Senator Rich Madaleno recently proposed a $15 minimum wage bill for Maryland, SB543. A companion bill was proposed by Delegate Shelly Hettleman, HB664. These bills propose a gradual increase in the state minimum wage from its current level of $9.25 to $15 in 2023. After that, the minimum wage will be increased annually based on the consumer price index. My daughter and step-son are both struggling to survive in Columbia on part-time minimum wage jobs. For them, even $0.50 more an hour makes a noticeable difference.
As of this writing, the House bill has 73 cosponsors for a total of 74 votes, ensuring passage of the bill by majority vote. On the other hand, the Senate bill has 20 cosponsors for a total of 21 votes. Since there are 47 Senators, 24 votes are needed for passage by majority vote. So we need at least three more Senators to sign on as cosponsors to ensure passage in the Senate. If Gov. Hogan vetoes the bill, we would need 85 votes in the House and 29 in the Senate to override the veto.
To get contact information for your state Senator, go to <http://www.progressivehoco.org/hoco_sb0543>. While there please sign the petition in support of the $15 minimum wage bill.
We have three state Senators who serve Howard County, Gail Bates (Rep-District 9), Ed Kasemeyer (Dem-District 12) and Guy Guzzone (Dem-District 13.) None of our Senators has signed on as a cosponsor of the bill. I corresponded with Sen. Kasemeyer's office and he expressed some reservations about supporting the bill because of a slow economic recovery of the Lower Shore region. He also expressed concern that raising the minimum wage would encourage automation to replace low paying jobs, eliminating those jobs and ultimately hurting the workers. Both of these are spurious arguments. A study of minimum wage hikes in 137 localities around the country showed no adverse affect on the minimum wage workers. An article referencing the work can be found at:
Similarly the worry about automation in unfounded. Automation is part of our future and will certainly be replacing jobs whether we have a minimum wage hike or not. Some minimum wage jobs are vulnerable to automation, but many are not because they involve human interaction. These include jobs in daycare and elder care where the point is to have people take care of people. And these are some of the lowest paying jobs in the country.
When I called Senator Guzzone's office I asked what his stand was on the bill. They were not very familiar with the issue (there are a lot of bills, they said) and asked what my opinion was. I told them I was strongly in favor of it and that I encouraged Sen. Guzzone to sign on as a cosponsor.
I have not contacted Gail Bates office.
From my interactions with Howard County's Senators, I feel that they can be persuaded to support the Senate bill and to sign on as cosponsors. But they need to hear from you, their constituents. I am sharing the petition and contact information (<http://www.progressivehoco.org/hoco_sb0543>) in the hope that you, the residents of Maryland, will engage your Senators and tell them that you want them to cosponsor this bill. I only takes a call or an email to let them know what you think about the Fight for $15!