Senate Finance Committee Approves Move to $10.10 Minimum Wage

The Senate Finance Committee approved HB 295 – Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 with amendments to move the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2018. As written in the Maryland Reporter,

The Senate Finance Committee approved a $10.10 minimum wage for most Maryland workers, but extended the increases over the next four years, rather than three as the House of Delegates had done. The bill also ties the minimum wage to increased state reimbursement for disability support workers, who currently average $9.82 per hour.

The Committee’s amendments will delay the first wage increase by six months, and slow down the annual increases, changes intended to ease the transition for some businesses. The current wage is $7.25, and Senate Finance increases are as follows:

  • $8.00 January 1, 2015
  • $8.25 July 1, 2015
  • $8.75 July 1, 2016
  • $9.25 July 1, 2017
  • $10.10 July 1, 2018

The Senate Committee also added an amendment providing that minimum wages for direct service workers in the state increase by a percentage aimed at keeping their pay 30% above the state’s minimum wage as it increases. Senator Brinkley warned that the actual increase might not be as large. As recorded by the Maryland Reporter,

“While this is laudable and makes us feel good, let’s look at how the budget works,” Sen. David Brinkley said. “If you’re voting for this presuming there’s going to be a 3.5% increase, no. There’s a 3.5% increase the governor proposes, the legislature can lower that amount. What the governor giveth, the BRFA taketh away,” referring to the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, which changes funding formulas and mandates in order to balance the budget.

The Committee also approved an exemption to the minimum wage for workers at cafes, drive–ins, drugstores, restaurants, and taverns that sell food and drink for consumption on the premises and gross $400,000 or less. The current law provides an exemption for employees of those businesses that gross $250,000 or less. Senator Middleton noted that the $250,000 threshold had been in place since 1991.

Like the House version of the bill, the bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee does not link the minimum wage to a consumer price index or other gauge and maintains a minimum wage for tipped workers of $3.63 with tip credit allowances.

For more information, see the full story from the Maryland Reporter.

Update: The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee also approved the amended bill on April 3.