Last week, the Democrat controlled House in West Virginia passed legislation raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.75 an hour, $1.50 higher than the federal minimum wage. The action is part of a nation-wide effort by Democrats to make a minimum wage increase central to their platform for the midterm elections. The increase didn’t effect all workers, though. Democrats exempted many of their own staff from the wage hike. Businesses may have to pay the higher wages, but the legislature will avoid many of the consequences.
From the legislative text, the wage hike doesn’t apply to:
(18) any person employed on a per diem basis by the Senate, the House of Delegates, or the Joint Committee on Government and Finance of the Legislature of West Virginia, other employees of the Senate or House of Delegates designated by the presiding officer thereof, and additional employees of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance designated by such joint committee;
In other words, the legislative leadership can designate employees whom won’t qualify for the minimum wage increase. If only small businesses had such an option.
In fact, the Democrat’s minimum wage hike carves out exemptions for 19 different classes of employees. The wage hike doesn’t apply to handicapped workers, seniors, state fire fighters, movie ushers, newspaper deliverymen, summer camp workers, college students, etc.
There are economic reasons for exempting these workers from a wage hike. That the Democrats would push these exemptions, though, is at least tacit acknowledgement that minimum wage increases have negative economic consequences. The Democrat legislators themselves recognize that they would have to reduce employment if they had to comply with the wage hike.
These 19 exemptions betray the political aspect of the Democrat’s push for a wage hike. Businesses should do what they say, not what they do.