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Capitol Notebook

Gov. Tom Wolf preps his 2020 budget, Kobe controversy and more

For the sixth-straight year, the governor wants to increase Pennsylvania’s wage floor from $7.25 an hour to $12.

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Kalim A. Bhatti/Philadelphia Inquirer

THE BUDGET COMETH

1,000,000. That’s about how many minimum wage workers would be eligible for a raise under Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2020-21 budget, which he will officially unveil Tuesday. Wolf previewed parts of his proposal across the state last week, and on his wish list for the sixth-straight year is increasing Pennsylvania’s wage floor from $7.25 an hour to $12, and eventually up to $15. But Republicans in the legislature remain opposed.

Wolf’s budget would also:

Wolf is scheduled to deliver his budget address at 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol. His speech will be streamed live at governor.pa.gov/live.

CONTROVERSY OVER KOBE

In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death and a “heartbroken” message from Wolf, state Sen. Katie Muth (D., Montgomery) tweeted that the NBA legend’s “talent does not override or neutralize the fact that he was charged with rape.” That set off a firestorm in the progressive lawmaker’s mentions, but the conflict wasn’t contained to the internet. Muth also objected to a condolence resolution offered by state Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery).

“I had several calls from survivors,” Muth told Spotlight PA. “We are still having difficulty talking about sexual violence.”

She added that there were objections to the resolution’s proponent, Leach, who has been accused of sexual assault. Leach vehemently denies the decades-old accusation, and he is suing his accuser, two of her supporters, the Inquirer, and a Spotlight PA reporter.

An aide to Leach told PennLive the resolution’s fate is “up in the air.”

Muth is a survivor of sexual assault and has introduced #MeToo-inspired legislation. One bill would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements when lawmakers are credibly accused of sexual harassment and would regulate professional behavior in the legislature.

A VETO — AND A LAWSUIT

The state Senate voted 28-21 last Monday to place a hold on the closures of the Polk and White Haven State Centers for people with disabilities. Over the objections of Democrats and Republicans who represent the areas where the centers are located, Wolf will veto the bill. “Governor Wolf agrees that we can continue to improve our community-based care system,” his spokesperson said in an email Tuesday. “Disability experts overwhelmingly agree that community-based care is preferred over institutionalization.”

Wolf’s administration said residents at the centers will be immediately placed with a community provider, or, if they choose, at another state center. When — or if — that will happen is unclear: The state is facing a federal civil rights lawsuit to stop the closures, according to Erie News Now.

GOOD FOR VOTERS, TOUGH FOR COUNTIES

In 2019, the General Assembly passed a sweeping overhaul of how Pennsylvanians can vote. Among the changes was a provision that will allow anyone to vote by mail-in ballot. While these changes are good for voters, counties are feeling the crunch, WITF reported.

Capitol Notebook by Spotlight PA provides updates on important news and notes from the halls of power in Harrisburg.