DC, 2 Md. Counties Working Together to Raise Regional Minimum Wage

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LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — D.C.’s Large Retailer Accountability Act may have gone by the wayside when Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed it in September, but a new proposal could raise minimum wage in the city and surrounding Maryland counties.

A collaborative legislative effort between the District, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County would establish a minimum wage of $11.50 per hour in all three areas over the next three years.

Maryland’s statewide minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour and D.C.’s is $8.25.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Prince George’s County Council Chair Andrea C. Harrison and Montgomery County Councilmember Marc Elrich announced the details of the collaboration Wednesday.

“Maryland’s minimum wage at $7.25 per hour is the equivalent of $15,000 a year for a full-time, year-round employee, and that leaves a wage earner and their family below the federal poverty line,” Elrich said in a statement.

“We are not talking about people who are trying to take advantage of the system—we are talking about people who just want to take care of their families as a result of the hard work they do, and at the current minimum wage, that is not possible.”

Harrison said she’s pursuing the legislation because the county is charged with taking care of residents, and making sure “they have a quality of life.”

“The bottom line is that it’s expensive to live in this region,” she added.

“In two decades, the minimum wage has fallen far below the rate of inflation,” Mendelson said. “Working together, we can restore some measure of equity for the lowest paid workers without fear of losing business across our borders.”

The Prince George’s County proposal will go before a council committee on Oct. 17. A public hearing on Montgomery County’s bill is scheduled for Oct. 24. The D.C. Council has a series of wage bills that are scheduled to be the subject of public hearings on Oct. 28.

The new minimum wage would be phased in over the next few years. The rate in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties would jump to match D.C.’s ($8.25) on July 1, then all areas would increase to $9.75 per hour on July 1, 2015, and to $11.50 per hour on July 1, 2016.

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