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Virginia $15 minimum wage bill passes House, heads to Senate

(Image: Alexey Rotanov via Shutterstock)
(Image: Alexey Rotanov via Shutterstock)

An effort to increase Virginia’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 is on its way out of the Virginia House. Advocates and Democrats say it’s needed to support low-income workers, but Republicans are pushing back.

Hampton-area Delegate Jeion Ward is celebrating her 20th year at the Virginia legislature, and while she’s not retiring, she’s still thinking about her legacy. And among the issues she wants to be remembered for is increasing the Commonwealth’s minimum wage.

This story was reported and written by Radio IQ

“It’s like a slap in the face, to expect someone to work, do your dirty work for hours on end, often in jobs that are less than desirable, and still not be able to make ends meet for their families,” Ward said.

Her current  bill continues an effort started in 2020. Back then the state, under a Democratic legislature and governor, started the process of increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But that bill required second passage, known as a reenactment clause, to continue its incremental increase.

So far, the effort has failed to get any support from Republicans. Here’s Former Republican majority leader Delegate Terry Killgore who said he spoke with grocery store owners in his Southwest Virginia district, and they were worried about what a minimum wage increase will mean.

“They employ a lot of school kids at 11, 12 an hour, if it goes to 15 it’s going to hurt opportunities there,” Kilgore told Radio IQ.

But Ward said wage increases can actually benefit economically depressed regions and the lower income folks who work there.

“As soon as they get the money they put it right back into the community,” she said.

A matching  effort is currently working its way through the Virginia Senate. A final version is likely to land on Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk, but he’s signaled he has no interest in signing such a bill. If that’s the case, Virginia’s minimum wage would stay at $12 until further action was taken.