Minimum Wage in America: How Many People are Earning $7.25 an Hour?

President Biden Proposed raising the Federal Minimum Wage to $15.00/hour as part of his $1.9 billion stimulus plan.

Americans have debated where to set the federal minimum wage for decades. President Joe Biden’s proposed stimulus plan aims to increase the federal minimum to $15 an hour, more than doubling the current wage of $7.25. Currently, wages vary by state, with some cities mandating more than double the federal minimum and other states with requirements below $7.25. Employees covered by both state and federal minimum wage laws are entitled to the higher of the two minimums.

How many people earn the federal minimum wage?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 1.6 million workers, or 1.9% of all hourly paid, non-self-employed workers, earned wages at or below the federal minimum wage in 2019. That year, 82.3 million people were paid hourly rates, making up 58.1% of all wage and salary workers in the United States.

Fewer Americans today make the federal minimum wage or less.
In 1980, when the federal minimum wage was $3.10 ($9.86 in 2019 dollars), 13% of hourly workers earned the federal minimum wage or less. Today, only 1.9% of hourly workers do. The number of federal minimum wage workers has decreased from 7.7 million in 1980 to 1.6 million in 2019. This is partly due to states establishing higher minimum wages than the federal level.

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Schnatter report vindicates him, indicts Papa John’s, marketing firm

A former FBI director and federal judge has released a 14-page investigative report into the conduct of Papa John’s International Inc. founder and former CEO John Schnatter.

Former FBI head Louis Freeh released the report on Schnatter’s personal and professional conduct Tuesday. The report, commissioned by Schnatter’s attorneys in summer 2019, is the outcome of a year-long investigation into two key events: the Papa John’s and National Football League controversy of 2017 and the release of a recording of Schnatter using a racial slur during a media training session in 2018.

According to a news release, the investigation addressed comments Schnatter made about the NFL in an earnings call in 2017, and determined that he was “falsely construed as critici[zing] the players’ protests” in print and social media, when in fact he was describing “a lack of leadership in failing to resolve the matter to both the players’ and owners’ satisfaction.”

The 2018 media training session was the primary focus of the investigation, the release continued, and Freeh concluded that Schnatter “stress[ed] his disdain for racism” in the meeting and “at no time … express[ed] any beliefs that could be described as bigoted or intolerant.”

Although Schnatter “quoted a third party’s alleged use of the n-word” in order to separate himself from another company founder regarding attitudes on race, he did not “use the word as a racial slur nor was it directed at any person or group,” Freeh continued.

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Florida must stop selling cats, dogs at pet stores | Commentary

No one walks into a retail store motivated by a wish to support cruelty to animals. However, that is the impact of purchasing a puppy mill-bred dog at a pet store. We need legislation to halt such sales in Florida for the good of animals and the protection of consumers.

Imagine being lured into an Orlando pet store by an adorable, tiny, eight-week-old puppy. The sales associate assures you the puppy came from a wonderful breeder and is healthy as can be. If the price tag of several thousand dollars makes you balk, they are quick to sell you on “low interest” financing.

You end up buying the puppy and your whole family instantly falls in love. But this fairy tale quickly turns into a nightmare when you discover the puppy is sick, requires expensive veterinary care and your financing deal carries an extremely high interest rate.

Only then do you realize you have unknowingly bought a puppy from a mill.

Florida State Rep. Sam Killebrew

It should not be that way, and Florida State Rep. Sam Killebrew (R-District 41) wants to put an end to such cruel and demoralizing outcomes. House Bill 45 would prohibit Florida pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Rep. Killebrew’s measure would codify into state law an approach already enacted by nearly 80 cities and counties in Florida.

Anyone who doubts the need for H.B. 45 in our state need only look at the situation in Orange County. Earlier this year, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office filed a lawsuit against a Petland location in Waterford Lakes following 19 complaints from customers. According to complaints, the pet store allegedly led consumers to believe the puppies were healthy, high-quality animals and fit for sale. “In some instances, puppies died soon after being purchased or suffered from congenital or other hereditary disorders,” said Moody in a press release.

Continue reading “Florida must stop selling cats, dogs at pet stores | Commentary”

I’ve been working at home during the pandemic — do I qualify for home office tax deductions?

Say you’ve had to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Join the club. Like many others who are lucky enough to be able to do their jobs from home, you might now be wondering if you can claim a federal income tax deduction for home office expenses. As things currently stand, the answer is no unless you’re self-employed.

But the answer could change if Congress grants additional COVID-19-related tax relief. Here’s what you need to know about home office write-offs as things stand right now.

No home office deductions for employees
Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), an employee could potentially claim itemized deductions for unreimbursed employee business expenses —including home office expenses —if you used a home office for the convenience of your employer. In that case, you could lump the home office expenses together with other miscellaneous expenses — such as fees for investment advice, tax advice, tax preparation, and union dues.

