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SEATTLE — Seattle is set to become the third U.S. city to require businesses to provide paid sick days for their workers, after a City Council vote Monday that supporters said could provide momentum for establishing similar laws across the country.
The council voted 8-1 to mandate that all but the smallest companies — those with fewer than five workers — give at least five paid days off a year to employees who are sick, need to care for a sick family member, or who are victims of domestic abuse and need to take time off to assist law enforcement or attend court hearings. Businesses with more than 250 workers would have to provide nine days.
Mayor Mike McGinn is expected to sign the measure, putting Seattle in a league with San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Connecticut, where a state law takes effect in January. Residents of Denver will vote on a similar measure this fall, and proponents are pushing for a statewide paid sick days law in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Milwaukee passed a sick-leave bill in 2008 that was later pre-empted by the state Legislature, and this year Philadelphia’s City Council passed one which was vetoed by its mayor.
Nationwide, 44 million workers do not have access to paid sick days, according to the advocacy group Family Values at Work. An estimated 145,000 to 190,000 of them are in Seattle.
The White House said Mr. Obama will travel to Australia in November for the 60th anniversary of a security treaty among the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Obama had made plans to travel to Australia last year, but the trip was canceled twice — once so Mr. Obama could stay in Washington to lobby for his health care overhaul and a second time because of the devastating oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The White House said the president’s trip also will include stops in Hawaii and Bali, Indonesia, where he will attend two economic summits.
Engineered salmon still a distant reality
Members of Congress are pushing to stop the Food and Drug Administration from approving genetically engineered salmon, saying not enough is known about a fish they fear could harm fishery businesses in coastal states.
It appeared last year that the FDA might approve the engineered salmon quickly. But the congressional pushback and a lack of action by the FDA could mean the fish won’t be on the nation’s dinner tables anytime soon.
The fish, which grows twice as fast as the conventional variety, is engineered by AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based company, but not yet allowed on the market. The company’s application has been pending for more than 15 years. If the agency approves it, it would be the first time the government allows such modified animals to be marketed for people to eat.
Congressional opposition to the engineered fish is led by members of the Alaska delegation. They see the modified salmon as a threat to the state’s wild salmon industry.
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