The Pennsylvania House of Representatives returned to session last week. With budget negotiations still taking shape, lawmakers advanced proposals related to cell phone taxes and the minimum wage. Here is a rundown of what happened last week in the legislature:
Budget negotiations are in full swing in Harrisburg. While there was no legislative movement related to the budget last week, legislative leaders have reportedly begun holding closed-door negotiations to develop a budget plan that can get majority support in the House and Senate,as well as sign-off from Gov. Josh Shapiro.
The House passed a budget bill on June 5 that would add approximately $1.3 billion in additional spending to Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposal. In speaking to reporters early last week, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Indiana) referred to the House-passed budget as an “impossible” number and cautioned against using one-time revenues to increase recurring expenditures.
House Bill 1138 (Cell Phone Taxes)
On Tuesday, House lawmakers unanimously voted to pass House Bill 1138. This bill would exempt cell phone service from the state’s Sales and Use Tax (SUT) and Gross Receipts Tax (GRT).
In addition to creating greater certainty for the business community, the legislation would create a more welcoming tax environment concerning telecommunications services, which will encourage additional private capital investment into the deployment and adoption of mobile communications technology. We supported this legislation in committee (CLICK HERE for our memo); it passed 203-0.
House Bill 1500 (Minimum Wage Increase)
On Tuesday, the House Labor & Industry Committee voted along party lines to advance House Bill 1500. This legislation would increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania from $7.25 to $11 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2024; $13 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2025; $15 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2026 and indexed to inflation after.
The proposal also includes annual cost-of-living increases beginning in 2027 and sets the minimum wage for tipped workers at 60 percent of the hourly minimum wage. The full House considered a number of Republican amendments to this legislation on Wednesday, all of which were voted down, largely along party lines. The bill is expected to be considered for final passage as soon as this week.