Virginia House of Delegates Passes Bills to Freeze Minimum Wage at $11 an Hour and Include Health Benefits in Legal Definition of Wage

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Republican-controlled House of Delegates passed two bills addressing the minimum wage, including a repeal of increases passed by Democrats in previous sessions. Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) and Delegate Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) debated about the need for minimum wage increases on the House floor Monday.

“I have it on good theological guidance that nothing in this bill is going to cause you to be cast into eternal darkness and gnashing of teeth,” Freitas said, defending his HB 320 against a claim that eliminating minimum wage increases harms “the least among us,” a reference to Jesus’ teaching in the Bible.

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Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Ends State Sen. Obenshain’s Efforts to Reverse Collective Bargaining Law in Virginia

The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee killed two bills from Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) aiming rollbacks at Virginia’s collective bargaining laws. SB 374 would have removed locality authority to enter into collective bargaining agreements with public employees, and would have removed locality authority to require contracts to be performed at prevailing wage.

“The effect of these legislative changes that I’m seeking to undo is that, really, we’ve thrown open the doors for large out-of-state union contractors to come in and take jobs and opportunities away from Virginia contractors, Virginia employees. It deprives us of the benefit of our right to work status,” Obenshain said to the committee chaired by Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax). “This is a pro-jobs, pro-Virginia, pro-individual liberty, pro-Virginian piece of legislation.”

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Federal Government Approves Tennessee’s Medicaid Proposal, Swapping a Block Grant for an Aggregate Cap

The federal government approved Tennessee’s proposed Medicaid aggregate cap, granting a lump sum for a self-imposed, fixed budget. The ten-year agreement, referred to as “TennCare III,” is the first of its kind nationwide. It also allows for the state to reserve any unused funds and apply them to other government programs, with up to 55 percent of those savings potentially matched by additional federal funds for state health programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) described the measure as an “innovative financing approach.” Unlike what various reports claimed, federal officials explicitly stated that this agreement wasn’t a block grant. This agreement allows the state government to be flexible with its spending cap under certain circumstances – like last year’s pandemic and related unemployment crisis. 

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