The $15 minimum wage movement received a boost Thursday when a member of City Council introduced a bill to put the issue before Philadelphia voters in November.
The measure, if approved by Council and Mayor Nutter and passed by voters, is nonbinding: It only calls on city and state officials to pass a $15 minimum wage. But advocates say it would gauge support, place pressure on Harrisburg, and lay groundwork for a court battle should the city challenge the presumption that only the state can set a minimum wage.
"We are also hoping it will drive turnout to the November election," said Kate Goodman, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia chapter of $15 Now.
In that election, three seats will be up for grabs on the state's Supreme Court, the group likely to settle the dispute if Philadelphia were to challenge state's minimum wage preemption. Goodman said the ballot question could increase turnout among voters who would support Supreme Court candidates more likely to strike down the state's preemption.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement that raising the minimum wage will improve the economy and "help lift communities."
"Families shouldn't have to fight to survive, living on low-wages, working two and three jobs and having to raise families," he said.
Opponents of raising the city's minimum wage have said it will cause business to move across the county line and criticized Council's recent focus on wage issues as an election-year ploy.
The legislation - which was referred to committee - was introduced by Councilman Wilson Goode on behalf of Johnson, who was not at Thursday's meeting due to the death of a family member.
On Thursday. Council also approved another ballot questions that will go before voters Nov. 3. The question, if approved, would make permanent the Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs.