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Voting Rights Act would level election field

News Coverage | April 9, 2015 | Everett Herald

Elections are not supposed to be mere window dressing to make us look like a democracy. Voting is the fundamental expression of our democracy when the outcomes are not predetermined by race, privilege or practice. That's why we need the Voting Rights Act.

Do Washington State tax breaks level the playing field or reward the powerful?

News Coverage | March 24, 2015 | KPLU

KPLU explores Washington State's tax system through a week-long series. In their second installment of “Where’s the Dough? On the Hunt for Washington’s Missing Tax Dollars," KPLU takes a look at tax exemptions for farmers and what their role is in creating a fair economy. EOI's Executive Director John Burbank weighs in on the cost of Washington's 600 exemptions, especially when nearly $11 billion of that impact comes from the 25 biggest exemptions alone.

Paid sick leave helps workers and businesses

News Coverage | March 11, 2015 | By John Burbank | Everett Herald

Staying home when you're sick helps you get well and keeps others from getting sick. But there is no law requiring employers to ensure workers have paid sick days — or any other kind of leave or vacation, for that matter. And there's nothing to prevent an employer from firing someone for missing a day of work if they are sick. That's why we need House Bill 1356, which recently passed the state House. Washington workers need paid sick days.

County Councilmembers introduce legislation for up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for county employees

News Coverage | February 26, 2015 | Kent Reporter

Metropolitan King County Council members on Thursday introduced legislation that would guarantee working moms and dads employed by the county up to 12 weeks in paid parental leave after a birth, adoption or new placement of a foster child. Dr. Marilyn P. Watkins, Policy Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute says, “We know that babies thrive best when their parents can spend those first weeks of life with them, with lasting benefits for their health and development.”

Senate panel forwards bill to pay teens lower wages

News Coverage | February 16, 2015 | Yakima Herald

A bill that would allow employers to pay seasonal teen workers the lower federal minimum wage passed out of a Senate committee last week. Supporters argue that the measure, Senate Bill 5421, would help small businesses stay competitive and offer more motivation to hire teenagers. Opponents of the bill, however, say lowering the wage more than $2 below the state minimum would hurt the youngest workers more than might be expected. EOI's Marilyn Watkins says cutting teen wages would damage students and families. “Teen workers along with everyone else need to receive fair compensation for their labor."

Will WALeg raise minimum wage for all or cut it for teens?

News Coverage | February 16, 2015 | Spokesman Review

The Washington State Legislature is divided. Currently Washington has the highest minimum wage for any state at $9.47 an hour. However, Republican-controlled Senate could cut it, at least for teens in summer jobs or new workers in training. The Democratic-controlled House could raise it for all workers, incrementally to $12 an hour by 2019. The Spokesman Review asked Economic Opportunity Institute's Policy Director, Marilyn Watkins, to weigh in.

Maryland legislature considers bill to defer college payment, spread across years

News Coverage | February 4, 2015 | Diamondback

The current system of paying for college is unsustainable. To address the student debt crisis, the Maryland House of Delegates is considering a bill to study a Pay It Forward program that could dramatically change the way students pay for college. John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, developed the Pay It Forward concept and works closely with states trying to study and test the program.

Inside Outlook: Tuition and Debt [VIDEO]

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News Coverage | January 27, 2015 | UWTV

Rising tuition is not unique to the University of Washington. It is being felt by students across the country and has profound implications for both the individual and the economy at large. What is driving these tuition increases and what can be done to slow this trend? What can we do to insure affordable access to higher education for future generations? On this episode of Inside Outlook, we address these questions and more. (Feat. John Burbank, Executive Director, EOI)

Take a Sick Day? Not an Option for 1 Million WA Workers

News Coverage | January 26, 2015 | Public News Service

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A paid day off when a worker or their child is ill isn't an option for about one million people in Washington whose employers don't offer them the ability to accrue hours of sick leave. Today in Olympia, a House committee examines legislation to change that.

Legislators look at bridging gender pay gap

News Coverage | January 23, 2015 | Crosscut.com

Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island. Senn and Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, plan to introduce companion bills to require employers to provide valid reasons — such as differences in education, training or experience — if employees challenge pay disparities between workers of the opposite sex for essentially the same work. The Seattle-based social issues think tank Economic Opportunity Institute crunched the census and survey numbers.

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