Minimum wage, carbon tax top list of initiatives

Washington voters are deciding the fate of several high-profile initiatives, including measures that would raise the statewide minimum wage and impose the nation’s first direct carbon tax.

Initiative 1433 would raise the hourly wage by roughly $4 over three years, to $13.50.The measure also would require employers to provide paid sick leave — at least one hour for every 40 worked — that could be used to care for family members or as “safe leave” for those who miss work because of domestic violence.

Washington’s current minimum age is $9.47 an hour.

Sponsors of the carbon tax measure, Initiative 732, say residents have a moral responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses say the tax will drive up fuel and energy costs and put Washington companies at a competitive disadvantage.

The carbon tax would start at $15 a ton of carbon emissions in July, go up to $25 the next year and incrementally increase afterward.