Legislation to increase the minimum wage in Maryland was approved Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee. The measure phases in the jump in the wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 between January, 2015 and July, 2018.
It would go to $8.00 per hour by January 1st, 2015, and then go up to $8.25 by July, 2015. Then it would increase to $8.75 per hour by July 1st, 2016, and to $9.25 by July 1st, 2017. The $10.10 rate would go into affect by July 1st, 2018.
"We've worked hard to forge consenus and bring people together in order to achieve progress for middle class families by giving Maryland a raise," said Governor Martin O'Malley, in a statement.
"Now I voted against the bill. I do not believe that this is the thing that needs to be passed to get people to work, first of all. And I think it really adversely affects Frederick employers and people throughout the whole state," says Frederick County State Senate David Brinkley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Another amendment added to the bill would increase wages of community-based workers who work with the developmentally disabled so their salaries remain above the minimum wage level. Senator Brinkely says he supports that because money to pay for it comes out of the Governor's budget.
The legislation now goes to the full Senate, whose members could also add amendments. Brinkley says he's working on one. "Tbe planned increases later on will not take place unless the state's unemployment rate is below a certain threshold," he says. "I haven't determined which threshold that would be. Whether it would be a six-percent unemployment rate, or five-and-a-half," he said.
Any legislation passed by the Senate would need to be reconciled with a version approved by the House of Delegates. That will require a conference committee, and the day that General Assembly adjourns for the year is fast approaching. But Brinkley says that a minimum wage increase bill will probably pass for the 2014 session. "The Governor has made this his main initiative for this year. And their some inclination among members of the Democrat party to move forward with this," he says.
The General Assembly will adjourn sine die on Monday, April 7th at midnight.