Minimum wage bill passes House of Delegates

Annapolis, MD - Today, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a version of the Minimum Wage (Fight for Fifteen) bill (HB 166), sponsored by Delegate Diana M. Fennell (D-Prince George's). The House voted 96-44 in favor of gradually raising the state's minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 per hour. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Advocates are pleased the bill passed and would like the Senate to include indexing in their version of the bill which increases the minimum wage to inflation.

"We are excited that the bill passed the House with no additional amendments after Committee," says Ricarra Jones of the Maryland Fight For $15 campaign. "We are asking the Senate not to further weaken the bill with more amendments. And we are making the case to the Senate to index the minimum wage based on inflation - the revised bill means that the minimum wage will max out at $15 in 2025. Repeatedly debating the minimum wage issue is tiring for everyone in Maryland."

The original legislation proposed starting the increase this year and arriving at $15 an hour by 2023. The revised bill requires employers to increase the current $10.10 minimum to $11.00 in January 2020 and then increase the minimum wage by 75 cents each January through 2025.

According to the Maryland Center on Economic Policy, a wage of $15 per hour in 2025 is equivalent to earning $12.97 per hour today. That is 46 cents less per hour than the original phase-in schedule proposed in the bill - $960 over the course of a year for a full-time worker.

Supporters also plan to push the Senate to adopt a sub-minimum wage of at least 50 percent of the minimum wage in their bill to ensure a more stable wage for this workforce, which is estimated to be up to 30,000 people in Maryland.

This workforce, predominately made up of women and people of color, is vulnerable to unpredictable drops in pay as tips fluctuate from shift to shift.*

"Raising wages for tipped workers does not affect their tips," adds Jones. "Tipped workers often must put up with sexual harassment on the job as well as live in poverty and depend on food stamps at rates twice that of the general population. And states that have raised this wage have much lower poverty rates, while restaurant establishment growth is equal or higher."

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

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 Senate version of the bill (SB 280) is sponsored by Senator Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) 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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