Montgomery Co. lawmaker pushes again for $15 minimum wage

WASHINGTON — A Montgomery County Council member is moving ahead with a revised proposal to boost hourly wages after a push for a $15 minimum wage failed earlier this year.

Councilmember Marc Elrich plans to introduce the new legislation on Tuesday.

“It’s not the same bill,” Elrich said. “We’ve listened to major concerns that people have.”

The Council passed Elrich’s first minimum wage bill in January, but it did not garner enough votes to override a subsequent veto from County Executive Ike Leggett.

Leggett said the bill transitioned to $15 per hour too quickly, among other concerns. The bill had called for businesses to pay the higher minimum wage by 2020.

In a memo sent to Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, Leggett said he would “reluctantly veto” the earlier bill because he supports the effort in general, but wanted it to be done “over an appropriate time frame.”

The council’s president echoed those thoughts.

“It isn’t about saying no,” said Berliner said in January. “It is about finding a better balance that minimizes the damages that can and will be felt by our small business community.”

Under Elrich’s new plan, many businesses would still need to pay the $15 wage by 2020. However, the bill offers exceptions for some employers.

Providers of adult day care services, nonprofit organizations and businesses with 25 or fewer employees would have an extra two years.

“We are one of the most expensive places in the country to live,” Elrich said. “We have some of the highest rents, and it doesn’t make sense to have wages that come nowhere close to people being able to pay their rent.”

The county’s minimum wage is currently at $11.50 an hour.

“What I ask people to think about when they hear this discussion is, imagine trying to live on $11.50 in Montgomery County.”

Businesses owners and others in the community will be able to offer their thoughts and concerns during a public hearing on Elrich’s plan that will likely be held in late September.


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