Labor groups fight for minimum wage indexing to be added back to house bill, as Moore Admin. says they want to pass the measure as is
MARYLAND – The Maryland Fair Wage Act of 2023 is progressing through the legislature, with the Senate version of the bill having its first house hearing Thursday in the House Economic Matters Committee.
However, the measure has seen major changes since being introduced.
The 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage hike is now slated for January 2024, compared to the October 2023 date in the original Senate version. Also absent; is a measure tying the minimum wage to inflation.
Labor leaders and Fight For 15 Organizers are pushing to re-add that measure during the hearing Thursday.
“We want to see an amendment that would put indexing back in the bill as it was originally introduced,” said Fight For 15 Campaign Manager Trap Jervey.
Those behind the fight for 15 say the bill as it stands would benefit over 160,000 Marylanders, but with a flat cap in the minimum wage, in a few years’ time, they’ll be back asking to raise it again.
“It is better for workers so we don’t have to continually pass minimum wage laws it will be tied to inflation it will go up they don’t lose out and businesses it’s more predictable they know what’s coming they don’t have to worry about a sudden jump,” Jervey said.
But members of the Governor’s office indicate they’re okay with those measures being removed if it means getting the bill passed.
“Right now we find a lot of people in our state are struggling to get diapers or babies clothes, this helps that, we still support this bill we believe a lot of Marylanders will be impacted, our administration still continues to support indexing, but this is a bill we can support,” said Deputy Legislative Director for Governor Moore Miles Hicks.
Hicks also testified the measure would bring thousands of children and their families in the state above the poverty line.
However, critics of the measure say it would stifle small businesses, with amendments introduced to include carveouts for businesses below a certain size being vetoed in the Senate.
The bill now moves to the committee in the Maryland House.