Governor puts House on timetable to pass minimum wage bill
Wolf gives says he will give chamber until end of month to give approval
HARRISBURG (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf is putting the state House of Representatives on a timeline to pass legislation he has long sought to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, saying Friday that the Republican-controlled chamber has until the end of the month.
If the House doesn’t pass the bill, Wolf’s office said the Democrat will let a rulemaking board proceed with a vote on a regulatory measure to extend overtime pay eligibility to tens of thousands of workers.
However, Dec. 31 may not necessarily be the final day for the House to act. Wolf’s administration asked the state rule-making board Friday to vote on the proposed regulation at its Jan. 30 meeting. The five-member Independent Regulatory Review Commission has a 3-2 Democratic majority.
After the commission votes, the attorney general’s office has up to 30 days to review the regulation for legality, and then it must be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, an official state publication, to take effect.
The Republican-controlled Senate, in a 42-7 vote, last month approved the legislation raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage in increments o $9.50 an hour in 2022, up from the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
Those provisions are more modest than what Wolf proposed in January and required him to make a number of concessions to win its passage, including relenting on the overtime regulation.
Even then, Pennsylvania’s minimum wage will still lag behind at least 20 other states, while 29 other states have already raised their minimum wages above the federal minimum.
However, the House’s Republican majority has steadfastly opposed raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, and caucus leaders have publicly offered no support for it since a bill passed the Senate on Nov. 20. The bill was sitting in committee Friday without a hearing or vote on it scheduled.
House Labor and Industry Committee Chairman Jim Cox, R-Berks, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment about the bill.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry had brokered a deal to support an increase in the minimum wage in exchange for Wolf agreeing not to expand overtime pay eligibility during his second term.
The chamber has long opposed an increase in the minimum wage, but it viewed Wolf’s regulatory package to expand overtime pay eligibility to tens of thousands of salaried workers as far more expensive for businesses.
The administration’s proposal on overtime pay would expand overtime pay eligibility to 82,000 workers who earn above a new federal threshold that’s rising to almost $36,000 on Jan. 1.
It would phase in the increase over two years and require in 2022 that salaried workers earning up to $45,500 a year get time-and-a-half pay for any time they work over 40 hours in a week.
Pennsylvania’s current threshold is set at the federal baseline of $23,660, although the administration said the rising federal threshold will make 61,000 workers in the state newly eligible for overtime pay.
The current threshold took effect in 2004.