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Statewide Increase In Minimum Wage Unlikely To Pass In Maryland

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Gov. Martin O'Malley is pushing for a statewide minimum wage increase to $10.10, a move some Republicans oppose.
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Gov. Martin O'Malley is pushing for a statewide minimum wage increase to $10.10, a move some Republicans oppose.

Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly are rallying around a plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by the year 2016. But with Republicans offering up alternative plans, Maryland Senate president Mike Miller says the plan won't pass his chamber.

Del. Neil Parrott of western Maryland wants counties to have the final say on whether to raise the minimum wage. He notes that Maryland's two largest counties — Montgomery and Prince George's — already raised their minimum wage locally last year. Parrott says the bill Gov. Martin O'Malley and the majority of Democrats are supporting would hurt his district.

"They call it the 'Quad State district.' You've got Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Every single state around has $7.25 per hour. If we increase it in Washington County to some higher amount we're going to see jobs flying out of the state," he warns.

Parrott is introducing a measure of his own includes funding so state authorities can enforce all the potentially different minimum wages. But with Democrats in firm control of both branches of the General Assembly, the bill faces very steep odds in getting passed.

Even so, the plan from O'Malley isn't likely to pass as it stands either. Miller says senators from outside the D.C. suburbs and the city of Baltimore say that wage will hurt the economy in their areas.

"So I'm trying to find a way out of Dodge and that's finding a compromise to get 24 votes to move forward," Miller says.

Miller does expect some sort of minimum wage hike to eventually pass, however, but believes whatever is approved will mean different minimum wage rates in the state of Maryland.

"Personally, I think what Prince George's and Montgomery Counties have done is a tremendous disservice to their citizens and their economy," Miller says.

The wage hikes in those two counties take effect on Oct. 1 of this year, the same time any potential statewide increase would too.

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