If your total miscellaneous expenses exceeded 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), you could write off the excess — as long as you itemized deductions.

Unfortunately, that was then and this is now.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the enigmatic, longtime Supreme Court justice who attained near cult-like status among progressive circles, died Friday at the age of 87 from complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer.

The late Supreme Court justice, who spent more than two decades on the bench in the highest court of the land, is survived by her two children, Jane Carol and James Steven Ginsburg.

“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. said in a Friday evening statement. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

President Bill Clinton names Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, Washington DC, June 14, 1993.

Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, was known for her soft-spoken demeanor that masked an analytical mind, a deep concern for the rights of every American and a commitment to upholding the Constitution.

Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019

H.R. 3884 – This bill decriminalizes marijuana.

Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.

The bill also makes other changes, including the following:

  • replaces statutory references to marijuana and marijuana with cannabis,
  • requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly publish demographic data on cannabis business owners and employees,
  • establishes a trust fund to support various programs and services for individuals and businesses in communities impacted by the war on drugs,
  • imposes a 5% tax on cannabis products and requires revenues to be deposited into the trust fund,
  • makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to entities that are cannabis-related legitimate businesses or service providers,
  • prohibits the denial of federal public benefits to a person on the basis of certain cannabis-related conduct or convictions,
  • prohibits the denial of benefits and protections under immigration laws on the basis of a cannabis-related event (e.g., conduct or a conviction), and
  • establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings related to federal cannabis offenses.
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John MacArthur wins another round in L.A. Court

Los Angeles County told Court would not find John MacArthur in contempt of court because no court order was in place to prevent indoor worship services at Grace Community Church.

Jenna Ellis of the Thomas More Scoiety
Jenna Ellis

The County of Los Angeles asked a Los Angeles Superior Court to find Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in contempt of court for holding indoor worship services. There was only one problem: there was no court order against indoor services. So, the court rejected this attack on Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s religious liberty.

This is the third time Los Angeles County has hauled John MacArthur and Grace Community Church into court, according to Thomas More Society Special Counsel Jenna Ellis and Charles LiMandri, who are representing the church.

Officials with Los Angeles County wanted MacArthur and the leadership of the Grace Community Church held in contempt of court after holding a regular church service at their Sun Valley, California campus last Sunday. Ellis accused Los Angeles County of continuing a policy of harassment against Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church.

Ellis responded to the judicial finding in a statement: “We are pleased with the outcome today. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff correctly found there is no court order prohibiting Grace Community Church from holding indoor services. LA County continues to harass and target Pastor MacArthur. Having failed to get a court order to shut down the church they have sought three times, they’re going to try again by hauling us back into court. Ironically, LA County said in its application for contempt that, ‘Grace Church cannot thumb its nose at the court when decisions don’t go its way,’ yet that’s precisely what LA County is now doing themselves. We will simply continue to defend our client’s constitutionally protected rights because church is essential.”

John MacArthur sues CA state over worship restrictions

Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church has filed a lawsuit against California over restrictions on indoor worship after the state issued a second lockdown order as part of its response to COVID-19. 

According to the report, the suit was filed Wednesday in Superior Court of the state of California for the County of Los Angeles, North Central District, and names Newsom, Attorney General Xavier Beccera, and other officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as defendants.

“California targeted the wrong groups. California first lifted restrictions on gatherings that occurred outdoors, blessing after-the-fact the illegal conduct of the ‘George Floyd’ protestors.”

Grace Community Church and MacArthur state, the government officials are interfering with their religious freedom and selectively restricting gatherings amid the pandemic.

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MacArthur defies late-night court order against indoor worship

Pastor John MacArthur on Sunday, Aug. 16, defied the mandate of the California Court of Appeal by holding an indoor worship service — further escalating a nationally watched fight over COVID-19 restrictions.

John MacArthur

MacArthur, a prominent Calvinist preacher and author, has led his Southern California megachurch to defy public health orders of the city, county and state intended to curb the spread of coronavirus. He and the church’s elders have claimed the church is being persecuted by the government and will not bow to their illegitimate authority over the church.

On Saturday, Aug. 15, a trial court judge ruled that the church could hold indoor services while litigation against the church played out. Los Angeles County had threatened to enforce $1,000-per-day fines and possible imprisonment against MacArthur and other church leaders. On Aug. 13, the church filed suit against the city, county and state, and the county promptly filed countersuit.

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‘Historic Win’: John MacArthur Claims Victory in Lawsuit Over Church Restrictions

Update: A judge ruled late Friday afternoon that Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, can continue hosting indoor worship services and does not have to adhere to any attendance caps or bans on singing.