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D.C. Council will hear minimum wage testimony as regional effort emerges

Vincent Orange (D-At Large) will lead the hearing on various minimum wage proposals. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Updated 10:15 p.m. to correct the date of the hearing

A potential minimum-wage hike has moved closer to the top of the D.C. Council’s fall agenda as a regional effort to increase those wages has emerged.

Council member Vincent B. Orange announced Thursday that he will hold a hearing later this month on five bills introduced by various members attempting to increase the District’s current minimum wage rate of $8.25 an hour.

The bills take a variety of approaches to hiking the wage, from commissioning a study panel to phasing in hikes as high as $12.50 an hour to instituting a yearly index tied to the cost of living in the city.

Orange, as chair of the Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs committee, will have great sway in determining what sort of proposal ends up before the full council — sway he did not have last week, before a rearrangement of council duties prompted by the recent censure of Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) gave him oversight of employment matters.

The announcement comes two days after members of the Montgomery and Prince George’s county councils introduced their own minimum wage bills, eyeing a rate of $11.50 an hour.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said Tuesday he has had discussions with members of those councils about a “coordinated effort to get an increase in the minimum wage in the metropolitan area.”

Orange acknowledged the regional efforts in his hearing announcement: “Both Montgomery County and Prince George’s County are now addressing legislation that will increase the minimum wage for its residents. It appears the region is ready for an increase in the minimum wage.”

Both Orange and Mendelson were strong backers of the Large Retailer Accountability Act, a narrowly targeted wage bill that was defeated last month after the council failed to overturn Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s veto. Gray has now expressed support for an unspecified across-the-board minimum wage increase.

The hearing is set for Oct. 23 Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. at the John A. Wilson Building.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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