Gray Vetoes Controversial ‘Living Wage’ Bill

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D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. (Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. (Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced Thursday morning that he has vetoed the controversial Large Retailer Accountability Act.

The bill would have required non-union District retailers with a parent company making more than $1 billion per year and occupying at least 75,000 square feet to pay its employees a minimum of $12.50 per hour.

“I am vetoing this legislation precisely because I believe in providing a living wage to as many District residents as possible – and this bill is not a true living-wage measure,” Gray wrote in a statement. “While the intentions of its supporters were good, this bill is simply a woefully inadequate and flawed vehicle for achieving the goal we all share.”

Gray says the legislation would raise the minimum wage for only a small fraction of the District’s workforce, and called the measure “a job-killer.”

GRAY’S LETTER TO COUNCIL CHAIRMAN PHIL MENDELSON EXPLAINING HIS DECISION

Wal-Mart, an outspoken opponent of the bill, said in July that it would scrap plans for some of the stores planned for D.C. if the bill became a law.

Three Wal-Mart stores are already being built, but Wal-Mart spokesman Steve Restivo said in a statement that the company would “review the financial and legal implications on the three stores already under construction,” as well.

Following Wal-Mart’s announcement in July, Gray told the council that he had deep reservations about the act. Two of the stores that would be imperiled by the passage of the measure are located in majority-black communities east of the Anacostia River, where Gray lives and where unemployment is much higher than in the rest of the city.

Representatives from six other retailers — AutoZone, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Macy’s, Target and Walgreens — undersigned a letter in July asking Gray for a veto, as well.

In Thursday’s statement, Gray asserted that parts of the city with limited retail options would have no chance of gaining them if the law was passed.

“The bill will not modestly delay economic development in underserved District neighborhoods long deprived of jobs and retail amenities; it will kill economic development in these communities for a generation,” he wrote.

In July, the bill passed 8 to 5 — one vote short of what’s needed to override a veto. At least one member of the city council will have to change his or her vote for an override. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson tells WNEW’s Matt DelSignore that he will attempt an override on Tuesday.

Wal-Mart and the city’s Chamber of Commerce commended Gray’s decision after it was announced.

“Mayor Gray has chosen jobs, economic development and common sense over special interests – and that’s good news for D.C. residents,” Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo said in a statement. Now that this discriminatory legislation is behind us, we will move forward on our first stores in our nation’s capital.”

Barbara B. Lang, president of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, wrote that Gray “should be commended for vetoing this irresponsible bill that undermines the work we’re doing to increase employment opportunities for District residents.”

Read what Twitter users had to say about Gray’s decision Thursday:

WNEW’s Matt DelSignore contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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