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.
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.