Governor’s budget address
Gov. Wolf in February made a brief budget address, which included $1 billion in extra spending. His proposal includes the following provisions of interest:
Increase in the minimum wage to $12/hour.
An additional $100 million for public schools, $40 million for early childhood education, $20 million for special education, $15 million for state universities, and $50 million for job training.
The earmarks for tourism were eliminated and the tourism office was flat-funded at $4.067 million.
Gov. Wolf proposes overtime changes
Gov. Wolf has announced, because of federal inaction, his intention to update Pennsylvania’s overtime regulations to eventually be as broad-sweeping as the Obama Administration’s proposal. His plan, scheduled to be officially released in March, would increase the overtime eligibility threshold from $23,660 to $47,892 over the course of four years. The threshold would adjust every three years after that.
By the time you read this magazine, we will likely have new congressional districts in place—which could mean some significant shifts in who will have an edge in those running for Congress this year.
Senate committee held online travel company loophole hearing
A hearing was held on SB 721 (Reschenthaler—R, Allegheny), which would require online travel companies to remit tax on the retail cost of a hotel room and dedicate the monies from the loophole to statewide tourism promotion. The Department of Revenue believes that $20 million in new revenue, for tourism promotion, would be realized by closing the loophole. We are currently working on making some technical changes to the bill and hope it moves to the Senate later this spring.
Hearing on preemption of employer mandates scheduled
The House Labor & Industry Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on HB 861 (Grove—R, York). This legislation, which PRLA supports, preempts municipalities from passing employer mandates ranging from leave, scheduling, and a variety of other issues.
Department of Labor & tip pooling
The Department of Labor has a proposed regulation that would allow restaurants who pay minimum wage or more (and do not take the tip credit) to tip pool with back-of-house employees. The goal of this regulatory change is to allow for parity between BOH and FOH pay. The industry does not support managers or non-hourly staff sharing in tips.
PA. Supreme Court to look at Pittsburgh paid leave case
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has decided to review one portion of our lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh. It has combined our suit with the BOMA case, which relates to security guard training. The City of Pittsburgh and SEIU’s brief were submitted on February 15 and PRLA’s response is due March 15. Oral arguments will be scheduled later this year.
Final 2017 numbers are in for Philadelphia Beverage Tax revenue
December beverage tax revenues amounted to $6.5 million, bringing the total revenue for 2017 to $78.8 million—$11.2 million short of the $90 million goal.
Philadelphia Council to hold hearings on scheduling resolution
Councilwoman Gym introduced a resolution authorizing the Committee on Children and Youth to hold hearings on “unpredictable schedules” and the impact they have on children and families. The hearing was held at the end of February.
Philadelphia Council introduces sodium labeling legislation
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has introduced legislation that requires any “chain restaurant” to place a large sodium warning label beside any menu item that exceeds 2,300 mg of sodium. The legislation is expected to be considered later this year. •
PRLA Three-Year Plan
On January 23, PRLA’s Alcohol Service, Government Affairs, and Lodging & Tourism committees met to review and update the association’s legislative agenda. This year’s priorities are as follows:
Top priorities with goal of final passage
Close the online travel company loophole
Online home sharing legislation
Tie an increase in the tourism line-item to the potential $50 million that would come to the state from the above
Develop a strategy relating to the Governor’s proposed overtime regulations
Hold an alcohol service retreat to determine PRLA’s future priorities relating to alcohol reform, privatization and licensing
Continue to work with the PLCB on shipment of SLOs and regular products
Research and start coalition building on “Keep Summers Sacred” legislation
Research how other states handle service animals
Stay apprised of legislative and policy changes going into the new session