Senate Democrats Kill Bill Designed to Prevent Payment of a Living Wage

HB 422 fails 9-6 in Commerce & Labor Committee

RICHMOND, VA – This afternoon, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor voted to kill a bill that would have prohibited local governments from requiring contractors to pay a living wage or provide benefits above a certain level. The bill failed along party lines in a 9-6 vote, with one member abstaining.

HB 422, patroned by Del. Glenn Davis (R – Virginia Beach), would have deprived localities of their ability to provide in certain contracts — specifically, those pertaining to the construction or maintenance of city buildings and infrastructure, or the procurement of tangible products — that the contractor must pay its employees a wage or benefit above the minimums set by state and federal law. Current law gives localities the flexibility they need to consider other factors in addition to cost, enabling them to seek the highest-quality work.

The bill would exempt contracts for landscaping and janitorial work.

Speaking on the vote, committee member Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) said, “Too many hardworking Virginians are already struggling to get by, and this bill would have made that struggle even harder. Senate Republicans opposed raising the minimum wage; today, we saw that they oppose paying a living wage, too.”

Sen. Phil Puckett (D – Russell) said, “Localities know their own needs better than anyone, and when they have the freedom to make contracting decisions locally, citizens benefit. If a locality and a contractor can come to an agreement, politicians in Richmond shouldn’t be tying officials’ hands.”

Sen. George Barker (D – Fairfax) said, “Alexandria has had a living wage for 14 years and they have found significant benefits, with much lower employee turnover and higher quality work."

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