There's Bipartisan Support to Remove Jim Crow Language from Virginia's Code, With a Catch

Jan 23, 2019

Del. Rob Bell, R-Albermarle, left, talks with Del. David Toscano, D-Albermarle, during the House session at the Capitol in Richmond Wednesday.
Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are in agreement about getting rid of old Jim Crow language in the code. But Republicans have conditions.

Lawmakers here in Richmond are totally fine with getting rid of exemptions to the minimum wage for shoe shine boys and theater cashiers — low-wage jobs that were commonly held by African-Americans in the Jim Crow era. But Republicans have conditions.

They want assurances from Governor Ralph Northam that he won’t amend Delegate Cia Price’s bill to raise the minimum wage for everybody else.

Republican Delegate Rob Bell.

“In Washington, we wouldn’t even be talking about it. It would be a bill from another party and nobody would be making all this effort. We’re making all this back-bending effort to try to pass a Democrat’s bill for something she thinks is important, which is fine. We just don’t want it to become something else.”

Kim Bobo at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy says she would like to see the minimum wage increased. But she says she’s fine with Republicans seeking assurances from the governor before they move forward.

“I think it’s fair to have a stand-alone bill, and we’re optimistic that something will get worked out in the next few days and we can get a bill passed, which would be terrific.”

The governor’s office says Northam reserves the right to review every piece of legislation passed by the General Assembly, adding that it’s his constitutional role in the process.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.