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BPAA Biweekly State Policy Updates - February 11

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  • Illinois Senate OKs Minimum Wage Hike to $15 by 2025: The Illinois Senate passed a measure hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025, hoping to give rookie Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) a big win during his first month in office. The proposed law attempts to soften the potential economic blow for small employers by offering a payroll tax credit for businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. The Senate Feb. 7 approved Senate Bill 1 by a vote of 39-18. The measure now heads to the House, which passed a $15 minimum wage bill in 2017 and was vetoed by former governor Bruce Rauner (R). Pritzker, who campaigned for governor last year promising voters the first minimum wage increase since 2010, called on the House to take swift action. Senate sponsors had hoped to move the bill quickly, giving Pritzker an opportunity to sign the bill before his Feb. 20 budget address. Pritzker stressed the importance of the tax component, saying “small business tax credits will help ensure suburban and downstate business and nonprofits are able to offset the offering of higher wages to their employees.”
    • From $8.25 to $15 Per Hour: S.B. 1 boosts the minimum wage in several stages over six years. Illinois’ current minimum wage of $8.25 per hour would rise to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2020, and $10 on July 1, 2020. The minimum wage would then climb $1 per hour on the first day of subsequent years, reaching $15 on Jan. 1, 2025. The bill creates a separate scale for teens working fewer than 650 hours per calendar year. The current rate of $7.75 per hour for workers under 18 would climb to $8 on Jan. 1, 2020 and $8.50 on July 1, 2020. The teen wage would eventually hit $13 on Jan. 1, 2025. S.B. 1 creates a seven-year tax credit scheme, which permits employers with 50 or fewer employees to claim a credit against payroll taxes that would otherwise be remitted to the Department of Revenue. The credit would be valued at 25 percent of applicable payroll taxes for 2020, dropping to: 21 percent in 2021; 17 percent in 2022; 13 percent in 2023; 9 percent in 2024; and 5 percent in 2025. 
    • Tip Credit for Restaurants: S.B. 1 offers a 60-40 tip credit. The provision allows restaurants to pay tipped workers 60 percent of the minimum wage, unless the worker’s tips fail to make up the remaining 40 percent to reach the minimum wage target. The proposed law creates new penalties for employers violating record-keeping and wage payment rules. It also grants new audit authorities for the state Department of Labor. The Illinois Restaurant Association was one of the few business groups to support S.B. 1. Most employer and commercial organizations blasted senators for failing to address their concerns as the bill was drafted. Some groups had called on Senate sponsors to create an eight-year ramp for the $15 goal. Others called for a regional differential, permitting small communities to operate under a lighter wage regime.
    • Read editorial on minimum wage hike- Paging Milton Friedman: How the big minimum wage hike could hurt Illinois workers
  • Murphy signs bill to boost New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15: Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Monday, Feb. 4, that will gradually raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for most workers by 2024, making it the fourth state to approve a policy that not long ago was considered a pipe dream in Democratic circles. This bill signing culminates more than a year of negotiations and is a major victory for Murphy and the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature. It also puts New Jersey on a growing list of blue states — California, Massachusetts and New York, as well as the District of Columbia — that have authorized such a jump in the minimum wage. The new law will boost the state’s hourly pay for most low-wage workers to $15 by Jan. 1, 2024. Murphy estimated that by that year, minimum wage workers in New Jersey will be making, cumulatively, $13,000 more a year than they are making now.
    • Under the new law, the current $8.85 statewide minimum wage will rise to $10 an hour on July 1, 2019, and to $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020. It would then increase by $1 an hour every Jan. 1 until reaching $15 on Jan. 1, 2024.
    • Some sectors of the workforce, like farmworkers, seasonal workers and employees at small businesses, will have to wait longer to reach the $15 threshold. The bill also raises the tipped wage from $2.13 an hour to $5.13 an hour. Under the law, workers must make the minimum wage when tips are included, otherwise the employer has to make up the difference. Read more at Politico.
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf: Minimum wage increase to $12 would give a raise to 1 million Pennsylvanians: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is again seeking to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025, even though the issue has for years been opposed by Republicans who control both legislative chambers. Wolf, a Democrat, on Wednesday proposed raising the state’s current minimum of $7.25 — the same as the federal minimum — on a sliding scale, starting with a bump to $12 this July. It would rise by 50 cents every year until 2025, when it would be $15. The wage would increase with the cost of living every year after that. At a press conference in the state Capitol, Wolf noted that 29 states have a higher minimum wage than the one set at the federal level. That includes all of Pennsylvania’s surrounding states, according to data complied by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Raising the wage just to $12 an hour, Wolf said, would give a raise to 1 million Pennsylvania workers. Read more at Post-Gazette.
  • Virginia Senate kills bill to raise minimum wage in a party-line vote: A Senate bill that would have raised Virginia’s minimum wage is dead -- much to the dismay of more than two dozen advocates who braved the cold to rally for the bill Monday morning. Introduced by Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, SB 1200 would have increased the minimum wage to $10 on July 1 and eventually to $15 in July 2021. It was defeated Monday afternoon in a 19-21 party-line vote. “It’s been 10 years since Virginia workers received an increase in wages,” Dance said. “Meanwhile, the price of everyday goods continues to go up. In 2009, the average price for a gallon of gas in America was $1.78 -- today, it’s $2.41.” There are 30 states with a minimum wage higher than Virginia’s $7.25 -- which is the federal minimum wage. Speaking in opposition of the bill, Sens. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, and Thomas Norment, R-James City, argued that SB 1200 would hurt businesses and working Virginians. Red more at WHSV.
  • Baltimore Sun reports - Maryland lawmakers hear hours of testimony on $15 minimum wage bill, seek 'sweet spot' of salary solution: Maryland lawmakers heard hours of conflicting testimony Friday on whether to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour. The lengthy afternoon hearing was the first step in what’s expected to be one of the most significant policy debates during this General Assembly session. Proponents of raising the wage — which is $10.10 per hour — said it would help lift hard-working employees out of poverty and give them a chance at financial stability. Opponents countered that increasing wages would be a burden that some employers wouldn’t be able to handle, forcing them to lay off workers or close their doors. Read more at Baltimore Sun.


