Pittsburgh scored a win with paid sick leave. States across the country are trying to stop that from happening | Thursday Morning Coffee

July 18, 2019 7:26 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

There’s no doubt about it: City officials in Pittsburgh scored a massive win Wednesday when the state Supreme Court ruled the Steel City can require private employers to provide paid sick leave to their workers.

But as Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes reported, just because the city *can* do something, doesn’t mean that elected officials in Harrisburg aren’t going to make it as difficult as humanly possible for that to happen.

As Hughes reported, lawmakers have, in the past, introduced measures that would preempt municipalities from enacting laws like paid sick leave. One of those bills, introduced by state Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, states “a municipality may not in any manner regulate employer policies or practices or enforce any mandate regarding employer policies or practices.”

“If Pittsburgh and Philly want to be San Francisco, they can just go to San Francisco,” Grove said Wednesday in reaction to the ruling. The central Pennsylvania Republican added that he expects the decision will spur action not only on preemption legislation but also judicial reforms.

If Grove were an outlier, that would be one thing. But a quick look at the data shows that lawmakers in nearly half the states agree with him, pointing to a difficult road ahead for Pittsburgh.

Image via Pittsburgh United

As our friends at report, more than a dozen states over the last three years have “banned localities from passing paid leave requirements, more than doubling to 22 the states that now outlaw such local ordinances.” 

The actions by states come “in response to the increasing number of cities and counties passing paid sick days ordinances. Since 2015, more than 20 cities, as well as eight states, have approved measures mandating that companies provide local workers with paid sick leave. Since San Francisco approved the first paid sick leave ordinance in 2006, paid sick day requirements have been passed in 35 cities or counties and 11 states,” Stateline reported.

Right now, only 10 states and Washington D.C. require paid sick leave, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to NCSL“Connecticut was the first state to require private sector employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees, with a law enacted in 2011. California became the second state to enact paid sick requirements, with the passage of the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act of 2014. Massachusetts was the third state to require paid sick leave, as voters there approved the Earned Sick Time for Employees ballot measure during the 2014 general election. The Oregon Legislature enacted a law during the 2015 session, and the Vermont Legislature did so during the 2016 session.

“During the 2016 general election, voters in Arizona and Washington approved ballot measures requiring employers to provide paid sick leave. The Rhode Island Legislature was the only state to pass a paid sick leave law in 2017, which took effect in 2018. The Maryland Legislature  overrode a gubernatorial veto of paid sick leave legislation in January 2018; the law took effect the next month. New Jersey enacted a mandatory paid sick leave law on May 2, 2018, which [was to go] into effect October 29, 2018. 

“There are no federal laws that require employers to provide paid sick leave for their employees,” NCSL noted in a summary of state paid sick leave laws.

“There’s a real pitched battle going on in a lot of places right now between cities that have decided that they really want to protect workers’ rights and workers’ health, and state legislatures that don’t want to interfere with businesses at all,”Sherry Leiwant, co-founder and co-president of A Better Balance, a New York-based group that supports paid leave, told Stateline. “We’re seeing that more and more, and I think we’re going to keep seeing that.”

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Stephen Caruso hung out at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission,where he bore witness to a Cumberland County man’s lonely quest to slow the march of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipelines across Pennsylvania.

As Pa. faces a home-care worker ‘crisis,’ lawmakers are setting the stage for a small wage increaseSarah Anne Hughes reports.

We weighed in on freshman state Sen. Doug Mastriano’s push for a so-called “Heartbeat” abortion ban bill.

Very busy Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender has a pair of stories from Capitol Hill, as House Democrats led a push to hold two senior Trump administration officials in criminal contempt. The House also rejected an attempt to push impeachment articles.

On our Commentary PageColin McNickle says the Allegheny County Airport Authority might be biting off more than it can chew with a new terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport. And a scholar from SUNY-Buffalo examines America’s tangled history of segregated swimming pools and amusement parks.

The Philadelphia Skyline from the ‘Rocky Steps’ at the Philly Art Museum. Photo by Steve Lange, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

Sources tell the Inquirer that some city cops will be fired for their offensive Facebook posts.
The president of the Harrisburg school board voted for her own husband’s raisePennLive suggests that this could be a problem.
Slain Pittsburgh Police Officer Calvin Hall was shot three times in the back, the Post-Gazette reports.
Hall’s colleagues paid tribute to their late comrade Wednesday, the Tribune-Review reports.
City officials in Allentown have been repeatedly urged to do more to curb gun violence. The Morning Call logically asks how many more people have to be shot before that happens.

Here’s your #Erie Instagram of the Day:

The New Jersey judge in that ‘good family’ rape case has stepped down, WHYY-FM reports.
WITF-FM wonders whether a change in state law will help raise student test scores.
Democrat Dan Smith, who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Daryl Metcalfe for state House in 2018, is running against oppressed white man U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, in 2020. PoliticsPA has the story.
Crowds at President Donald Trump’s rally in North Carolina on Wednesday chanted ‘Send Her Back’ against U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who is Somali by birth, but is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. Because that’s America now.

What Goes On.
10 a.m, East Rotunda: HRSA 
on grants to help with rural health.

10 a.m, Media Center: Gov. Tom Wolf 
and officials from the Dept. of Community & Economic Development talk about expanding affordable broadband across the state. And at 2:15 p.m, Wolf and LG John Fetterman head to Urban Churn, on 3rd Street in Harrisburg, to talk about the Pa. Ice Cream Trail. Because, hey, it’s summer. And given the forecast, there are few better ways to beat the heat. We’ll see you there.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to veteran Harrisburg PR guy Kurt Knaus, who celebrates today. Congrats and enjoy the day, sir.  And giant congrats go out to Little Miss Capital-Star, who, gasp, somehow managed to turn 14 right under our nose. Total Proud Dad Time over here.

Heavy Rotation.
This one’s in honor of another birthday boy. Nigel Twist, former drummer for Welsh rockers The Alarm, also celebrates today. Here’s one of our faves, and one that’s appropriate given the day, it’s ‘Rain in the Summertime.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
came roaring back in Game 2 of its Beltway Series with Washingtonbeating the Nats 9-2 on Wednesday night.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

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