Minimum wage increase passes in Pa. Senate; bigger test will come in House
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Harrisburg Patriot News
Charles Thompson
The Pennsylvania Senate easily passed a compromise bill Wednesday that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 per hour over the next two years. Under the terms of Senate Bill 79, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage would move from $7.25 to $8 per hour on July 1, 2020. It would rise to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2021; $9 on July 1, 2021; and then take the final step to $9.50 on Jan. 1, 2022. The bill passed on a 42-7 vote with only seven Republicans in opposition. Gov. Tom Wolf has been pushing for a higher minimum wage since taking office in 2015. But it faces a greater test in the state House of Representatives. The wage issue has never been a favorite of the majority House Republicans, who have argued it’s insignificant when compared to other policy moves that could promote a warmer business climate and stronger economy for all Pennsylvanians. But it is also has a chance to pull support in the House for several reasons: Many elements of the state’s business community have dropped their opposition to the increase, and actually like the hedge they believe it provides against Democratic Party-favored proposals to raise the wage to $12 per hour or higher.  Wolf has agreed to drop a proposed regulatory effort to mandate overtime for more salaried, private sector workers – something business groups are strongly opposed to – if the minimum wage hike is approved.  Much, sources say, will depend on intra-party caucus room arguments in the weeks ahead. On Wednesday, however, supporters of a higher wage in the Senate spent most of their time debating over how much of a win this is for low-income workers.
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