Subscribe to this e-update.
Boscola Bulletin

Senate Approves Increase in State Minimum Wage

Legislation that would raise the state minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2022 was approved by the Senate last Wednesday and was sent to the House and was referred to the House Labor and Industry Committee on November 22nd.

Senate Bill 79 represents a compromise package that will phase in increases to the current $7.25 minimum wage rate incrementally as follows:

  • July 1, 2020: $8.00
  • January 1, 2021: $8.50
  • July 1, 2021: $9.00
  • January 1, 2022: $9.50

It's far past time to raise the wage

The federal minimum wage was last increased to $7.25 an hour in 2009. Pennsylvania is one of 21 states with a minimum wage set at the federal minimum.  Pennsylvania hasn’t raised the minimum wage in over 13 years so any progress – any steps in doing so – are steps in the right direction, in my opinion. ALL of our neighboring states from Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey to New York have already raised the minimum wage.

Approximately 759,000 workers will be directly and indirectly impacted.

  • The number of workers in the state that would be directly affected from the full phase-in to $9.50/hour (meaning those workers earning below $9.50/hour) is estimated at 399,300.
  • The number of workers that would be indirectly affected (meaning those workers earning slightly above $9.50/hour) is estimated to be 359,700


The minimum wage has always impacted both entry level wages and many lower-wage jobs held by adults for a career. The problem is the minimum wage doesn’t buy what it used to, pulling down wages in both entry level and career jobs.

  • In 1968, the minimum wage in Pennsylvania was set at just over half (51%) the value of the median wage ($1.60 compared to $3.15) for full-time full-year workers.
  • The minimum wage in 2018 is less than 32% of median wage ($7.25 compared to $22.93) – its lowest point since the last time Pennsylvania raised the minimum wage in 2006.

Fun piece of trivia:

DYK…Daryll Clark was the Penn State QB last time PA raised the minimum wage?**…

Senate Approves Bill to Make Online Training Available to Firefighters 

Last week, the Senate voted to approve a measure in an effort to help address the declining ranks of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania by making firefighter training more accessible and affordable through online courses.

Senate Bill 146 ensures that online training would be voluntary and free to both career and volunteer firefighters. All available courses would be listed online and developed under the leadership of the state Fire Commissioner.

Firefighters Training requirements are often cited as a barrier to recruitment and retention, particularly for volunteers, because they can be costly and time-consuming, often demanding travel and time away from work and family. Senate Bill 146 was sent to the Governor to be signed into law. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2015 and 2017 there was a 20 percent personnel decrease among career and volunteer firefighters in communities across the nation. The Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute reports that the number of volunteer firefighters in the state has gone from approximately 300,000 in the 1970’s to just 38,000 in 2018 — despite the state’s population rising from 11.8 million in 1970 to 12.8 million in 2018.

In 2017, Senate Resolution 6 was approved to form a statewide commission to examine the crisis facing both firefighters and EMS personnel. The commission’s report concluded that more resources, funds, and legislative changes are needed to help maintain sufficient firefighting and EMS services in Pennsylvania.

Firefighters –and especially younger, tech-savvy firefighters-in-training --have often requested that a portion of their training be offered online, so that they have the opportunity to learn vital skills from the convenience of their own homes, at times most suitable for them and their busy schedules.

While some fire training must clearly be hands-on and in-person, many forms of training can be executed effectively online – this bill, which will allow online training developed under the Office of State Fire Commissioner, will NOT replace current training, however be:

  • Voluntary
  • Offered at no personal expense to firefighters, and
  • Open to both volunteer and career firefighters.

Consumer Warning: Pennsylvania Dog Owners Beware of Fraudulent Dog License Website

dogsThe Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement warned Pennsylvania dog owners looking to purchase new or renewal licenses of a fraudulent website selling dog licenses online.

According to Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, the best way to ensure that you’re completing an official transaction is to start on licenseyourdogpa.pa.gov.

Most recently, the Department has identified www.padoglicense.online as selling fake PA dog licenses and even paying search engines to appear at the top of search results pages for common terms, like “Pennsylvania dog license” or “renew PA dog license”.

Here are some tips to help customers ensure that they are on an official website:

  • Rather than using a search engine to reach a website to purchase a dog license, type www.licenseyourdogpa.pa.gov directly into your browser’s address bar;
  • When in doubt, call your county treasurer’s office. Each county treasurer has a different process; while most offer an online option for purchase of licenses, some do not and require a paper form to be dropped off or mailed.

If you have a concern about a third-party website, you can also contact the PA Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555.

Happy Thanksgiving

Every year during the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded of our many blessings. I am thankful for so much—including my family and friends, good health, the men and women who selflessly serve this country, and the opportunity to proudly serve in the Pennsylvania State Senate. 

