A bill that would more than double the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour advanced Monday to its third reading in the Virginia House of Delegates.
House Bill 395, which is sponsored by Del. Jeion Ward, D-Hampton, would implement the raise incrementally over the course of five years. The minimum wage would increase to $10 in July 2020, $11.25 in July 2021, $12 in July 2022, $13 in July 2023, $14 in July 2024 and $15 in July 2025.
Ward said on the House floor that lawmakers worked with all interested parties to “craft legislation that will work for all of us in the commonwealth.” After listening to constituents, the lawmakers provided exemptions for some workers, including tipped workers, summer camp workers and workers under 16 to prevent pricing people out of the market.
A person who earns the minimum wage will still be in poverty, Ward said. The minimum wage hasn’t been raised in more than a decade.
Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, said that a person should not have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.
“One job should be enough,” Carter said.
Republicans objected to increasing the minimum wage out of concern that it could price out low-skilled workers and prevent some people from being hired in entry-level positions.
“You’re making it more expensive to hire entry-level workers,” Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, said.
Freitas said raising the minimum wage hurts employers by making it more difficult to hire workers, and it hurts workers who need lower-level positions to build up work ethic and gain experience. He said this will either cause costs to increase higher than they otherwise would have or make fewer jobs available.
The legislation advanced by a voice vote. The House has a 55-45 Democratic majority; the Senate has a 21-19 Democratic majority.