Minimum Wage Increase Enacted

BERLIN — Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley this week signed legislation that will ultimately increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the next four years.

“Working together with members of the General Assembly and Maryland’s congressional delegation, we brought people together and forged consensus to increase the minimum wage to $10.10,” O’Malley said. “This will boost the incomes of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Marylanders and inject millions of dollars into our state’s economy.”

The bill will increase the minimum wage for most state workers from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour in increments phased in over the next four years. The original version called for an expedited increase to $10.10, but amendments attached to the legislation stretched out the incremental increases over four years.

In an issue near and dear to the resort area, with its dearth of restaurants and hospitality-related businesses, the bill freezes the minimum wage for tipped employees at the current $3.63 per hour, or 50 percent of the current minimum wage.

Some legislators wanted the minimum wage for tipped employees increased in kind, but the final version did not include an increase. In addition, the legislation passed on Monday includes a training wage rate at 85 percent of the minimum wage for workers under the age of 20, which should be welcome news in a resort area whose seasonal workforce is made up largely of young workers and college students. Also, the bill allows amusement park workers to be paid at 85 percent of the minimum wage. The bill also exempts restaurants and other hospitality-related businesses that earn less than $400,000 each year.

Maryland Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler praised the bill signing for its potential economic benefit

“As we boost the purchasing power of about 50,000 Marylanders and their families, this gradual minimum wage hike will expand our state’s economy by putting more dollars in the hands of those workers and the businesses where they shop,” said Gansler.

Lt Gov. Anthony Brown, a gubernatorial candidate, also praised the legislation.

“Raising the minimum wage is a critical part of ensuring that no matter where you live in our state, you have the opportunity to earn a family-supporting wage,” said Brown. “With the signing of this legislation today, we’re going to generate nearly half a billion dollars in increased economic activity for Maryland.”