So, to all of the families, residents and communities of the 18th Senate District across Lehigh Valley, my very best wishes for an enjoyable and safe, meaningful and memorable Thanksgiving holiday.

Some Turkey Day Tips to Keep You Safe this Year

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that nearly 2,400 house fires occur nationwide on Thanksgiving, causing numerous fatalities, injuries, and $19 million in property loss. Many of these home fires are due to deep-frying accidents.

turkeyAccording to the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner, Bruce Trego, more cooking fires occur during the Thanksgiving holiday than any other day of the year; in fact, cooking is the number one cause of house fires in the Commonwealth. Furthermore, Pennsylvania is routinely among the states with the highest number of turkey fryer incidents, and cooking fires – can you believe that!

Here are some tips to keep you, your guests and your property safe:

  • Read the turkey fryer owner’s manual thoroughly for proper set-up and safety tips.
  • Do not deep fry your turkey inside your garage, on your porch or deck, or inside your home.
  • Use your fryer outside, away from trees, walls, fences and other structures.
  • Make sure the turkey is completely thawed before frying (hot oil and ice/water do not mix).
  • Use the correct amount of oil. Overfilled fryers increase the likelihood of oil spilling out of the pot and hitting the burner causing flames to engulf the entire unit.
  • Never leave the fryer unattended. Many fryers lack thermostats to prevent overheating.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fryer.
  • Use proper hand protection. Lids and handles of the cooking pot get dangerously hot, posing severe burn hazards.
  • Have an all-purpose fire extinguisher nearby. Never use water to extinguish an oil fire.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year in the United States. There are more than 250 different types of foodborne illnesses. Common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine indicates that foodborne illnesses are very common, but they are also very preventable - germs that can make you sick grow quickly when food is lukewarm, which is why it is essential to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Knowing the proper ways to prepare and store food will help keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season.
Most people with a foodborne illness get better without medical treatment, but those with severe symptoms should visit their doctor. Some illnesses can cause long-term health problems or even death. Infections spread by food can cause: chronic arthritis; brain and nerve damage; or Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) causing kidney failure.

To prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses, the CDC recommends you remember the following four steps: clean; separate; cook; and chill.

  • Cleaning hands, utensils, countertops, and fresh foods prevents the spread of germs.
  • Separating foods prevents cross-contamination and decreases the spread of germs. For instance, use separate cutting boards and plates for raw meats, vegetables, etc.  Do not store raw meats above cooked foods or vegetables.
  • Cooking foods to the proper temperature prevents foodborne illnesses by ensuring that germs are killed by the high heat.  Use food thermometers.  Different types of food have different temperature requirements.
  • Refrigerating food promptly prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying and making you sick.  Always keep your refrigerator below 40 degree and chill perishable foods within two hours.

Thanksgiving Day Office Closures

For your scheduling purposes over the holiday, my Senate offices will be CLOSED on Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Offices will re-open on Monday, December 2 at 9:00am, as scheduled. 

All Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today driver license and photo centers will be closed Thursday, November 28, through Friday, November 29, in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, as well.

Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services – including all forms, publications and driver training manuals – online through PennDOT’s Driver and Vehicle Services website, www.dmv.pa.gov.   

Driver and vehicle online services are available 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week and include driver’s license, photo ID and vehicle registration renewals; driver-history services; changes of address; driver license and vehicle registration restoration letters; ability to pay driver license or vehicle insurance restoration fee; driver license and photo ID duplicates; and driver exam scheduling. There are no additional fees for using online services.

Mark Your Calendars for the ACA Enrollment Event Dec. 12

Do you need help buying or renewing your federal health insurance?
Come to our event for free enrollment services.

Certified enrollment specialists will be able to walk you through the best and most affordable coverage through the Affordable Care Act or Medicare.

This event is FREE and open to the public.

For ACA enrollment, make sure to bring documentation to verify your annual income (a W-2 or pay stub) AND a driver's license or other government-issued ID.

For more information and details, visit HeathcareForPA.com.

It's far past time to raise the wage

Facebook/Twitter Facebook Twitter Join the Conversation on Facebook and Twitter

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates.

Offices of State Senator Lisa M. Boscola

www.senatorboscola.com

BETHLEHEM OFFICE
One East Broad Street
Suite 120
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 868-8667
Fax: (610) 861-2184
Toll-free: 1-877-535-1818
EASTON OFFICE
1701 Washington Blvd.
Easton, PA 18042
(610) 250-5627
(610) 250-5629
Fax: (610) 250-1889
HARRISBURG OFFICE
458 Main Capitol Building
Senate Box 203018
Harrisburg, PA 17120-3018
(717) 787-4236
Fax: (717) 783-1257
Senate of PA:
1-800-364-158 (TTY)