The Washington Post

O’Malley says he’ll seek to restore inflation provision to his minimum-wage legislation

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, speaks during a roundtable discussion with business owners who support raising the state’s minimum wage on Thursday, March 6, 2017, in Upper Marlboro. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said Thursday that he is disappointed that the House of Delegates dropped a provision from his minimum-wage bill that called for automatic increases based on inflation and said he will lobby the Senate to restore it.

O’Malley’s bill, which faces a final vote in the House on Friday, would gradually raise Maryland’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2017. The provision struck by the House would have made additional increases automatic after that.

“I was disappointed,” O’Malley said. “We’ll keep pushing. They at least left $10.10 in. They didn’t split the loaf that way.”

His comments came during a broader roundtable discussion with business leaders who support increasing the state’s minimum wage. O’Malley convened the group at a printing company in Upper Marlboro as a means to promote his plan, on which the Senate will weigh in the remaining month of the 90-day legislative session.

O’Malley also told reporters that he would welcome a Senate bill with a minimum wage higher than $10.10 an hour — the amount O’Malley proposed at the start of the session. The prospect of that and the restoration of the inflation provision appear unlikely, however.

In an interview on Thursday, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said many in his chamber have qualms about imposing a $10.10 wage on rural areas in particular, and said there is little interest in allowing automatic increases indefinitely.

“There’ll be an opportunity for another legislature to deal with this at some point in the future,” Miller said.

“We are going to adopt the spirit of his bill,” Miller said. “But at the same time, we’re going to make sure it’s a job creator and truly benefits working men and women and does not cause the termination of people at the lower end.”

Under the bill poised for approval in the House, Maryland counties would still be allowed to adopt higher minimum wages than the state. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties passed local legislation late last year requiring workers there to be paid $11.50 an hour by 2017.

Twenty-one states and the District have minimum wages higher than Maryland, which has been using the federal standard.

During Thursday’s event, O’Malley argued that raising Maryland’s minimum wage would not only help low-wage workers, but also provide a boost for the economy by giving working families more money to spend.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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