner Joe Canatta told King 5.

Q13 Fox and The Spokesman-Review have more. The state Department of Labor and Industries offers posters and more resources here.

Other changes include a new law that bans many non-competition clauses in employment contracts, The Columbia Basin Herald reports. The new law will "effectively make it impossible to enforce non-competition clauses in employment agreements against employees who make less than $100,000 per year or independent contractors making less than $250,000," The Herald reports, citing an analysis by international law firm Latham & Watkins.

The new law also blocks employers from stopping their employees from taking second jobs, or moonlighting, if they earn less than $27 an hour.

Also new this year: Workers can now receive benefits from the Paid Family and Medical Leave program. KOMO News talked to a few people interested in the program, and Olympia Business Watch provided an overview of resources for employers.

The new program is drawing a lot of interest. About 75,000 people have visited www.paidleave.wa.gov so far, and nearly 6,400 people have applied for benefits since Dec. 30, state officials report.

New overtime rules also apply to Washington employers this year. As of January 1, the federal minimum salary threshold increased to $684 a week, or $35,568 a year. New overtime rules from the state of Washington kick in on July 1. Please visit the state Department of Labor and Industries website for more information.

For more information please contact AWB Government Affairs Director Bob Battles at BobB@awb.org or 360.943.1600.

For business owners and HR managers who want to be up-to-date on employment law for 2020, register today for AWB’s HR and Employment Law webinar series. Today, Jan. 6, is your last day to save $50 before the series price increases. Series registration will be available until Feb. 4, after which only individual webinars will be available for registration.

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Forward into Space Investment

Federal space push is an opportunity for Washington

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

The new federal Space Force received just $40 million in the $738 billion defense budget that Congress recently approved.

That amount is as comical as the name Space Force, which sounds like something from a low-budget sci-fi movie.

But that belies serious effort and spending the federal government is now devoting to space activities. Snickering aside, this should renew Washington state efforts to be sure its universities, workers and growing cluster of space companies play substantial roles in these national investments.

As the nation increases space investment, legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee should nurture and grow space research, development and manufacturing in Washington, building on its historical leadership in aerospace and software.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times