For immediate release: April 7, 2014
$10.10 Minimum Wage Bill Passes in the Maryland General Assembly
Increased wages will benefit hundreds of thousands of workers, bolster businesses statewide
Raise Maryland successfully moved lawmakers, grassroots in two-year campaign for higher wages
ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland General Assembly today passed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by 2018. The bill was passed by the House of Delegates in March 89 to 46 and cleared the Senate on April 5 by a vote of 34 to 13. Today’s final concurrence vote in the House of Delegates was 87 to 47. A top priority of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, he is expected to sign the bill quickly after session ends. This is the first time that a minimum wage bill has been passed by the Maryland General Assembly since 2006.
“Raising Maryland’s minimum wage is a huge win for the hundreds of thousands of workers across the state who will get a raise, as well as the businesses and communities that will experience increased economic activity because of higher wages,” said Ricarra Jones, chair of Raise Maryland. “Over the last 16 months, Raise Maryland’s campaign and strategy has successfully moved lawmakers and votes to achieve this progressive and meaningful raise for workers.”
A diverse coalition of community, labor, immigrant, civil rights and faith organizations, Raise Maryland is a Maryland Working Families campaign, founded in January 2013 by bringing together organizations and individuals united to pass a statewide minimum wage increase.
“My central focus as Governor of Maryland has been to strengthen and grow the ranks of our ever more diverse and upwardly mobile middle class,” said Governor O’Malley. “This year, we are building on this record of strengthening the middle class by raising Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10. We worked hard to bring people together and forge the consensus necessary to make this important progress possible. I commend the General Assembly for giving so many Maryland families the raise they deserve.”
The bill that will be signed by Gov. O’Malley will raise the wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $8.00 in January 1, 2015, and rise again to $8.25 on July 1, 2015. Workers will get subsequent raises to $8.75 on July 1, 2016 and $9.25 on July 1, 2017. The full-phase in to $10.10 will take place on July 1, 2018.
In previous efforts to raise the wage in 2011 and 2013, the measure failed in the House Economic Matters Committee and Senate Finance Committee, respectively. In 2011, the Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis chose to put the bill in his drawer to die, and in 2013 the measure failed in the Senate Finance Committee by a 3 to 8 vote. By contrast, this year the bill passed the House Economic Matters Committee by 13 to 8 and the Senate Finance Committee by 7 to 4.
Research from the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute found that hundreds of thousands of Marylanders will benefit from the increase, putting hundreds of millions more in their pockets in the next two years. At the same time, businesses would benefit from up to half a billion dollars in new consumer spending and would create more than 1,000 new full-time jobs as they expand to meet increased demand.
A wage of $10.10 puts Maryland among the highest minimum wage rates in the country and mirrors the current federal proposal proposed by President Barack Obama. Delaware’s minimum wage will rise to $8.25 by June 2015, the governor of West Virginia signed a bill to raise the state’s wage from $7.25 to $8.75 by 2016, Connecticut’s legislature recently enacted a $10.10 minimum wage by 2017, and two key House committee in the Vermont legislature voted to increase the state’s lowest wage to $10.10 as early as 2015.
Maryland Working Families built the massive Raise Maryland campaign that included more than 60 organizations united to raise the wage. The coalition included 1199SEIU, 32BJ, BRIDGE Maryland, CASA de Maryland, Communities United, Jews United for Justice, NAACP, UFCW 400, Unite HERE Local 7, Moving Maryland Forward Network and many others, along with grassroots support from national groups including Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Moms Rising, Organizing for America and Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The coalition also benefited from the generous financial support from Rep. John Delaney to bolster the campaign’s social media work.
“This win demonstrates Maryland Working Families’ ability to form effective coalitions to move elected officials and grassroots to make progressive change,” said Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families. “We see passage of a $10.10 minimum wage as an important first win but we’re not stopping here. We need to raise wages for tipped workers, win paid sick days, fight for retirement security for all and work to get big money out of politics so ordinary working people can have an equal voice in the decisions that affect us all.”
Raise Maryland has been tightly focused on legislative targets since January 2013. By the time the 2014 Maryland General Assembly session began, Raise Maryland had secured commitments from the majority of House members and nearly a majority of the Senate to support our bill. Gov. O’Malley adopted the Raise Maryland bill language and included it in his legislative package.
A full-time canvass knocked on more than 40,000 doors, gathered 8,000 personal letters from voters and generated more than 25,000 petition signatures, not to mention countless phone calls and emails to legislators. Grassroots activity was complemented by a vigorous social media presence, overwhelmingly positive polling, support from more than 180 businesses statewide, several high profile events with state and federal elected officials that generated positive media coverage, radio ads and a steady drumbeat of support in the media for a higher wage.
Key provisions of the Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 were stripped out or changed during consideration of the bill. The phase-in date was moved from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2018. A proposal to index the minimum wage so that it would rise during to keep pace with the cost of living was amended out of the bill. Wages for tipped workers were frozen by the House at $3.63 per hour, a measure sought by the restaurant industry. Advocates beat back a broad training wage proposal but a narrower measure has been established, allowing employers to pay workers 19 and under a subminimum wage of 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first six months of employment. Restaurants with a gross income of $400,000 are exempted from the higher rate, up from the previous amount of $250,000. Finally, an exemption for amusement parks like Six Flags that adjoins Del. Dereck Davis’ district will permit employers to pay workers 85 percent of the state minimum wage.
Other weakening proposals were beat back either in committee or on the floor of the chambers by minimum wage champions, backed by lobbying and grassroots support from the Raise Maryland coalition. A proposed two-tier system to create different minimum wage rates for different parts of the state failed to get support. An effort to move the phase-in date out to 2019 also failed.
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.