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Bill that would gradually raise Virginia's minimum wage to $15 hour passes House

Bill dealing with minimum wage, confederate statues advance
Posted at 2:04 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 18:38:26-05

RICHMOND, Va. – A bill that would gradually raise Virginia's minimum hourly wage to $15.00 per hour, is one step closer to becoming state law.

The Virginia House passed HB 395 along a party line vote Tuesday afternoon, 55-45.

The bill, introduced by Del. Jeion Ward, would increase Virginia’s minimum wage to $10.00 per hour, effective July 1, 2020.

The wage would then gradually increase to $11 per hour effective July 1, 2021; to $13 per hour effective July 1, 2022; and to $15 per hour effective July 1, 2023.

Virginia’s minimum wage is currently the same at the federal standard of $7.25 per hour for hourly employees who do not earn tips. The federal minimum wage has not changed in more than a decade (2009) while the cost of living in many areas has increased.

A similar bill is expected to be passed in the House. SB 7, introduced by Del. Richard Saslaw, would increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10 per hour, effective July 1, 2020. It would then be raised $1 per year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2024.

Multiple business advocacy groups said raising the minimum wage would end up harming low wage workers in the long run.

“It kind of has unintended consequences,” Nicole Riley, with the Virginia Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, said last month. “They have to absorb the costs somehow. They are going to do that through eliminating hours for workers, eventually eliminating entry-level jobs. They're going to rely on their more skilled workers and experienced workers to take on more.”

However, other groups like, Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, applauded the House’s passage of the bill.

“Raising the minimum wage will boost the consumer spending that businesses need to survive and thrive,” said Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “In addition, when businesses pay their employees more adequate wages, they benefit from lower turnover, higher productivity and increased customer satisfaction. Today, lawmakers stood up for the economic well-being of every community across Virginia.”

A 2019 study by the Commonwealth Institute for Public Policy found that increasing the minimum wage in Virginia would help more than 1.2 million people.