House Passes $15 Minimum Wage Bill
Plus: Portland mulls an anti-mask law, solar companies hoard panels before tax credits expire, and 2020 candidates have some plans.
The House passed the Raise the Wage Act yesterday in a mostly party-line vote, more than doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
"Today we wake up for a day of jubilation because of the sense of fairness this legislation engenders," gushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) on the House floor. "We wake up with a smile on our face, showing the world with all the love in our hearts, and that love in our hearts is about fairness for the American people."
Thursday's legislation would phase in the new $15 standard over a period of seven years. The minimum wage would then increase annually by the same percentage as the country's median wage, as determined by the U.S. secretary of labor.
Democrats' minimum wage legislation also makes some policy changes. It gets rid of waivers that allowed employers to pay disabled workers less than the statutory minimum wage. The bill also does away with the lower rate for tipped employees.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing a $15 minimum wage nation-wide would increase pay for 17 million workers, but would also cost another 1.3 million workers their jobs.
Labor groups cheered the minimum wage hike:
Today's victory in passing the #RaiseTheWage Act belongs to workers—starting with the fast food workers who first walked off their jobs in 2012. This is a historic step forward, but we can't and won't stop fighting until a living wage is a reality for every worker! #FightFor15
— Economic Policy Institute (@EconomicPolicy) July 18, 2019
Other voices were decidedly more skeptical.
"Passing a $15 per hour minimum wage represents the triumph of good intentions over good policy," said Michael Farren, a researcher at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, in a statement. "The CBO's recent report used 11 studies of the minimum wage's impact on all workers. Eight out of the 11 studies found mild to severe negative employment impacts of the minimum wage."
A study of Seattle's $15 minimum wage, passed in 2014, found that more-experienced low-wage workers saw their pay increased as a result of the law. Less-experienced workers saw higher hourly wages but reduced hours. And workers entering the labor market found it more difficult to find a job, resulting in a net wage decrease, according to the same study.
The Raise the Wage Act now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is unlikely to pass.
Officials in Portland, Oregon, are chewing over the idea of banning mask-wearing at protests, hoping that this will curb the city's political street violence, reports The Wall Street Journal. The city has made national headlines for its clashes between left- and right-wing demonstrators.
Covering one's face is a practice commonly associated with left-wing "Antifa" protestors. Recently, masked protestors assaulted journalist Andy Ngo in downtown Portland.
In July, Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw called for an anti-mask law, saying at a news conference that "a lot of people are emboldened because they know they can't be identified."
The ACLU of Oregon has strongly condemned such a proposal. "A policy that prohibits wearing a mask to a protest not only risks chilling First Amendment–protected activities, particularly for those who wear 'masks' for political and religious reasons, it misses the issue entirely," a spokeswoman for the organization told the Journal.
Renewable energy companies are stocking up on solar panels in preparation for the expiration of a federal tax credit for solar installations. Reports Reuters:
Duke Energy, 8minute Solar Energy and Shell-backed Silicon Ranch are among those working to claim the full subsidy, which is available to firms that either start construction or spend 5% of a project's capital cost by the end of 2019….North Carolina-based Duke, for example, plans to claim the maximum credit on as much as 2 gigawatts worth of panels. That is enough to power 380,000 homes, even though some of those projects might not go online for years.
The Chinese company Trina Solar estimates that 20 percent of current demand for U.S. solar panels is driven by tax considerations.
Federal tax credits for solar investment have existed since the 1970s. These credits have often been envisioned as temporary programs, but Congress has a history of extending them rather than let them sunset.
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- Speaking of plans, former Vice President Joe Biden has some ideas for fixing rural America.
- Campaign workers for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) are demanding a $15 minimum wage.
- Big money Democratic donors are lining up behind Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, reports Politico.
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- The State Department is trying to evict a San Francisco couple from a $15 million mansion that once served as an Iranian consulate.
- Jeffery Epstein is denied bail.
- A Philadelphia man shimmies down the outside of a 19-story building to avoid fire.