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As a $9.50/hour minimum wage plan advanced in the Senate, the amended bill also included a moratorium on changes to PA’s outdated overtime pay rules.

Philadelphia, PA, November 19, 2019 – State Senator Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) voted yesterday in favor of raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.50 while renewing her call for a much larger increase in the statewide minimum.

During a meeting of the Senate Labor & Industry Committee, members voted unanimously to report a largely amended version of Tartaglione’s SB 79 to the full Senate for consideration. Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee also approved the bill with two no votes from the 24-member panel. The full Senate may vote on the bill as soon as tomorrow.

The legislation proposes to raise the minimum wage to $8.00 next July 1, and by 50 cents every six months until the rate reaches $9.50 on January 1, 2022. Also, under a Republican-driven amendment, the bill would prevent the Department of Labor & Industry from updating the state’s overtime pay rules until January 1, 2023. Under the current rules, employers can refuse to pay overtime wages to any employee making more than $23,660 a year in regular wages.

“With one in eight Pennsylvanians living in poverty, and one in four living in near-poverty – despite our historically low unemployment rate – I simply cannot walk away from legislation that could provide our working poor with at least some relief … even the bare minimum level of relief,” Senator Tartaglione said.

In a separate bill, SB 12, Senator Tartaglione has proposed to raise the minimum wage to $12 this year and to $15 by 2025. Introduced in March, that legislation awaits action in the Labor & Industry Committee.

“I would like nothing better than to vote in favor of legislation that provides a fair raise to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage workers,” Senator Tartaglione said. “I would like nothing better than to give them the raise that they have been waiting 13 years for, a raise that they desperately need and deserve.”

“Likewise, I’d like to see the Commonwealth adopt overtime regulations that guarantee all Pennsylvanians an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Sadly, the drastically-amended bill that was voted on in the Labor Committee has fallen far short of these worthy objectives.”

In June 2018, the Department of Labor & Industry proposed new overtime rules that would raise the overtime pay threshold. After a lengthy public comment period, a modified rulemaking proposal now sits before a state regulatory panel. Under the plan, workers who make less than $45,500 a year in regular wages would be entitled to overtime pay.

Yet in a party-line vote, Labor Committee Republicans amended SB 79 to block the rules changes until 2023. Under new federal regulations, the threshold will increase to $35,568 as of January 1, 2020. But that will exclude more than 80,000 Pennsylvania workers who would gain overtime pay protection under the state’s proposed rules.

Meanwhile, about 385,000 low-wage workers in Pennsylvania stand to benefit directly from a $9.50 minimum wage. That figure pales in comparison to the more than 1 million who would benefit from a $12 minimum or the 2 million who would benefit from a $15 minimum.

Currently, Pennsylvania has a lower minimum wage than all six of its bordering states and is among just 21 mostly Southern and rural states where the federal $7.25 rate is still in effect. SB 12 would bring Pennsylvania back in line with Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, which have already adopted laws leading to $15 minimum wages.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact William Kenny at 215-533-0440 or William.Kenny@pasenate.com.