WAMU: Maryland Senate Approves $15 Minimum Wage Bill

By Ally Schweitzer
WAMU 88.5, March 14, 2019

Maryland’s Senate passed a bill Thursday that gradually increases the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour ... though it establishes a slower timeline for employers with 14 or fewer workers. Next the bill moves to the House of Delegates, where legislators recently passed a version of the legislation without a different timeline for smaller employers. If delegates concur with the Senate bill, it will head to Gov. Larry Hogan for him to sign, veto or let become law without his signature. ...

Chambers of commerce on the state and county levels have actively lobbied against pay increases ... But labor unions, advocacy groups and some business owners say Maryland’s existing minimum wage — currently $10.10 an hour — is insufficient to meet rising costs of living. ... According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage calculator, single, childless adults in Maryland need to earn at least $15.08 per hour to meet their basic needs. ...

The original minimum-wage proposals in both the Senate and the House proposed more aggressive increases, with pay that reached $15 in 2023 and increased with inflation thereafter. They did not include exceptions for smaller employers ...

“It’s too often forgotten in the minimum-wage debate that workers are also customers,” says Alissa Barron-Menza, vice president of the national coalition Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which supports higher pay in Maryland. “It’s bad for business when working people can’t afford the basics.” ...

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