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Philly Dems Say Pennsylvania GOPs are Legislatively Picking on City

State representatives are seated before the taking the oath of office during swearing-in ceremonies at the Pennsylvania Capitol Senate Chambers on Jan. 3, 2017, in Harrisburg, Pa. (Dan Gleiter /PennLive.com via AP)

“I’m very concerned,” Philadelphia City Council president Darrell Clarke (D) told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I can’t tell if this is based on politics, if it’s based on policy or if it’s based on concerns about state aid or if it’s based on special-interest lobbying. But at the end of the day, it’s problematic.”

Republicans told the Inquirer nothing could be further from the truth. The GOP lawmakers pointed out that the legislature sends hundreds of millions of tax dollars to Philadelphia every year.

If they wanted to put the Democrats in a bind, why would the Republicans do that?

Here’s the legislation Philly Democrats have a problem with: First, there is a GOP-sponsored measure seeking to expand wage equity protections for women.

Senate Bill 241 allows employers to determine wages based on the level or amount of education, training or experience and prohibits employer discrimination against an employee who files a complaint.

“This legislation will provide uniform, transparent standards to identify and target cases in which women are unfairly being paid less than male employees,” said Sen. Tom McGarrigle (R), the bill’s sponsor.

“With clear standards, and protections for women who file complaints, we can better ensure that workers are being paid based on fair standards and not their gender,” he added in a statement.

What could Philadelphia Democrats possibility not like about that?

McGarrigle said the bill also prohibits employers from requiring that workers not disclose their salary.

Democrats said that provision also would stop Philadelphia’s month-old law that prevents bosses from asking job applicants about their salary history.

Senate Bill 241 was approved by the Senate on Feb. 8. It now goes to the House for consideration.

There is also the matter of legislation that would cut off $1.3 billion in state subsidies to so-called sanctuary cities like Philadelphia. The bill doesn’t list the cities by name. But Philadelphia officials have made no secret of their desire to not always honor detention requests from ICE.

Senate Bill 10 prohibits governing bodies such as counties or municipalities from adopting rules or ordinances that contradict federal immigration policy.

SB10 would require cities and counties to honor detainer requests from ICE for persons of interest arrested by local authorities.

“Sanctuary cities are dangerous and irresponsible. 1,800 crimes in 2014, including over 121 murders in a few-year span, is a steep price to pay so that sanctuary city legislators can score cheap political points,” Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R), the sponsor of SB 10, said.

The bill passed with a bipartisan and veto-proof majority 37-12 on Feb. 7. It is now in a House committee.

Assuming it wins House approval, Senate Bill 10 could mean the loss of $638 million in state funding for Philadelphia and $9 million for Pittsburgh.

And then there is Senate-approved legislation that would void Philly’s two-year-old law that forces employers with more than 10 employees to provide at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Senate Bill 128 sponsors Sen. John Eichelberger (R) and Sen. Lisa Boscola (R) maintained their proposal was not motivated by a desire to interfere in Philadelphia politics. Instead, both said SB 128 was intended to stop Philadelphia from enacting laws that could be confusing to businesses with more than one location in Pennsylvania.

However, the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out in a Jan. 31 editorial that businesses often have to deal with a variety of local rules and regulations on everything from zoning to taxing.

And as for Philly’s sick leave law: “We are also tempted to point out that state lawmakers get gold-plated health insurance, generous per diems and other perks that belie the fact that they are considered one of the most overpaid and underworked lawmaking bodies in the country,” the Inquirer opined.

Sen. Vincent Hughes (D) told the Inquirer the GOP-controlled legislature is being completely hypocritical in its attitude toward Philadelphia.

“They want to deny the funding and support that is needed, and deny the city’s ability to make decisions about its future,” said Hughes. “On the other hand, they want to send their family members there to suck off the cultural, academic and economic teat that the city provides. That is hypocrisy.”