A bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would prohibit counties and cities from increasing the minimum wage in their jurisdictions lacks the votes needed to move forward this session.
“I don’t believe the support is there,” said Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), the bill’s sponsor and chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee.
He said that the bill will die in committee.
Davis said he introduced the measure last month because he thought it would help the state recruit and retain businesses. He said he was influenced by his participation last year on the Augustine Commission, a task force aimed at making Maryland more business-friendly.
“One of the key issues — above taxes — was inconsistency and constantly changing rules,” he said.
Davis faced fierce opposition to his proposal from labor unions, which argued that the measure would suppress wages, and local elected officials, who viewed it as a power grab.
Under the measure — similar to laws in place in Oklahoma, Alabama, South Carolina, Texas and Missouri — local governments could set base pay only for their own employees.
Montgomery and Prince George’s counties require employers to pay minimum wages that are higher than the state requires businesses to pay.
This month, a coalition of Maryland organizations sent a letter to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), urging them to oppose Davis’s measure.
They argued that similar bills have been introduced across the country to “weaken wage workplace standards.” The letter said the proposals in other states were backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that, according to its website, is “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.”
Davis said he thinks the bill is necessary but opted not to push it because the measure became so divisive.
“My thing was there has to be a better way, not pitting one county against the next or a county operating in a vacuum,” he said. “But at this point I realized that it wasn’t going to accomplish what I wanted. It was time to move on.”
On Friday, the Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would require certain restaurants to have an automatic external defibrillator in their facility, as well as a person on staff who is trained to run the device.
The bill would affect restaurants that have seating for more than 50 people and gross more than $400,000 a year.
Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeir (D-Baltimore County) said the measure was a response to the death of a former staffer’s husband. He suffered a heart attack at a restaurant that did not have a defibrillator.
A similar measure passed the Senate last year but stalled in the House.
Del. Erek Barron (D-Prince George’s) said he is fighting to move the measure forward.
Sen. Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) raised concern about the financial burden that the requirement would place on business owners. The devices cost up to $2,000, according to state legislative analysts.
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County), a former emergency medical technician, said he supports the measure because, based on his experience, restaurants have a “high-risk probability of cardiac trauma.”