Virginia Lawmakers Send Youngkin Bills To Increase The Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour

FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, bottom center, arrives in the House chambers to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address at the Capitol, Jan. 10, 2024, in Richmond, Va. The Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on Thursday, Feb. 22, each passed their own proposed version of the next two-year state budget, documents lawmakers will start to work from to fashion a compromise spending plan to send to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, file)
FILE - Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, bottom center, arrives in the House chambers to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address at the Capitol, Jan. 10, 2024, in Richmond, Va. The Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate and House of Delegates on Thursday, Feb. 22, each passed their own proposed version of the next two-year state budget, documents lawmakers will start to work from to fashion a compromise spending plan to send to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, file)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrats who control the Virginia General Assembly sent Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin legislation on Friday that would increase the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2026.

Identical bills that would bump the current $12-per-hour minimum wage to $13.50 on Jan. 1, 2025, and then to $15 on Jan. 1, 2026, cleared the Senate and House of Delegates on party-line floor votes, TV station WRIC reported.

The legislation is a top priority for Democrats and progressive advocacy groups and builds on a push the party started several years ago, when the minimum wage stood at $7.25 per hour. Advocates say the measure will help working families afford basic necessities and keep up with inflation, while opponents have argued it will harm small businesses.

The bills face an uncertain future — Youngkin has indicated his opposition, though he has not explicitly said he will veto them. Youngkin told reporters earlier this year he didn't think the legislation was necessary “because the market is handling it.”

Virginia Democrats began an effort to increase the minimum wage in 2020, when they were in full control of state government. They passed legislation that year — which took effect with a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic — establishing incremental increases up to $12, with further bumps requiring another Assembly vote.