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Later this week Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett will sign into law a bill raising the minimum wage.
The speed with which the wage increase was passed in Montgomery County has come under some criticism, chiefly from The Washington Post, whose editorial board said the action overlooked many issues and was caused by upcoming election year pressures from Democratic advocacy groups.
But Leggett thinks the quick work was necessary to get the Maryland General Assembly to act on a statewide minimum wage hike when it convenes in January. He says there is precedent for state lawmakers following Montgomery County's lead — banning smoking in bars and restaurants for example. That first act cleared the Council in 1999, when Leggett was still a member of the body.
"Many people told me at the time do not do this, to wait for the state to act. Well, they acted. But they acted on the reaction [to it] in Montgomery County. And the fact that we led the effort in this entire region," he says.
A bill to raise the state minimum wage to $10 per hour failed to get a floor vote during this year's session. But a long list of Democrats, the party that controls both chambers of the General Assembly, have announced their support of passing a hike next year.