Looking ahead: Minimum wage, fish consumption, data centers, and cap & trade.

The week ends with a few stories reflecting some changes ahead:

Minimum Wage

Puget Sound Business Journal asks, $15 minimum wage: What will Seattle restaurants with Eastside locations do? Some of the answers aren’t good.

A Crosscut article, Seattle on verge of ‘historic’ action on minimum wage, closes with a curious quote from Seattle councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the council’s committee on the minimum wage and income inequality.

Clark also acknowledged that it remains unclear what the overall effect of the wage increase will be for the city’s low-income residents. She also said it will likely take more than a pay bump to address some of the issues that keep people in dire economic situations.

“We have no idea,” she said, “if we will actually move the needle on poverty.”

Fish Consumption

KIRO news, not shying away from stating the obvious, says there are big stakes in Washington’s fish consumption debate. The issue concerns establishing water quality standards based on estimates of how much fish people eat and the cancer risk associated with toxic pollutants in the water.

The Association of Washington Business, local governments such as Everett and others, meanwhile, have told Inslee that keeping the cancer risk factor at its current rate is “unacceptable” and, coupled with a high fish consumption rate, would result in “unmeasurable incremental health benefits, and predictable economic turmoil.”

They say some standards being debated would drive businesses out of state. They note that technology doesn’t exist in some cases to limit certain pollutants, though environmental groups argue that the standards would drive technological innovations.

The Olympian urges the state to aim for middle ground, though it sets a fuzzy target.

…tensions rise between those who advocate for stricter regulations to pull us back from the precipice of environmental doom, and those happy to go on polluting in short-sighted oblivion.

In nearly every case, the best path lies somewhere between the extremes. We need regulations strict enough to protect the health of all Washington citizens, but with enough flexibility to allow time to adapt to more stringent limits and perhaps time for new water treatment technologies to be developed.

Right. Because regulatory flexibility works so well.

Cap and Trade

Sticking with environmental regulation, next week we’ll see the release of the president’s cap-and-trade initiative.

The Wall Street Journal reports the EPA is set to unveil climate proposal.

…the proposal is designed to give states, which will administer the regulations, flexibility to meet the benchmarks, as opposed to placing emissions limits on individual plants, according to people familiar with the Environmental Protection Agency’s work on the rule.

Central to the strategy of flexibility: the option to include a cap-and-trade component where a limit is set on emissions and companies can trade allowances or credits for emissions as a way of staying under different benchmarks the EPA sets for each state.

One question: Would the federal initiative pre-empt the governor’s climate agenda?

For more, Politico has a nice roundup on how cap-and-trade lives on through the states.

Data Centers

Finally, we posted earlier on the importance of data center tax initiatives. TechFlash has some numbers. It’s a big business and one that is growing rapidly due to increased demand and heightened concerns about security in the cloud.