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Minimum wage discussed at symposium

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Graham Simmons, of Norris, McLaughlin,and Marcus, P.A., discusses minimum wage proposals during a pre-emptive symposium conducted Tuesday by the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, along with the Northampton Area…
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Graham Simmons, of Norris, McLaughlin,and Marcus, P.A., discusses minimum wage proposals during a pre-emptive symposium conducted Tuesday by the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, along with the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Bath Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nazareth Business Council.
Published January 14. 2015 04:00PM

The potential minimum wage increase is a hot-button topic here in Pennsylvania.

To further accentuate that point, a minimum wage pre-emptive symposium was conducted Tuesday by the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, along with the Northampton Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Bath Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nazareth Business Council as part of a joint luncheon at The Other Side Restaurant in Neffs.

Graham Simmons of Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus, P.A., a member of the public policy committee for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the minimum wage subcommittee, presented the program.

Simmons discussed the pros and cons of the increase, including timing, and the effects an increase may have on small and large businesses in the Lehigh Valley.

Subcommittee formed

In light of the election results in November, Simmons noted that the GLVCC formed a minimum wage subcommittee.

He said a number of changes went into effect Jan. 1.

"There are a variety of proposals out there as to what to do with minimum wage," Simmons said.

Pennsylvania's minimum wage rate is $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum wage.

Simmons then discussed several federal minimum wage requirements, such as the enterprise level and the individual level.

He shared data from the State Department of Labor and Industry as to who makes minimum wage.

Simmons said incoming Gov. Tom Wolf has said he would like to see the minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour, and indexing it to inflation.

Federal proposals

There are several federal level proposals, the most well-known of which is the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, Simmons said.

"I think it is very likely to come up again," he said. "It's very much on the table."

The most recent proposal at the federal level is the Original Living Wage Act of 2014, Simmons said.

"We're seeing it more move away from more objective standards to poverty level, living wage," he said.

State level proposals

Simmons also briefly alluded to several state/house level proposals.

He mentioned Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1317, as well as Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1300.

Where it's headed

Simmons said the GLVCC's public policy committee has been working on a minimum wage position.

"Whatever we come up with is not going to make everyone happy," he said. "This is a very hot topic."

The GLVCC will release its position in a couple of weeks, Simmons said.

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