Preemption laws in every state, visualized – and how Pa. stacks up | Monday Morning Coffee

October 5, 2020 7:15 am

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

new report by the Economic Policy Institute offers a dramatic, state-by-state look at efforts by state legislatures to preempt local ordinances and laws, from a higher minimum wage to paid leave policies,  aimed at bettering the lives of their citizens — especially during the pandemic.

“Southern states are more likely than states in other regions to use preemption to stop local governments from setting strong labor standards that would support people struggling to make ends meet, such as raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing paid sick leave,” the report’s authors conclude.

They attribute this prevalence to a “long history of events and actions that have reinforced anti-Black racism and white supremacy toward preemption to the region’s long history of adopting policies that have.”

We’ll start with the minimum wage.

As you can see from the map above, Pennsylvania is among the states that have a statute preventing local governments from raising their minimum wage above the state minimum of $7.25 an hour, where it’s sat since 2009.

As the Capital-Star previously reported, that preemption statute was part of the deal when then-Gov. Ed Rendell signed a 2006 law boosting the state’s minimum wage by $2 an hour, from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 an hour.

State lawmakers have since defied every effort to raise the wage in the nearly 14 years since, despite repeated calls from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his allies in the General Assembly, even as Pennsylvania’s neighbors have raised their own minimum wages.

Below, a look at the state of preemption laws in the rest of the nation, state by state — and where Pennsylvania falls.

Fair Scheduling Laws:

(The Economic Policy Institute screenshot)

Project Labor Agreements:

(The Economic Policy Institute screenshot)

Prevailing Wage:

(The Economic Policy Institute screenshot)

Paid Leave:

Philadelphia enacted a law in 2015 that requires employers with 10 or more workers to provide paid sick leave. That’s kosher under state law, the Capital-Star reported in 2019.

Pittsburgh tried to do the same thing that year, but was quickly sued by restaurants and an industry group that claimed the city overstepped its home rule powers. Lower courts agreed that, under the state’s home rule law, Pittsburgh isn’t allowed to require paid sick leave for private employers.

In what may turn out to be a landmark ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed those lower decisions and ruled in favor of the city.

Justice David N. Wecht, writing for the majority, said the court needed to find a “middle ground” between allowing home rule municipalities to govern and preventing them from burdening private businesses.

The Steel City’s paid sick leave laws took effect on March 20 of this year. You can read the fine print of the policy here.

(The Economic Policy Institute screenshot)

The Gig Economy:

(The Economic Policy Institute screenshot)

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
This morning, we’re kicking off a week-long project, featuring reporting from our sibling sites from across the States Newsroom network. The series, “Battle for the Ballot,” takes an in-depth look at the state of voting rights across the nation, and how individual states are dealing with such issues as election security and early voting. This morning, our reporters talk to voters across the country on how they’re planning to cast their ballots this voting season. 

In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller runs down the happiest states in the union. Click through to see where Pennsylvania finished.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., was widely expected not to run for re-election to a third term in 2022. On Sunday, reports emerged that the 58-year-old Lehigh Valley resident  is expected to confirm his plans today. And he’s also not planning a run for governor either, throwing the race for the GOP nomination wide open. Capital-Star Washington Reporter Laura Olson has the story.

From the weekend, in case you missed it: Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison look at the $1.3 million that Gov. Tom Wolf has pumped into legislative races as Democrats look to recapture control of the state House for the first time in a decade this fall.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a University of Pittsburgh expert explains how one small part of a human antibody has the potential to work as a drug for both prevention and therapy of COVID-19.

(Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Pennsylvania’s voter services website went down over the weekend
 with the deadline for mail-in ballots closing in, the Inquirer reports.
The federal prosecution of protesters is both ‘unusual,’ and ‘unnecessary,’ attorneys tell the Post-Gazette.
PennLive goes deep on a $500 million education bill now before the General Assembly, with fears that it may lead to vouchers in the state.
The Morning Call profiles Dr. Sean Conleythe Bucks County native who’s President Donald Trump’s lead physician.
The Citizens-Voice looks at the struggles of some local churches during COVID-19.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:


View this post on Instagram


Energy Exchange. ☀️? It’s a #Vibe.

A post shared by @ kiefdza on

The Community College of Philadelphia has canceled classes on Election Day to get students to vote, WHYY-FM reports.
Pennsylvania Republicans aren’t changing course on COVID-19 after President Trump’s diagnosis, the Associated Press reports (via WITF-FM).
PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.
has wall-to-wall coverage of the ‘multiple crises’ gripping Capitol Hill in the wake of Trump’s diagnosis.

What Goes On.
The Senate comes in at 1 p.m. today. Here’s a look at the day’s committee action in the upper chamber.
11 a.m., Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Education Committee
11 a.m., Senate Chamber: Senate Law & Justice Committee
12:45 p.m., Senate Chamber: Senate Local Government Committee
Off the Floor: Senate Transportation Committee
Off the Floor: Senate Appropriations Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Jim Cox
11:30 a.m.: 
Luncheon for Rep. Jonathan Fritz
11:30 a.m.: 
Luncheon for Pa. Senate candidate Nicole Ziccarelli
12 p.m.: 
Reception for Pa. Treasurer candidate Stacy Garrity
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Andrew Ritter
6 pm.: 
Virtual event for Rep. Ben Sanchez
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a moderately offensive $10,000 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to the Rev. Sandy Strauss, of the Pa. Council of Churches, who celebrated on Sunday. Ditto for state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, who also celebrated. Congratulations, folks.

A Hearty Morning Coffee Mazel Tov:
Goes out this morning to FOX-43 reporter Samantha Galvez, and former ABC-27 Capitol reporter Matt Heckel, now of WellSpan Health in York, who got engaged on Sunday. Congratulations to the happy couple.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s the new solo track from Elbow frontman Guy Garvey. From the BBC show ‘Life,’ it’s ‘My Angel.’ It is always a very good day indeed, when there is new Guy Garvey/Elbow music in the world.

Monday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
Aston Villa romped to a 7-2 win over defending Premier League champs Liverpool on Sunday
. The Reds were apparently fielding their U12 side this weekend. On second thought, that’s not fair. The U12 squad would have done better.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.