CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the minimum wage increase into law Tuesday night while also asking state lawmakers to change the bill before it takes effect June 8.
Tomblin said HB 4283 makes the right move by increasing the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016, but he contends it includes “unintended consequences” regarding overtime exemptions.
“What we’ve always operated under are the federal exemptions for seasonal employees, for hospitals, for nursing homes and there’s a problem there,” Tomblin told reporters at the state capitol earlier Tuesday. “There’s a lot of problems with our (municipal) fire departments and police departments. It’s going to cost the cities hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
The overtime language in the new law trumps the federal exemptions, though the governor doesn’t expect those to last long. In a statement released Tuesday night, Tomblin pledged:
“I will call the Legislature into extraordinary session during the May interims, beginning May 19, 2014, to address the issues of great concern to businesses large and small—including the fiscal challenges expected to affect our local governments. President Kessler and Speaker Miley have both committed to working with me to achieve this ultimate goal.”
Sen. President Jeff Kessler, who praised the governor for signing the bill, said changes can be made by lawmakers before the June 8 effective date.
“Signing this piece of legislation is not only the right thing to do for the state’s workers; it will also help the state’s economy. This bill puts more money in the pockets of hard working West Virginians, who in turn spend their money locally. This is a very positive measure for our state,” Kessler said.
House of Delegates Speaker Tim Miley said the House would work with the governor on his concerns.
“The House of Delegates stands willing to continue working with Governor Tomblin and the Senate to ensure that the increased minimum wage has no adverse impact on the overtime laws that employers in the state are accustomed to following.”
The House and Senate originally did not agree on the legislation. The Senate wanted the $1.50 increase spread over three years instead of two, but the House got its way on the last night on the regular session. Tomblin also said he preferred the three-year plan.
The minimum wage increase is expected to impact more than 100,000 state residents.