General Assembly raises the minimum wage

ANNAPOLIS — Last week, the Maryland legislature took a major step to help working families across Maryland by voting to raise the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 by Jan. 1, 2025. Small businesses with 14 or fewer employees will be permitted to wait until July 1, 2026 to establish the full $15 wage.

“The Maryland legislature recognized that we need to do better by working families in Maryland and raise the wage floor,” said Ricarra Jones of the Fight for $15 Coalition. “We are thrilled Maryland is joining other states that are fighting for fair pay so that hard-working residents don’t have to continue to struggle to support their children while working several jobs. We hope Governor Hogan does not turn his back on the working class and signs this bill.”

Sponsored by Delegate Diana M. Fennell (D-Prince George’s), the bill passed the Maryland House of Delegates with a 93-41 vote. The Maryland Senate voted 32-13 to pass the final version of the bill (SB 280), which was sponsored by Senator Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City).

The legislation now goes to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk. Recently, Governor Hogan has criticized the bill, but has not said he will veto it. Since the legislation will reach him at least six days before Sine Die, he is required to act on it in time for the General Assembly to override a potential veto this session. The House and Senate passed their versions of the legislation by veto-proof majorities.

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

“This bill will invest in families and help lower crime rates and build up our communities,” said Lisa Williams, a Maryland worker from Baltimore.

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.

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