Maryland lawmakers OK’d a bill on Wednesday that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The state’s Senate and House of Delegates, both controlled by Democrats, approved the Fight for 15 bill with enough votes to override a potential veto from Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who opposes the proposed increase.
The legislation going to Hogan’s desk would raise the minimum wage from the current $10.10 per hour to $15 by 2025 for companies with 15 or more workers. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
“People who are making at, or just around, the minimum wage don’t tend to put their earnings into long-term investments,” Sen. Delores Kelley (D) told The Baltimore Sun. “They spend that money on a daily basis. They spend it as quickly as they get it.”
The chambers’ respective bills could not initially agree on whether to give smaller businesses more time to implement the new wage. The Senate version gave companies with fewer than 15 employees until January 2028 to increase pay to $15. The House version called for companies of all sizes to increase the wage by January 2025. The chambers came to a compromise Tuesday, giving companies with fewer than 15 employees until July 2026 to increase the wage.
The state constitution says a bill submitted to the governor at least six days before the end of a legislative session will become law after six days unless the governor rejects the bill. In that scenario, the General Assembly can then vote whether to override the veto before adjourning.
The House of Delegates voted 93-41 in favor of the bill’s final version, and the Senate approved it 32-13, giving the General Assembly a margin that would allow members to override a potential Hogan veto, according to the Sun.
The governor has not publicly said whether he will veto the legislation, but he has spoken against the increase and called it unsustainable. He proposed a smaller wage increase this month, to $12.10 per hour over two years. He said Monday the increase to $15 would “harm our state’s economy.”
The bill approved Wednesday also requires companies with tipped workers to provide those employees with an explanation of their wages. Workers like servers and bartenders can be paid far less than the hourly minimum as long as their tips bring total pay to at least minimum wage.
A recent poll found that about two-thirds of Maryland voters said they support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Fight for 15 Maryland said 90 percent of affected workers in Maryland are at least 20 years old and 60 percent work full time.
Several other states — such as California, New York and Massachusetts — have enacted $15 hourly minimums, and Connecticut, Illinois and New Mexico are reviewing bills to raise their wages. The majority of candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have endorsed the idea.