Pa. House Democrats Advance Compromise Bill to Raise the Minimum Wage

Activists with Our Revolution hold $15 minimum wage signs outside the US Capitol complex in February 2021, to call on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. (CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images/Bill Clark)

By Sean Kitchen

June 14, 2023

Pennsylvania House Democrats advanced a bill out of the House Labor and Industry Committee to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. The bill raises the tipped minimum wage and sets the minimum wage to inflation.

Pennsylvania residents have waited since 2009 for an increase to the minimum wage, but that wait may end soon. During that time, all of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states have increased their minimum wages from anywhere between $8.25 to $14.20 per hour.  

House Democrats advanced a bill increasing the minimum wage out of the House Labor and Industry Committee on Tuesday. House Bill 1500 increases the Pennsylvania minimum wage in three stages from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2026.

Earlier in the year, The Patriot News reported that Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a $15 minimum wage in his budget address that would take effect by Jan. 2024.  

The bill sets the tipped minimum wage to 60% of the regular minimum wage and starting in 2027, it indexes the minimum wage to inflation.  

HB 1500 passed out of committee by a party-line 12-9 vote and it is the companion bill to Sen. Dan Laughlin’s (R-Erie) minimum wage legislation. Laughlin is the chair of the Republican Senate Policy Committee.

Rep. Mike Jones (R-York), who voted against the bill, asked for an exception for minors. 

“The work experience is much more important for most of them than is the wage itself, especially kids that are still living at home,” he said. 

Jones also suggested that restaurant workers may be against the minimum wage increase because it will affect their tips.

Rep. Roni Green (D-Philadelphia) countered these claims, explaining that One Fair Wage, an organization that represents 300,000 service workers, supports an increase in the minimum wage plus tips because they’re not receiving the tips they once received.

“With a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, what do we tell people to help raise their children, to pay childcare, to buy food, to pay rent?” Green asked. “It is time now to have a minimum wage increase in the state of Pennsylvania because there hasn’t been one in 14 years … So we can say that people are going to lose jobs, but that hasn’t been proven either.”           

The Republican-crafted bill excludes priorities progressives have been advocating for over the past several years. The bill doesn’t include pre-emption language allowing cities with higher standards of living, such as Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, to set their own minimum wages.

In a press release following the vote, Labor and Industry Committee Chair Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia) acknowledged that the bill is a compromise. He said “The people of the commonwealth deserve fair compensation for their work, and this is a step in that direction. But make no mistake, this is a compromise. If it was entirely up to Democrats, we would begin with a higher minimum wage for working people, because that’s what we believe in — people.”

Despite House Republicans’ best efforts, however, the proposed increase would apply to all minimum wage workers. During Wednesday’s floor debate on the bill, 100 House Republicans voted in favor of an amendment keeping the minimum wage for children under 18 years old at $7.25 per hour. Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware) was the only Republican to vote against the amendment that was offered by Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Westmorland).

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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