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Small business owners fearful over possible minimum wage increase

RICHMOND, Va. -- Small business owners are already making their voices heard on day two of the 2020 session of the General Assembly.

Small business owners and members with the National Federation of Independent Business gathered to discuss how new proposed legislation like HB395, which imposes minimum wage be raised to nine dollars in July, 2020, and over the next three years reaching up to $15.

Small business owners like Brett Thompson fear its the type of bill that will negatively impact his business.

"If they leave businesses alone... believe it or not, we really take care of ourselves," said Thompson.

Thompson is the owner of Blue Ridge Exterior Cleaning and he has six employees.

Brett Thompson

"I really want my employees to make as much money as possible," said Thompson. "If they enact or do something with this minimum wage, even if it's done over a period of time... What's going to happen is, I'm going to go from three trucks to one truck from two office staff to one office staff."

Lawmakers say they will work to make sure HB395 fits the need of all Virginians.

"The question is, can we do it in a way where it's statewide so there is one dollar amount for the entire state or do we want to make it little more of a customized region by region," said Delegate Mark Keam, (D-35th district).

"Most legislatures have never run a business. When you've never run a business it's easy to go up to someone and go you're rich. You run a business, you need to give up more money... You just can't keep milking a cow that's empty," said Thompson.

Many small business owners say they already pay well above minimum wage and would be the ones hit harder than larger corporations.

That's why lawmakers say it's important for business owners to speak up now and to share concerns with the legislature.

"This is just another one of many changes we're having with the minimum wage law, so I don't think anyone should be fearful," said Keam. "What they should be doing is raising their issues and discussions so that we can then address those."

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