Md. Senate Gives Preliminary Approval to Minimum Wage Bill

- ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The minimum wage bill is making its way through the Maryland General Assembly. The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour Friday, but this didn't come without a lot of controversy.

The debate lasted for hours, with both Democrats and Republicans presenting 17 amendments.

Senator George Edwards' amendment to allow Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties to have their own minimum wage failed.

"How are these small businesses going to improve their income factor when your population isn't growing," said Edwards, (R-Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties).

Senator Chris Shank also spoke on the amendment. Shank said with Western Maryland being in the I-81 corridor, a minimum wage increase could hurt businesses.

"By increasing the minimum wage in this fashion, it just makes us less competitive with those states that already have a lower tax rate and better business climate. It just makes it more and more difficult to compete," said Shank, (R - Washington County). 

Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley believes a minimum wage increase should come on the federal level.

"A minimum wage increase in Maryland only would be very harmful to Western Maryland, to Western Maryland employers, and frankly because it would take some of the jobs in Maryland to perhaps people across borders," said Brinkley, (R - Frederick and Carroll Counties).

Another failed amendment would have included a raise for tipped workers, such as those who work at restaurants.

"They work hard every day, get on that bus, walk to work, put on their aprons, and serve us," said Sen. Victor Ramirez, (D - Prince George's County).

"What we're saying to the working poor who are trying to get out of poverty no thank you. It's one thing to tilt the playing field. It's another to make it a vertical axis," said Sen. Paul Pinsky, (D - Prince George's County), who sponsored the amendment.

Supporters of raising the minimum wage say they want to make sure everyone can succeed.

"We have a declining middle class. There's no question. We know that the middle class is becoming smaller. We also know that we have the biggest gap between the rich and poor that we've ever had in the United States," said Sen. Bill Ferguson, (D - Baltimore City).

A final vote on the minimum wage bill is scheduled on the Maryland Senate floor Saturday. The bill will then head to the Maryland House of Delegates.

The last day of session is Monday, April 7th. That means the house of would have to pass the amended minimum wage bill before the clock strikes midnight.

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