MD: Push for minimum wage increase begins, local lawmakers say bill could hurt eastern shore
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The battle is on in Annapolis as lawmakers begin the push to raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. And while some officials say the increase is critical for the state, local legislators say this change could do more harm than good for the eastern shore.
“We’re going to do better, and we’re going to do it right,” said District 47A Delegate Diana Fennell.
On Monday, advocates and lawmakers gathered to introduce a piece of legislation that’s expected to be one of the hottest topics of this year’s legislative session. To raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“It is long overdue and we will get it done,” Fennell said.
Currently the state’s minimum wage is $10.10 but some officials say, that’s just not enough for people to make a decent living.
“Maryland is in expensive state to live in and in no county in Maryland can you make minimum-wage and be working 40 hours a week and achieve a middle-class lifestyle,” said District 46 Delegate, Brooke Lierman.
But local legislators say this bill, if passed, would hurt business’s on the eastern shore and the employment opportunities they provide.
“The concern is that though the proposal sounds good in theory, when you apply it to our small business operators, our job creators it’s going to have the effect of actually pulling back on those jobs,” said District 38 Senator Mary Beth Carozza.
They add that businesses on the shore are barely getting by after they were required to provide paid sick leave to their employees last year. And adding the new pay increase would be detrimental.
“We have all these burdens coming on and here on top of that the legislature looks to be moving a $15 hour minimum wage I think the times wrong for this,” said District 37B Delegate Chris Adams.
And although still in it’s early stages, supporters say their focus is primarily on the people and giving them a chance to live comfortably.
“That’s what’s going to make Maryland a truly great state is when every single Marylander has enough to live on and not just to survive but to thrive,” said Lierman.
Officials add that the bill hasn’t officially been introduced quite yet but once it is, it will go to the house and then the senate for approval. And if it is passed by both parties, it will go to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk who will ultimately have the final say on if the bill will become law.