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Unincorporated King County minimum wage hike bill passes out of committee

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(The Center Square) – A proposed bill that would increase the hourly minimum wage in unincorporated King County to $20.29 was given a do-pass recommendation on Tuesday by the King County Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee.

Employers with 15 or fewer employees and an annual gross revenue of less than $2 million would have an hourly minimum wage rate of $3 less ($17.29). The reduction would decrease annually by 50 cents until no reduction remains.

Employers with more than 15 employees but fewer than 500 employees would have an hourly minimum wage rate of $2 less ($18.29). The reduction would decrease annually by $1 until no reduction remains.

If the ordinance is approved by the full King County Council, the annual salary for an employee making $20.29 an hour would be approximately $40,580 for 40 hours per week and 50 weeks per year. According to 2022 Census data, the median household income for King County is $116,255.

Prior to the committee’s vote on the bill, a number of folks representing businesses in unincorporated King County, as well as businesses that are not subject to the minimum wage increase, spoke in opposition of the proposed legislation, saying that it will reduce employee hours and raise the cost of goods.

Cascadia Pizza owners and employees at the committee meeting said the minimum wage increase would negatively impact their lives. The business has multiple locations, including one just outside of Maple Valley.

Co-owner Calvin Freatman said he would have no choice but to cut business hours and employee hours if the bill is passed.

Because the store is located just outside of city limits, Freatman said his eatery “will have significantly higher prices than the pizzeria that’s literally a mile away from us.”

“We are asking that you do not raise the minimum wage without consideration for – some sort of total compensation credit,” Freatman told the committee.

Later in the meeting, King County Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda noted that her office received 154 emails in support of the minimum wage increase and added that increased minimum wages boost local economies.

“When workers have more to spend, they spend more on their local economies [and] they spend more on pizza,” Mosqueda said.

King County Executive staff estimates a minimum annual cost of $600,000 and a one-time cost between $775,000 and $900,000 to provide a basic level of implementation in establishing an hourly minimum wage for unincorporated King County.

Enforcement, investigation and compliance activities would also be considered for additional expenditures.

Unincorporated King County communities like White Center, Skyway and Vashon Island are subject to the state’s minimum wage of $16.28.

A number of King County cities have approved raising their minimum wages in recent years, including SeaTac ($19.71 in 2024), Tukwila ($20.29 in 2024), Seattle ($19.97), and Renton ($20.29).

The proposed bill was approved by the committee by a 4-1 vote, with Councilmember Pete Von Reichbauer being the lone “no” vote. It now heads to the full King County Council for a final vote at a date to be determined.

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