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Big Raise, No Raise, Let Counties Decide? Maryland Debates Minimum Wage Bills

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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to raise the minimum wage in the state isn't the proposal lawmakers in Annapolis will take up this week regarding the pay rate.

While the O'Malley's bill would raise the wage to $10.10 per hour, there is another proposal to hike to $12.50. A Republican alternative would leave the decision to county governments on whether to raise the minimum wage locally, as has already been done in Maryland's two largest counties, Montgomery and Prince George's.

Montgomery County Council president Craig Rice is wary of yet another minimum wage bill — one that would take away the authority for counties to set their rates — and just hike the minimum wage a dollar statewide. Rice adds there is also another unwanted possibility.

"There's a lot of talk about not having a bill at all. That's one of the options as well. Which would create a challenge for us," he says.

Such a scenario would leave Montgomery County with a substantially higher minimum wage than neighboring Frederick and Howard counties, as well as the state of Virginia.

But Rice feels they would be able to weather that since neighboring Prince George's County and D.C. have already voted to raise their minimum wages as part of a regional effort with Montgomery County.

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