CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2) says Governor Earl Ray Tomblin made the right decision when he signed the bill raising the state’s minimum wage into law.

Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2)

Kessler said taking the current hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016 will help an estimated more than 100,000 West Virginians.

“They’re getting up and going to work,” he said.  “These aren’t handouts.  These folks deserve an opportunity to earn a decent living wage.”

Tomblin signed HB 4283 into law on Tuesday but, before it takes effect on June 8, he has said he’ll call lawmakers into a Special Session to address “unintended consequences” within the law regarding overtime exemptions.

That Special Session is scheduled for May 19 during interim meetings.

Currently, most of West Virginia’s employers fall under federal overtime exemptions, but critics of the legislation argue the language in the new law would trump those federal exemptions.

Both Kessler and House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison, 48) have pledged to work with Tomblin to fix any “legitimate” issues with the overtime exemptions during the Special Session.

“We’ll take a look at it.  If it needs clarified, not thrown out, but clarified, I’ll be happy to make those minor clarifications,” Kessler said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

With the new law, the first step for the minimum wage increase will come on Jan. 1, 2015 when the rate rises to $8.00.  The final step, taking the hourly minimum wage to $8.75, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

On Wednesday, the “Give America a Raise” Bus Tour, which is traveling through ten states, rolled into Charleston.  Those on the tour are calling on Congress to raise the federal hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.

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  • Anna

    I am glad to see the minimum wage go up although it won't really affect me, but I think it is pathetic that companies don't give annual raises. I have worked at the same company for over 2 years and have had a 50 cent raise. I currently make $9.50 an hour as a Compliance Officer, but with the cost of all utilities, food and gas going up I still just barely exist. A law requiring employers to give an annual raise would be appreciated. All we get are things taken away from us and required to use vacation time for sick time. It would be nice to have both vacation and sick time. I know the State of WV gives their employees both. For example a couple of our girls have had to have surgery and they have had to use all of their vacation time. Vacation time is time you earn. There is no WV law that protects the employee.

  • BIM Job

    I guess evil companies will make less profit since they will be forced to pay their employees more.

    N O T ! ! !

    You will get less hours and the prices of everything will go up and you will be in a worser overall position than you were.

    Will you ever learn?

  • Butch

    This is great for our state. Low income workers, will still be low income but at least they may be able to provide a little bit better for themselves and their families.

    We have to stop the mindset that the working poor will destroy this state and they are hurting this country. They are trying to make a difference for themselves by working. We should be encouraging that by at least letting their income pay for their car insurance, gas and food.

  • Low Rider

    On January 1, 2015 the minimum wage in WV will be higher than 27 other states including our border states of PA, MD, VA and KY. Help me understand how this will create job growth?

    WV ranks nearly dead last in every economic category that is measured. "West Virginia open for business"…I think not. The legislature should be ashamed for passing such a flawed bill.

  • Aaron

    How can the Senate President applaud a flawed bill that he help pass? Does he take no pride in his work?

    • Aaron

      "Both Kessler and House Speaker Tim Miley (D-Harrison, 48) have pledged to work with Tomblin to fix any “legitimate” issues with the overtime exemptions during the Special Session."

      In the words of a being with far more intelligence than our legislatures regarding the word legitimate...

      Ruh Roh

  • john

    The senior centers, due to the cuts made by the Governor, along with the mandatory wage increases, will cause them to cut back on services to the elderly and lay off workers, just to keep the doors open. Its a shame that we cannot take care of our seniors, who for years have worked, paid taxes and many are now at our mercy. I guess dog and horse tracks and the Greenbrier are more important...Sad day!

  • gobran

    Prices for goods and services have been going up exponentially for years now with no increase for workers. This is bad. Corporate profits are at an all time high, why punish the lowest paid workers when ceos are giving themselves million dollar bonuses. Glad to see at least the governor has his head on straight.

  • Ronin

    So what the Governor in fact passed was a bill ensuring that, while our tourist visitors continue to shop at Costco and Sam's Club before leaving for their timeshare in Canaan, West Virginia residents will now pay a little more for everything, and that workers will get fewer hours, and/or do the job with fewer people/fewer needed tools.

    Meanwhile, the bills that could have saved the state money and even created revenue never even got a debate before dying in the bought and paid-for legislation.

  • What happened to WV?

    You are absolutely correct. I owned a business in another state and we went through this and gas, food, rent, etc. the staple products went up over 25% while wages went up 10%. What happens is that it is not an incremental raise for everybody.
    It is a raise for the new hires while the veteran team members don't get raises while prices go up to cover costs. It is a mess!

  • David

    While 100,000 may "benefit", the other 1.7 million West Virginians will lose because of higher prices.