New ballot measure introduced to raise state minimum wage

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Supporters of raising Washington state's minimum wage have filed a ballot measure that would incrementally raise the rate to $13.50 an hour over four years starting in 2017, as well as provide paid sick leave to employees without it.

The initiative was announced at a Monday press conference by a coalition of workers and union members. The measure filed Monday would allow employees that don't currently have sick-leave benefits to earn up to seven days of paid sick and safe leave each year.

Washington's current minimum wage is $9.47 an hour. Lawmakers debated a bill to incrementally raise the state's minimum wage to $12 an hour, but the measure died. For several years, Washington state had the highest statewide minimum wage in the nation, but five states eclipsed the state this year: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.