COVID-19 Updates and Tracking
Vaccinations: Follow the links here to see a state-by-state guide on vaccination rollout and regulations.
- Americans Are Leaving Unemployment Rolls More Quickly in States Cutting Off Benefits The number of unemployment-benefit recipients is falling at a faster rate in Missouri and 21 other states canceling enhanced and extended payments this month, suggesting that ending the aid could push more people to take jobs.
- Federal pandemic aid bills boosted unemployment payments by $300 a person each week and extended those payments for as long as 18 months, well longer than the typical 26 weeks or less. The benefits are set to expire in early September, but states can opt out before then. Read more at the Wall Street Journal.
- Jobless workers sue states ending $300 unemployment benefits Governors in 26 states opted to end federal pandemic unemployment insurance benefits early and jobless workers in Texas, Indiana and Maryland are suing to have them reinstated immediately. Two nonprofit law firms in Indiana were the first to challenge the governor's order. They got an early victory Monday after a judge ruled that the state must continue paying the enhanced unemployment benefits until the lawsuit was settled. Read more at KATV.
- Reinstating federal unemployment benefits would 'irreparably harm' Hoosiers, state says Hoosiers would be "irreparably harmed" by a judge's order requiring the state to keep federal unemployment benefits flowing because it would hamper Indiana's economic recovery, lawyers with the Indiana Attorney General's Office said Tuesday.. The order was the first major development out of a lawsuit targeting Gov. Eric Holcomb and Department of Workforce Development head Frederick Payne over their decision to cut Indiana's federal pandemic unemployment benefits. Read more at IndyStar.
- Tony Evers vetoes GOP bill seeking to end federal unemployment benefits in Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday vetoed a GOP-authored bill that sought to eliminate Wisconsin’s participation in enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which provide unemployed individuals with an extra $300 per week.
- Republicans and some of the state’s largest business organizations have taken aim at enhanced federal benefits, which are slated to run through Sept. 6, as creating a disincentive to work and exacerbating the ongoing workforce shortage. Read more at Madison State Journal.
Debate continues in Kansas over federal unemployment benefit A recent Wall Street Journal investigation says states that drop the federal unemployment bonus benefits of up to $300 a week may make it tougher to find employees. Another investigation from the New York Times shows there is not a significant change in those states dropping federal enhanced benefits. As the debate continues, some in Kansas continue to push to potentially drop the federal benefit on tap to stay until this fall in the Sunflower State. Read more at KSN.
- Delaware is expected to move to a $15 per hour minimum wage. What that could mean for the push to increase the national pay rate Delaware’s minimum pay rate may increase to $15 per hour by 2025 once a new law is signed by Gov. John Carney.
- The state is the latest to join the push for a higher pay, even as efforts to change the federal minimum wage have stalled in Congress.
- While Delaware’s move isn’t expected to accelerate the trend toward a higher national rate, some small business owners say it’s a positive change. Read more here.
- Relief for Employers: New Pennsylvania Overtime Exemption Minimum Salary Requirements Repealed in State Budget Deal Late last week, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature and Governor Wolf reached a final deal on the state budget for 2021-2022. While annual state budgets typically do not impact employment laws for private employers in the Commonwealth, this one is an exception.
- As part of the overall budget deal, Governor Wolf agreed to a provision repealing the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) regulations published in October 2020 that would have increased significantly the minimum salary requirements for the white-collar overtime exemptions under this law. We previously wrote about these regulations and the impact they would have on Pennsylvania employers. Read more at JD Supra.
- These cities and states just raised their minimum wage Minimum wage workers in various parts of the country got a pay increase Thursday, the first day of the new fiscal year for most state and local governments. The pay raises come just months after Congress failed to raise the $7.25 federal minimum wage to $15. Here are the states and major cities where higher wages kicked in this week:
- Nevada: The state’s minimum wage rose from $8 to $8.75 for workers who receive health benefits through their employer. Those without benefits will now receive a minimum of $9.75 an hour, up from $9. Similar pay increases will continue for the next three years, when the minimum wage will hit $11.
- Oregon: The state’s minimum wage rose to $12.75, an increase of 75 cents.
- Minneapolis Small businesses with less than 100 employees will now have to pay their workers at least $12.50 an hour, an increase of 75 cents from the previous wage. Workers at larger businesses will see hourly pay increase to at least $14.25, up from $13.25.
- See more here at the Hill.
Minimum wage increases take effect Thursday in Minneapolis, St. Paul Workers in the Twin Cities are receiving a slight wage increase Thursday. The minimum wage for all employees in the City of Minneapolis will be going up to at least $12.50 an hour and up to $14.25 for franchises or employers with over 100 employees. Separately, the City of St. Paul is raising their minimum wage to $12.50 for large businesses (100+ employees), $11.00 for small businesses (6-100 employees), and $10.00 for macro businesses (5 or fewer employees). Certain youth workers and youth trainees may be subject to a lower minimum wage rate in St. Paul. Read more at KARE.
Tax and Budget Updates
- Ohio Doles Out $1.6 Billion Income Tax Cut in Budget Ohio slashed income taxes—with big benefits for the wealthy—and provided several business-focused tax breaks in a bipartisan budget bill Gov. Mike DeWine signed Thursday. DeWine (R), who last year considered dipping into Ohio’s rainy day fund, called the tax cuts (H.B. 110) “an investment into the Ohio people.” The move continues a decade of tax overhauls that dropped the state from nine income tax brackets down to four. Effective immediately, the measure eliminates the top bracket (4.797% on earnings over $221,300); cuts the state’s highest remaining bracket to 3.99% from 4.4%; and reduces taxes on remaining brackets by 3%. Read more at Bloomberg.
- Wisconsin Republicans Tout Tax Cuts in $87.5 Billion Budget The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature approved a two-year, $87.5 billion budget that would cut individual and corporate taxes by more than $3 billion, despite concerns Democratic Gov. Tony Evers might strip out some of the tax provisions. The Senate approved the 2021-23 biennial budget, A.B. 68, by a vote of 23-9 late Wednesday. The measure cleared the Assembly on Tuesday by a vote of 64-34.
- Republicans touted their commitment to tax relief, blasting Evers for presenting a $91 billion spending proposal earlier this year that included $1 billion in tax increases and excessive spending on education, social programs, and Medicaid expansion.
- The budget includes language cutting the third bracket of the individual income tax schedule from the current 6.27% rate to 5.3%. The bracket applies to married filers earning between $31,910 and $351,310 annually. The change would provide $2.37 billion back to taxpayers over two years, according to a legislative fiscal analysis. Read more at Bloomberg.
- Minnesota House, Senate approve bill giving nearly a billion dollars in tax cuts Early Thursday morning the Minnesota House and Senate both approved a $944 million tax bill that lawmakers are confident will aid in the state's economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The DFL-controlled House approved its tax bill just after 1 a.m. Thursday morning, followed by the Senate hours later. The bill excludes proposed tax hikes and the creation of a fifth-tier income tax brackets, items proposed by Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota House.
- Business owners will see lower property taxes if the bill is approved by Walz. It also will refill state coffers with nearly $500 million borrowed from the budget reserve two years ago.
Another highlight of the bill is the Frontline Worker Grant program, which recommends $250 million in direct-cash payments to those who worked through the COVID pandemic, like nurses and grocery store employees. A committee of lawmakers has been tasked with defining who will qualify for the payments and how much money will go to each worker. Read more at KARE11.