  • Bloomberg Government reports - Business Tax Cut Likely to Trigger in 2019, Florida Governor Says: Business tax cuts weren’t among the Florida budget proposals that newly inaugurated Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) unveiled Feb. 1, but he predicted a rate cut is likely for 2019 anyway. An automatic, temporary cut to the state’s corporate income tax rate is likely to be triggered based on the growth of corporate tax collections thus far in fiscal year 2018-19, DeSantis told reporters during the budget announcement. In the meantime, the governor proposed about $290 million of property tax relief through millage rate reductions, plus sales tax holidays estimated to reduce taxes by $45 million. The potential corporate rate cut is a part of the state’s response to the 2017 federal tax law, which many business-side tax advocates said would result in unintentional state-level tax increases if states fully followed the new federal tax code. Florida enacted the rate-cut trigger in 2018 to limit the impact on business taxpayers, while the state further studied how to respond to the federal changes, such as limits on business deductions of net interest expense and taxation of certain foreign income.
  • Bloomberg Government reports - Kansas Bill Would Return Federal Tax-Reform Windfall to Taxpayers: An estimated $191 million Kansas revenue windfall tied to the federal tax overhaul would be returned to the taxpayers under a bill approved Feb. 7 by the state Senate. The bill, S.B. 22, would provide $50 million in relief to individual taxpayers and nearly $140 million in relief to corporations and businesses at a time the state’s economy has improved after years of declining revenues and missed revenue forecasts.
    • But the measure faces a likely veto from Gov. Laura Kelly (D), who has made it clear she wants to use the funds to increase state support for priorities she says were neglected after the 2012 tax cuts enacted by former Gov. Sam Brownback (R). In a statement after the Senate gave first-round approval of the bill, Kelly said, the legislature should be focusing on education, “not another irresponsible tax plan.”
    • But Senate President Susan Wagle (R), who has shepherded the bill through the Senate, said it was necessary to ensure that Kansas taxpayers enjoyed the full benefit of the 2017 federal tax reform. “We want to enhance economic opportunity and increase our state’s competitiveness, not force an unintended tax increase onto hardworking Kansans,” Wagle said during consideration of the bill in the Select Committee on Federal Tax Code Implementation. The vote in favor was 26 to 14, one vote less than would be needed to override a veto. The bill now moves to the House for consideration.
  • Virginia reaches bipartisan tax relief bill: Legislative leaders in both parties came to an agreement that will alleviate a tax burden on Virginians that was unintentionally caused by the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation. The measure was backed my majorities of the House and Senate Finance committees and also has the governor’s support.
    • The bill would provide a one-time refund of $420 million in October to Virginian taxpayers to return additional money generated for the state due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
    • The federal tax reform measure raised the standard deduction, but because state law requires Virginians to take the same federal and state tax status (and the state had a lower standard deduction), many taxpayers were forced to itemize less and pay more in taxes.
    • The legislation will also raise the state’s standard deduction by 50 percent. This will increase the standard deduction for individuals to $4,500 and for couples to $9,000. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act increased its standard deduction in 2017 to $12,000 for individuals and between $13,000 and $24,000 for couples. Read more at


  • New Maryland Sports Betting Bill Could Become Cash Cow For State Lottery: Maryland sports betting could prove highly profitable for the state lottery under a bill introduced late during the week of Feb. 4.
  • Chances For Ohio Sports Betting “Better Than 50-50”, Bill Sponsor Says: The odds are favorable to legalize Ohio sports betting this year, according to one bill sponsor. Ohio Sen. John Eklund tells Legal Sports Report he expects to fill out his placeholder bill for sports betting by the end of February. He feels the good money is on it to pass. “I think the chances are better than 50-50,” Eklund said. “But, remember, I told you that I don’t bet, so I’m not what you would call a reliable handicapper. My feeling – because the number of groups and organizations that have expressed some level of support for this outnumber the groups that have a hell-no attitude – is some measure of confidence that we’ll be able to get it done.”
  • Eklund, a Republican, introduced S 316 along with Democratic Sen. Sean O’Brien to give it bipartisan support. Republican Rep. Dan Greenspan sponsored a companion bill in the House. While he wasn’t ready to share details of the legislation, Eklund gave insight into his mindset on some key points. Read more at Legal Sports Report.


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