PNS Daily Newscast - February 26, 2020 

Seven Democrats debate in South Carolina. And helping kelp forests off the West coast.

2020Talks - February 25, 2020 

Tonight's the last debate before the South Carolina primaries, but it's also the last before Super Tuesday, which includes California and its 494 delegates.

Virginia Workers to Try Again for Higher Minimum Wage

Groups that support raising Virginia's minimum wage say the state's economic boom has not trickled down to workers. (Adobe stock)
Groups that support raising Virginia's minimum wage say the state's economic boom has not trickled down to workers. (Adobe stock)
January 6, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. -- On Jan. 1, more than 20 states raised their minimum wage amounts, and a coalition of Virginia groups supports a new bill for the Commonwealth to join the trend.

On Tuesday, the group Raise the Wage Virginia will announce it is backing House Bill 395, which proposes to raise Virginia's minimum wage from a little over $7 an hour to $15 by 2023, according to Lenace Edwards, deputy political director for Unite Here Local 25.

Edwards says the bill is stronger than past proposals, because it has a fast time frame and avoids regionalism, to help all low-wage workers in the state at the same time.

"Folks have talked about bringing certain districts or areas, phasing them in at a different time, right?" she points out. "That's unacceptable and would set a dangerous precedent."

Last year, a bill to raise Virginia's minimum wage to a little over $10 an hour, didn't make it through the General Assembly.

Edwards thinks this year's majority Democratic Party body bodes better for a win.

Members of Raise the Wage Virginia say the state ranks highly for business but near the bottom for workers, who haven't shared the benefits of its economic boom.

Lauralyn Clark is a Richmond resident with the Service Employees International Union in Virginia, a coalition partner. She's a home health-care worker who makes a little over $9 an hour.

Clark backs the proposed minimum wage hike because, even at her slightly higher-than-minimum wage, Clark says she can't make ends meet.

"It's kind of hard to have extras, you know," she states. "There's no wiggle room for savings, you know. There's no such thing as a retirement for a home care worker at $9.40. You're going to work until you die."

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would lift earnings for more than 33 million workers across the country by almost $3,000 a year.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - VA