A bill that would more than double the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour in the Commonwealth of Virginia passed the House of Delegates on Tuesday.
The legislation, House Bill 395, would increase the minimum wage over the course of five years: $10 by July 2020, $11.25 by July 2021, $12 by July 2022, $13 by July 2023, $14 by July 2024 and, finally, $15 by July 2025.
The bill, which was sponsored by Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, passed the chamber along party lines, 55-45.
Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, said on the House floor she supports this legislation because low wages have hurt the family unit. She said that this breakdown is inevitable when people are forced to work long hours to make enough money to support their family, rather than spending time with their family.
Republicans criticized the bill, saying it would not have the desired outcome.
Del. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke County, said Republicans and Democrats share the goal of higher wages, but they differ on the right approach. He dubbed the bill the “unemployment expansion act” and said it could lead to less hiring of low-skilled workers in convenience stores, coffee shops and similar jobs.
“[HB 395 is] going to have a very negative impact on the very workers we are trying to protect,” McNamara said.
The Senate is considering similar legislation. That chamber has a slimmer, 21-19 Democratic majority.