Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his final budget address to a joint session of the state House and Senate on Tuesday, 2/8/22 (Commonwealth Media Services photo).
Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
When he pitched his eighth, and final, budget to state lawmakers earlier this month, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf included a familiar request: That the Republican-controlled General Assembly finally boost Pennsylvania’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour, where it’s been parked for more than a decade, to $12 an hour by July 1, with the eventual goal of raising it to $15 an hour.
But even as he’s sought legislative authorization for a pay hike for all Pennsylvania workers, Wolf quietly has been taking executive action to raise wages for state workers under his control, and for other employees impacted by state government.
Last month, Wolf’s office announced it was raising the minimum wage for commonwealth employees to $15 an hour. That came on top of a March 2016 executive order raising wages for state workers to $10.15 an hour. The order again was amended in July 2018 to boost the wage to $12 an hour.
And this week, the administration moved to boost wages for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers with an update to the decades-old state rules that govern how employers can pay them.
There’s still a long road to go before it becomes the law of the land, but the action by the administration was a good first step.
Notably, the proposed rules increase the amount that a tipped employee must receive monthly from $30 to $135 before an employer can reduce their hourly pay from the current $7.25 an hour to the tipped rate of $2.83 an hour, the state Department of Labor & Industry said in a statement.
The new rules aim to “establish robust and modernized guardrails to protect tipped workers in the 21st century and ensure consistency for employers,” Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said.
The proposed rules, which now go to a state oversight agency for the first part of a long approval process, also would:
- Align state regulations with federal rules allowing employers to take a tip credit, including that the employee spends at least 80 percent of their time on duties that generate tips. This is familiarly known as the ’80-20′ rule, the agency said in it statement.
- Update state regulations to allow for tip pooling among employees, but excluding mangers, supervisors and business owners
- Ban employers from deducting transaction fees from an employee’s tip left on a credit card or other non-cash payment method.
- Require employers to clarify that automatic service charges don’t count as gratuities for tipped employees, the agency said in its statement.
“The world of work has changed significantly since these regulations first went into effect in 1977, but tipped workers remain a sizable and critical segment of Pennsylvania’s workforce,” Berrier said in the agency’s statement. “They are the only workers whose take-home pay ultimately depends on the generosity of their customers and not the obligation of their employer.”
Most of Pennsylvania’s surrounding states have each raised their respective minimum wages, according to an analysis by Axios.
Here’s a state-by-state breakdown, based on data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute:
- Delaware: $9.25/hr. to $10.50/hr., 1/1/22
- Maryland: $11.75/hr. to $12.50/hr., 1/1/22
- New Jersey: $12/hr to $13/hr., 1/1/22
- New York: $12.50/hr, with index raise, to $13.20
- Ohio: $8.80/hr., with index raise starting 1/1/22
- West Virginia: $8.75/hr., no increase
While Wolf has spent much of his eight years pressing, unsuccessfully, for a minimum wage hike, some Republicans have made smaller counter-offers, but none has ever garnered the votes it needs to make it all the way to Wolf’s desk. Wolf, joined by some Democratic allies, also has called for the elimination of the tipped wage.
Meanwhile, 25 states and 56 cities will raise their minimum wages by the end of 2022, Axios reported, citing data compiled by the National Employment Law Project. In many areas, the wage floor will meet or exceed $15 per hour.
But not in Pennsylvania — again. Unless lawmakers finally do the long overdue sane thing and raise the wage.
A proposed wind farm in Schuylkill County is pitting investors and renewable energy advocates excited about the project – and its economic benefits – against military and governmental officials who are concerned that the project poses a threat to military operations at a nearby base, Cassie Miller reports.
A group of Pennsylvania Republicans are asking for a federal judge to keep the state’s highest court from picking a congressional map, Stephen Caruso reports.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine amounted to “the beginning of a Russian invasion” of that country that could get much worse in the days ahead, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt writes. A companion analysis, by our friends at The Conversation provides you with five essential reads on the ever-expanding crisis.
And Democrats and Republicans in Congress on Tuesday called on Biden to impose severe sanctions on Russia after the country declared a broad section of eastern Ukraine independent before sending troops into the region, the Capital-Star’s Washington Bureau and I report.
Because Black men are disproportionately inclined to be jailed and experience racism, companies need to rethink their hiring policies, a new study concludes. Our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune have the story.
On our Commentary Page this morning: If you think you’re living in a divided America, it’s nothing new, columnist Janice Ellis, of our sibling site, the Missouri Independent, writes. And if Pennsylvania wants to solve its teacher shortage, it needs to get creative and visionary, Lancaster County educator Paula Westerman writes.
The Inquirer profiles state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta’s, D-Philadelphia, campaign for U.S. Senate.
The Caucus takes a look at the ad wars in the fight for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination.
Defying national trends, faculty at Chatham University have voted to return to the tenure system, the Post-Gazette reports.
A Pennsylvania contingent is headed for the trucker protest in Washington D.C., PennLive reports.
York County District Attorney Dave Sunday will speak at CPAC 2022, the York Daily Record reports.
Police in Allentown have charged a 25-year-old in connection with a shooting at the city’s Cedar Beach, the Morning Call reports.
The Citizens’ Voice talks to local motorists about rising gas prices.
In Philadelphia, college students honored the legacy of local civil rights legend Octavius Catto, WHYY-FM reports.
Bankruptcies have plummeted as Pa. households take advantage of the COVID stimulus and savings, WESA-FM reports (via WITF-FM).
Erie’s colleges and universities are bracing for a ‘demographic cliff,’ GoErie reports.
As Black History Month comes to an end, the Reading Eagle profiles one of the city’s oldest civil rights organizations.
A supplemental funding bill for Ukraine could be in the works on Capitol Hill, Roll Call reports.
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What Goes On
10 a.m., Hearing Room 1 North Office Building: Senate Appropriataions Committee/Treasury Dept. budget hearing.
10a.m., 60 East Wing: House Game & Fisheries Committee
Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.
You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to Capital-Star Correspondent Kim Lyons, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.
Here’s an absolute classic from The BoDeans. It’s a live version of ‘Still the Night.’ If you are not smiling and tapping your feet by the end of it, check yourself for a pulse.
Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Columbus Blue Jackets topped the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday night. The Jackets’ Patrik Laine scored the game winner 20 seconds into the overtime period.
And now you’re up to date.
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