Advocates want Northam to expand minimum wage bill, others say recession demands delay

By Ned Oliver

April 1, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam is facing dueling pressure campaigns to amend marquee legislation passed by the General Assembly last month raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour over three years.

On one side, farmworkers are pushing for Northam to strike language allowing agricultural operations to continue to pay them $7.25 an hour, an exemption they say is rooted in Jim Crow-era racial animus.

On the other side, business groups, Republican leaders and the Virginia Municipal League, which represents all 38 cities in the state, are asking Northam to delay the legislation altogether, arguing the sudden economic downturn caused by COVID-19 would bust budgets and make it harder for businesses to recover.

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