Round Two: Council to Reconsider Increasing Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

Increasing the minimum wage is back on the table for the Montgomery County Council to consider.

In January, the council voted 5-4 to increase the minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2020. County Executive Ike Leggett vetoed the measure.

In a memorandum addressed to the council about his decision, Leggett stated that the increase was “too far, too fast,” and the council should consider a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2022. Leggett also stated that small employers should be exempt entirely from the increase since “they would be hit particularly hard.”

The 5-4 vote was insufficient to override Leggett’s veto. At Tuesday’s County Council meeting, Councilmember Marc Elrich introduced new legislation that he said “addresses some of the major concerns,” presented by his colleagues who voted against the previous measure.

Under Elrich’s bill, smaller employers would be subject to a slower phase-in schedule. The bill also requires that the Office of Legislative Oversight to provide the council with an annual analysis of the effect the county minimum wage has on the local economy. It also includes a provision from the earlier measure that allows the county executive to temporarily suspend scheduled increases during the phase-in.

“For our residents, minimum wage jobs do not afford a decent life or dignity to work,” said Elrich. “People work hard, often in the most unpleasant jobs available but they do not get ahead on the minimum wage.”

Councilmembers Craig Rice, Nancy Floreen and Sidney Katz, and Council President Roger Berliner voted against the earlier bill.

Rice thanked Elrich for meeting him in person to discuss ways they could come to an agreement but criticized the new bill because it failed to address the issues he has raised since the beginning: increasing the minimum wage will hurt minorities and youth.

“My concern continues to be our young people who are unemployed, typically ages 16 to 25, who are not represented as a part of this bill,” Rice said.

Councilmembers Nancy Navarro, Hans Riemer, Tom Hucker and George Leventhal are co-sponsors of the new bill.

The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce criticized the bill’s sponsors for introducing the new minimum wage increase legislation.

Ilaya Hopkins, vice president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, urged sponsors to withdraw the bill until the release of a county-commissioned study on the effect of the local minimum wage. It is expected later this week, Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield said.

“We believe it is irresponsible to introduce legislation to further increase the local minimum wage on the eve of a six-week recess without understanding the impact on Montgomery County taxpayers,” Hopkins said in a statement.

County Council Approves Raising Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour by 2020 (VIDEO)

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Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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