Legislative Leaders Speak Out on Bill to Raise Maryland’s Minimum Wage
Champions urge committees to pass bills without amendments for consideration of full House and Senate
ANNAPOLIS – More than 20 legislators, including leaders of a House and Senate committee, today called on leaders of the committees considering raising Maryland’s minimum wage to pass the bills out of their bodies without amendments. Lawmakers want the opportunity for the full House of Delegates and Senate to deliberate on the bill. Raising the minimum wage has majority support in the House and is one vote away from similar support in the Senate. Raise Maryland will also be delivering 23,000 petition signatures to members of the House and Senate today.
Sen. Brian Frosh, Chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, Del. Sheila Hixson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and Del. Aisha Braveboy, who serves on the House Economic Matters Committee asked that Sen. Mac Middleton and Del. Dereck Davis of the Senate Finance and House Economic Matters committees favorably report the bills out so that the full General Assembly can consider the proposal.
Del. Maggie McIntosh, Chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee, Del. Anne Healy, Chair of the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee and Del. Sheila Hixson have also sent a letter (attached) to Middleton and Davis, which stated:
“[W]e ask that your respective committees pass this bill with favorable reports and no amendments. With overwhelming support both within the General Assembly and in our communities across the state, this is an issue that should be reviewed by the full bodies of the House of Delegates and the Senate. We want the opportunity to weigh in on this measure and feel a responsibility to our constituents to give it our full consideration.”
Governor Martin O’Malley has introduced legislation in the Maryland General Assembly to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 and index it to the cost of living so it doesn’t lose value over time. The measure also includes a raise for tipped workers, increasing their pay from 50 to 70 percent of the minimum wage.
“The public support for this issue is phenomenal,” said Sen. Brian Frosh. “Since this campaign began last January, more than 23,000 people have signed a petition calling for a higher minimum wage. Lawmakers have received nearly 8,000 personal letters – not form letters – from constituents sharing their stories about the difficulties they face earning the lowest wages.”
The legislative leaders also addressed some of the arguments made by opponents of the measure. “The minimum wage was $4.25 when I was elected so it’s been raised a few times since then,” said Del. McIntosh, “And I don’t recall mass job layoffs or waves of businesses shuttered because the federal government or General Assembly acted to put more money in worker’s pockets so they can take care of themselves and their families.”
“In Montgomery County, we’ve set our minimum wage even higher than this proposal, up to $11.50 by 2017,” said Del. Hixson. “However, just because our county acted to raise the wage doesn’t mean that every county should set their own rate.”
The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute has found that more than 455,000 Marylanders would benefit from the increase, putting $456 million more in their pockets in the next two years. At the same time, businesses would benefit from nearly half a billion dollars in new consumer spending and would create more than 1,600 new full-time jobs as they expand to meet increased demand.
“I came to Annapolis to lead and I challenge my committee, my delegation and the rest of the General Assembly to lead on raising wages for our low-wage workers,” said Del. Braveboy.
Since launching at the beginning of last year’s legislative session, Raise Maryland has educated Marylanders about why a raise in the minimum wage is good for workers, businesses, the state’s economy and businesses. The campaign has knocked on more than 40,000 doors, gathered thousands of petition signatures and letters and engaged Marylanders to join in a wave of support for a higher wage. Raise Maryland has also garnered support from more than 160 businesses across the state as well as from nearly 70 community, political, social action, labor and faith groups.
Raise Maryland is a diverse coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights and faith organizations united to pass a statewide minimum wage increase indexed to inflation.