Second “Single Subject” Challenge to Voter-Approved Paid Sick Leave Rejected

The challenge to the constitutionality of the Washington State November 2016 voter referendum approving paid sick leave and a minimum wage increase has been rejected. A similar challenge to last year’s Arizona referendum approving paid sick leave and a minimum wage increase was rejected by the Arizona Supreme Court a few weeks ago.

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In Washington, a cadre of business interests argued that the voter initiative violated the state constitution because it combined two “distinct and unrelated matters” in one bill.

Rejecting that argument, the Kittitas County Superior Court judge held that the ballot title referenced “labor standards”; that minimum wages and paid sick leave are compensation, a subset of “labor standards”; and that “rational unity” exists between the title and content of the Initiative.  The court also held that the ballot title gave voters adequate notice of the issues within and that the initiative could “stand alone,” without reference to amending any other law, because mandatory paid sick leave was a “new category of employee leave.”

The judge’s three page ruling relied extensively on a 2015 Supreme Court of Washington decision rejecting a similar challenge to a bill providing paid sick days and minimum wage increase in SeaTac, Washington.

Another “single subject” legal challenge to a voter referendum is pending in New Mexico.  There, a cadre of business interests have challenged this fall’s anticipated ballot initiative on paid sick leave.  They claim that combining the fourteen “non-interdependent” provisions into one voter initiative is “logrolling” in violation of  the state constitution. My post on that lawsuit is here.