Democrats pass bills to raise Virginia’s minimum wage to $15 per hour

Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), who introduced Senate Bill 1, is seen here in 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Isabel Soisson

February 14, 2024

An effort to raise Virginia’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 is one step closer to becoming law after the Virginia Senate passed its version of the bill on Tuesday. 

Both Senate Bill (SB) 1 and House Bill (HB) 1 were introduced by Democrats and passed on party-line votes in the House of Delegates (51-49) and Virginia Senate (21-19) respectively, without any Republican support. The House version of the bill passed earlier this month

The legislation would raise Virginia’s minimum wage from the current rate of $12 per hour to $13.50 in 2025 and to $15 in 2026. This continues the efforts Democrats began after they won full majority control of the legislature in 2019, when they began gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to the current $12 rate.

At least one of the bills must pass out of the other chamber before going to Gov. Glenn Youngkin for consideration. Although he hasn’t definitively said he’d veto the legislation, Youngkin has signaled that he’s opposed to increases in the minimum wage generally, telling the Virginia Mercury that “the market is working” in January.

State Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), who introduced SB 1, has warned Youngkin that he’d see a change in the Democrats’ “cooperative tone” if he vetoes the minimum wage bill. 

A poll released last month by the Wason Center based out of Christopher Newport University found that 68% of Virginians support increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. 2023 polls from Virginia Commonwealth University also found that Virginians rank the rising cost of living as the most important issue facing state residents—something higher wages could help address.

According to a study conducted last year by the Virginia Department of Housing and Economic Development, about half a million Virginians made $12 or less per hour as of 2021, with one million workers earning $15 or less.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.


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