RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia Senate committee voted to kill three proposed repeals of a planned minimum wage increase on Monday, thwarting a major Republican legislative priority.
Under current Virginia law, the minimum wage is set to rise each year until it hits $15 an hour in 2026. After that, it will be adjusted annually to compensate for inflation.
HB 1040 would have exempted all businesses with less than 10 employees from the minimum wage, effectively letting them use the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which has not been increased since the administration of George W. Bush.
HB 296 would have allowed employers to count healthcare expenses against the minimum wage requirement, provided that they pay at least $11 an hour.
All three bills passed the House earlier in this year’s General Assembly session, but were defeated before they made it out of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor.
“With inflation at record highs and working families doing more with less, it’s imperative we continue to provide Virginians with the tools they need to lead productive, healthy lives,” said Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw.
Senator Mamie Locke (D – Hampton) said in a statement that preserving the minimum wage was one of her party’s top priorities.
“In the United States, nearly 55% of minimum-wage earners are women and more than half of African Americans make less than $15 an hour,” she said. “The economic stability of every single Virginian requires addressing the minimum wage.”