Montgomery Co. passes $15 minimum wage

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Montgomery County’s Council voted to pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage that would take effect by 2024. The measure would be enacted in phases depending on the number of workers employed by businesses.

Large employers — those with 51 or more employees — would have to reach the $15-an-hour rate by July 1, 2021. Mid-sized employers — those with between 11 and 50 employees — would have to hit the $15-an-hour mark by July 1, 2023, and small employers would have until July 1, 2024.

County Executive Ike Leggett, who had vetoed an earlier version of the bill said he could sign the version passed by the council on Tuesday.

“The question over the past year has been how much, within what time period, and how we mitigate possible negative impacts on our small businesses and on youth employment. Good intentions are not enough. That is why I vetoed the bill passed 5-4 by the Council last January,” siad Leggett.

“Based on the changes from the original bill, what the County Council approved today is close enough to the conditions I laid down for my support that I will sign the measure into law.”

The bill would not affect businesses who employ teenagers — those under 19 years old and who work part-time. It would also not affect those workers in fields already exempt from federal and state minimum wage laws.

Donald Neba, a 34-year-old landscaper from Langley Park, called the increase “encouraging.” He explained the increased hourly rate will help cover the cost of escalating rents and health care premiums.

Melvin Thompson, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy for the Restaurant Association of Maryland, left the hearing without commenting. He’d testified in earlier hearings on the concerns of the industry; that a higher minimum wage could force restaurants and bars to cut the number of employees to meet the increased cost of wages.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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