Two months after the state Supreme Court issued a ruling that could have big economic impacts on the dairy industry, Sen. Curtis King of Yakima has introduced a bill to stop what he says could be a financially devastating problem for the state’s dairy industry and other segments of Washington’s economy. A press release from the senator says for 60-years state law exempted the agriculture industry from paying overtime wages after 40 hours per week. However in a ruling last November the U.S. Supreme Court said the law was unconstitutional. But the court didn't say anything about whether overturning the law also meant dairy farmers and other agricultural producers were responsible for up to three years in back pay.That's a big concern for the dairy industry throughout the Yakima Valley.

Senator Curtis King of Yakima has introduced legislation that he hopes will give farmers some relief. Under Senate Bill 5172 any employer who followed the overtime-exemption law until it was overturned can't be made to pay three years in back wages or retroactive compensation. The bill will received a public hearing Thursday in the Senate Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs Committee.

King says “It is very unfair to target an industry and employers who have acted legally over the years,” King, ranking Republican on the Senate Labor, Commerce and Tribal Affairs Committee added "the Legislature needs to shield farmers from being penalized, forced into bankruptcy and put at risk of losing their farms, simply because they had followed the law. The Legislature, not the courts, should be setting policy on this issue.”

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