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Workers rally for minimum wage bill in Annapolis

Annapolis, MD - Today, workers from across Maryland gathered in Annapolis to urge Governor Larry Hogan to consider how his recent proposal to raise the minimum wage to $12.10 an hour by 2022 instead of $15 would impact working families struggling today with low wages.

"As a high cost of living state, there is no place in Maryland where a single full-time working adult can pay for basic needs on less than $15 per hour today," said Ricarra Jones of the Fight for $15 Coalition. "The state's current $10.10 minimum wage isn't working for Maryland households and the Governor's proposal does nothing to change their fate. This feels similar to Trump turning his back on the working class to look out for the interests of the wealthy. The $15 minimum wage is long overdue - fair pay needs to happen by 2023."

The minimum wage bill (HB 166 / SB 280) passed the Maryland House of Delegates last week and now awaits a vote in the Senate. Governor Hogan also recently recommended that any minimum wage increases after 2022 could only take place if surrounding states have a minimum wage that is at least 80 percent of Maryland's minimum wage.

"Governor Hogan's proposal is not enough," said Lisa Williams, a Maryland worker from Baltimore. "Hogan said he wanted to lower the crime rates in Maryland. If the parents don't have enough to provide for their children, their children see their parents struggling and want to help so they go to the streets and get involved in illegal activity. They know it's wrong, but they want to help their family. If Hogan wants to lower crime, he should invest in families and build up our community."

Advocates say the bill will help working families in Maryland, especially those led by women of color, meet their basic needs and their kids' needs and will address historical racial and gender pay gaps.

"As a worker who makes $12.18, I still struggle to pay my bills and can't afford diabetic supplies to help keep my blood levels in the proper range," said Nijah Coopers, a Maryland worker. "The Fight For $15 is bigger than just me. It's about families who are struggling to feed and clothe their children. It's about parents who can barely afford to take the bus to work and can't afford health insurance."

According to the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, 90 percent of affected workers are at least 20 years old, and three out of five work full time. Workers who would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage include one in four Maryland working women, one in four Maryland workers of color and 23,000 veterans.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) and Delegate Diana M. Fennell (D-Prince George's) and has bipartisan support. Raising the minimum wage is a top priority for the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and Maryland's Democratic legislative leaders included it on their legislative agenda for the first time this year.

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