New Minimum Wage Law Barely Passes State House

New Minimum Wage Law Barely Passes State House

( – The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 per hour since 2009. However, as of January 1, 2023, 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam, have established higher worker rates. Pennyslvania’s Democratic-controlled State House of Representatives recently passed a bill to increase its hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2026.

On June 20, the Pennsylvania House narrowly voted to pass HB 1500 by a vote of 103 to 100. The chamber voted along party lines, with one Democrat and two Republicans defecting and voting against their respective parties.

If the measure makes it to the governor’s desk, wages will increase incrementally starting next year, rising to $11 an hour beginning on January 1, 2024, and $13 the following year until it reaches $15 in 2026. Then, starting on January 1, 2027, and each year after that, wages would increase based on an annual cost-of-living adjustment calculated by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry.

Local media outlets reported that raising the state’s minimum wage has been a priority for Democrats after they assumed control of the state’s lower chamber earlier this year. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-179th District), warned that Pennsylvania’s “current state of affairs [was] dire,” with workers struggling to “make ends meet” and “low-wage” earners “falling deeper into poverty.”

Likewise, Rep. Justin Fleming (D-105th District) praised HB 1500’s passage, telling reporters it was one of his main priorities as a candidate for office. He told reporters that passing the bill could keep workers living close to neighboring states patronizing and working for Pennsylvania businesses.

Inversely, Republican lawmakers expressed concerns for small businesses. They also warned Pennsylvanians about rising costs accompanying an increase in the state’s minimum wage. For instance, Rep. Kate Klunk (R-169th District) said she couldn’t support a bill that would “put a local family restaurant out of business.”

HB 1500 moves to the state Senate for consideration. However, with Republicans holding a 28 to 22 lead over Democrats, it remains unclear if the measure will pass.

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