Opinion

Dem-controlled legislature increases minimum wage, exempts own staff

WV-senate
Photo credit: www.legis.state.wv.us

West Virginia’s Democratic-controlled legislature approved legislation last week to bump their state’s minimum wage from the federally-mandated $7.25 per hour standard to $8.75, a 20 percent hike — and then exempted themselves from paying it to their own staff.

The minimum wage hike exempts 19 classes of employees, most making sense. They include “handicapped workers, seniors, state fire fighters, movie ushers, newspaper deliverymen, summer camp workers, college students” and others, according to Breitbart News.

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In general, it exempts those worker classes that are hurt the most each time the minimum wage is increased. The eighteenth exemption, however, is problematic. it exempts:

(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;

Simply stated, West Virginia lawmakers has the discretion to decide who among their employees would be subject to the new minimum wage standards, and who would be exempt.

Earlier this month, President Obama led the charge to increase the federal minimum wage when he signed an executive order bumping it up for federal contractors. His Democratic Party members have since taken up the mantle, including, it would seem, Democrats in West Virginia — but then carve exemptions out for themselves.

There may, in fact, be a legitimate reason for the exemption. But it’s hypocritical not to offer the same to the private sector.

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