Virginia’s 2018 General Assembly session began on Jan. 10, and less than a week went by before some good news emerged for the state’s small business owners.
A handful of measures that proposed to raise Virginia’s minimum wage were defeated in committee after employers spoke out against the bills. Nicole Riley, NFIB/VA’s state director, explained small business’ objections to NPR’s Idea Stations: “Many of our members pay more than the minimum wage, however depending on how you were to raise it, it really does put pressure on their other employees’ salaries,” she said. “So it does become a labor cost for them. Labor in and of itself typically is a top three expense for small business owners.”
One bill, introduced by Sen. John Edwards, would have gradually raised the state’s base wage to $10 per hour by 2020. Another would have hiked it to $15 per hour in the same time frame. Virginia’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, the same as the federal level, and it’s one of 14 states that use the federally mandated wage.
Another measure, HB 1259, could impact some employers, however. Under HB 1259, employers could no longer pay subminimum wage rates to employees who earn tips and are currently exempt from earning the federal minimum wage rate, such as restaurant waitstaff. The bill would exclude any tips received by an employee when determining the wage rate they are paid under the Virginia Minimum Wage Act.