The Pennsylvania Budget season hath commence and the Senate is gearing up to vote on a bill that keeps the hamster wheel that is poverty spinning and spinning. Senate Bill 1265 was introduced on May 13th, voted out of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on May 18th and is now sitting at second consideration. A floor vote on the bill can come as early as tomorrow and the bill will amend the Commonwealth’s Wage Payment and Collection Act to make fee latent payroll debit cards a lawful form of payment.
Senator Don White began circulating a cosponsorship memorandum in August 2015, two months after McDonald’s employees won a class action lawsuit against a local franchise. Senator White’s bill does nothing to address the root causes of poverty running through Pennsylvania’s urban and rural areas, but his altruism will allow poor people to skip “cashing paychecks and other checks” because “time and money that many lower income individuals don’t have.”
The disconnect between the Harrisburg Group Think and everyone else living outside of the capitol beltway is even larger. Senator White’s dear colleagues memo claims to protect employees by “limiting fees,” but there is only one protection in the bill. Poor people will be granted one fee free withdrawal per pay period and they will be able to withdrawal any amount of money that is up to or below that week’s paycheck in order to have walking around money or to put that money into their bank accounts. All other fees associated with these cards will be left up to card companies or the banks to decide.
Sadly, actual policy – like increasing the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour – to help break the cycle of poverty that is ravaging inner cities and the “forgotten” parts of Pennsylvania has been sitting in the Senate’s Labor and Industry Committee for the past year and a half. The only action this bill has seen was a committee hearing over a year and a month a ago. Meanwhile, a bill that is designed to redistribute the wealth from the state’s neediest to the greediest can move through a legislature with blinding speed.
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