Legislation that would raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2018 won preliminary approval in the Maryland Senate Friday, but the body is expected to cast a final vote on House Bill 295 on Saturday, reports CapitalGazette.com.
If the bill is approved, the House has to ratify changes made to the bill before it is sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley for his signature.
Senators rejected more than 15 amendments to the bill on Friday, including increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers and reducing the amount the minimum wage would be hiked to $8.25. Lawmakers were hesitant to vote for amendments because they feared that would harm its chances to pass by Monday’s end of the General Assembly.
The O’Malley administration supports a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017.
Before it passed the House, O’Malley’s proposal was stripped of a provision that would have indexed the wage to inflation after it hits $10.10. It was also stripped of a proposed minimum wage hike for tipped workers, the Capital-Gazette says.
The bill includes a provision allowing employers to pay workers younger than 19 a training wage — 85 percent of the minimum wage — during their first six months.
Opponents say a higher minimum wage would burden small businesses and kill jobs. Supporters argue the measure will help Maryland’s low-wage workers better provide for their families and build savings.
“It is the right step to take economically,” O’Malley said last month at a hearing. “If we want a stronger economy, if we want more customers for businesses, if we want economic growth, then we should raise the minimum wage.”
Statements from Attorney General Doug Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown last month said that an increase in the minimum wage would pull many full-time workers who earn the base pay, and their families, above the federal poverty line.
But many other small business owners and representatives from companies like DavCo Restaurants, which operates more than 150 Wendy’s restaurants in the region, said a minimum wage hike would seriously hurt them, forcing them to cut jobs and potentially shut down.
Many called the governor’s bill extreme, arguing that an increase to $10.10 an hour would come as a shock to businesses.
Louis Santoni, president of Santoni's Marketplace & Catering in Baltimore, said that a $10.10 minimum wage would cost his business three times its average net profit.