Legislators, Citizens Debating Bill To Increase Minimum Wage In Maryland

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Annapolis.

 

Frederick, Md (KM). The debate continues in the Maryland General Assembly and among citizens over whether to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. It currently stands at $10.10 per hour.

A public hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon beginning at 12:30 before the House of Delegates  Labor and Employment Committee.

Opponents say it will hurt small businesses by increasing their labor costs, which will be passed on to customers. Supporters say many workers in minimum wage jobs don’t get paid enough to make ends meet.

Frederick County Delegate Karen Lewis Young (D) has signed off as a co-sponsor  of this bill. “My jurisdiction is 85% the city of Frederick. 51% of all households in Frederick are consider ALICE households,” she says. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They are working, but they don’t  make enough money to pay for the basics, such as housing. They also don’t qualify for government assistance programs.

Delegate Young says many of her constituents don’t make enough to pay for the cost of living. “That means that for single adults in my jurisdiction to be able to afford to live and just meet their basic needs,  their hourly wage needs to be $17.66. For a married couple, it’s $23,” she says.

Young also disputes contentions by opponents who say an increase in the minimum wage will hurt their bottom line. She says companies which pay their employees a “living wage” are more successful when it comes to retention. “If you look at the most successful companies, whether they’re small businesses or large businesses, they pay their employees a competitive wage. Their employees are loyal;  their employees are more satisfied. They experience less turnover,” she says.

Young says her insights come from 30-years working in the private sector, including a period of time owning her own business. . She says success in business isn’t based on how little you pay you workers. “If you’re successful or surviving just because you’re paying your employees as little as you possibly can, you’ve got a bigger problem,” she says. “That is only a short term prescription for survival. It is not a long term strategy.”

A similar bill raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour has been filed in the State Senate. A hearing before the Labor and Employment Committee is expected to take place on Thursday,  February 21st at 1:00 PM.

 

By Kevin McManus

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