Maryland House passes minimum wage increase

The entrance to the Maryland State House in Annapolis is seen in this Jan. 11, 2016 file photo. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A measure to raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 in 2025 has been approved by the House of Delegates.

The House voted 96-44 Friday for the bill. It now goes to the Senate.

The measure raises the minimum wage from $10.10 to $15 over several years. It would rise to $11 next year. It would go up 75 cents each year to $14 in 2024 and reach $15 in 2025.

Supporters say it’s needed for people who make minimum wage to cover basic necessities, while opponents said it would kill jobs.

Mike O’Halloran, the Maryland state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said the very employees the bill hopes to help are sometimes hurt by a rise in the minimum wage. “We’re seeing employers unfortunately having to lay off workers or move full-time employees to part-time because there’s only so much money to go around in a business — particularly small employers.”

Republican Del. Nicholaus Kipke, the House minority leader, said, “One of the largest employers in a town in Maine closed its doors because of a minimum wage increase. It displaced 22 residents and 53 employees. The owner stated that it was directly related to the high minimum wage in their state.”

Del. Luke Clippinger, a Democrat, said he doesn’t buy the argument that a boost to the minimum wage will result in the loss of jobs in the state. “After the last increase in the minimum wage, unemployment’s actually gone down in Maryland; it hasn’t gone up.”

Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, a Democrat, said Marylanders need the increase in the state’s hourly wage so that they can get ahead. “Everyone has their own issues, and I really support single moms raising kids, and low-income families.”

She said, “I want people to be able to be productive members of society, to be able to afford to live where they want to live,” and added the $15 minimum wage would help do that.

The House scaled back the initial proposal. A provision that would have automatically increased the minimum wage to keep up with inflation was cut out. Democrats who control the General Assembly have made the measure a priority this year.

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