Minimum wage, bill on church sex abuse top lawmaker priorities

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The new year marked a new legislative session at the state Capitol, and there are plenty of issues lawmakers are looking to tackle in the months ahead. 

Each seems to have their own ideas for what’s most important, but every year, there’s one constant: passing an on-time budget.

“I would like to see us try and get a budget done, try and get a budget done on time, if that’s possible,” state Rep.Louis Schmitt (R-Blair) said.

Sen. Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) says he has other goals he’d like to accomplish.

“Number one, raising the minimum wage,” Haywood  said. “Twenty states have raised their minimum wage in 2019.”

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) plans to reintroduce a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour by 2024.

“If the Republicans don’t like it, let’s just have a conversation about a number that will be more than $7.25 an hour,” Kim said.

Other lawmakers are looking to tackle tax policy and government reform. 

The top priority of Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) is legislation to create a two-year window for child sexual abuse victims to sue in cases where the limitation period has expired. 

Victims currently have until age 30 to file a lawsuit. Extending that time limit was a recommendation of the statewide grand jury that investigated child sexual abuse by priests in six Roman Catholic dioceses. 

“We will be back at these steps next year and every year that follows until we get that window done,” Rozzi said.

Lawmakers were sworn in on New Year’s Day but have no voting sessions scheduled until January 15.

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