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

Cheers from the audience after the Montgomery County Council voted to approve Bill 12-16 that will gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020 for some businesses.

After approving five amendments to the bill, the Council voted 5-4 on the amended bill, making Montgomery County one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to approve a $15 per hour minimum wage, according to a news release.

“Well I think this is a big victory for working people and working families,” said Gabriel Acevero, resident, Montgomery County. “We know that in Montgomery County, it is becoming increasingly expensive to live here.”

“A living wage to be sustainable, a working family needs to make over $30 an hour and $15 is just the beginning, the first step and the right thing to do,” said Justin Vest, lead organizer, Progressive Maryland.

The passing of this bill didn’t come without controversy. Four councilmembers, Nancy Floreen, Craig Rice, Sidney Katz and County Council President Roger Berliner, voted no on the bill. Their reason? Mostly because they agreed a study should be conducted first on the impact raising the minimum wage would have on small businesses.

Before the vote, Katz addressed constituent’s concerns to the Council. Small business owners, according to Katz, are worried employee hours will be cut and some businesses will have to close its doors if they’re unable to fund the wage increase.

“I fear that this measure, without the missing valuable information we don’t have, will harm the very residents we’re trying to help,” said Katz.

But for Councilmember Rice, it was more than that. He’s concerned the bill will have a negative impact on minorities and youth in his district.

“We can’t forget about those young people, those minorities, that continue to struggle to be able to find jobs here in Montgomery County,” said Rice. “We’ve got to do a better job of that before we focus on doing the others things [like] helping people to get a higher salary when I’m focused on getting some people a salary to begin with.”

The proposal to conduct a study was defeated by a 5-4 vote. Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro and Hans Riemer voted against the study.

Bill 12-16 would increase the County law to go up to $15 per hour effective July 1, 2020. The bill would also require an increase to $12.50 in 2018 and $13.75 in 2019 before the increase to $15 by 2020.

The legislation will now go to County Executive Ike Leggett for final approval.

Since the bill only passed 5 to 4, Leggett, who has voiced his concern over the bill, could veto it.

Supporting councilmembers, however, are confident Leggett will pass the bill after making amendments he suggested in a memo sent to the Council late last year.

Amendments approved on Tuesday include a change to the minimum wage schedule for businesses that have 25 employees or less. These businesses will have until July 1, 2022 to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Another amendment approved would allow the County Executive to temporarily suspend scheduled wage increases if certain economic circumstances exist.

One condition outlined in the amended bill that gives the County Executive authority to suspend a wage increase, is if the National Bureau of Economic Research has determined that the United States economy is in recession. Other conditions include: if total private employment for Montgomery County decreased by 1.5 percent over the period from April 1 to June 30 of the previous year; Total private employment for Montgomery County decreased by 2 percent over the period from Jan. 1 to June 30 of the previous year.

Councilmember Riemer proposed an amendment that would require the County’s Office of Legislative Oversight to monitor the impact of increases in the County minimum wage and provide annual reports to the Council on these impacts. This amendment was also approved.

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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 and on Twitter @mittimegan.


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

  1. Avatar
    On January 17, 2017 at 9:21 pm responded with... #

    How is a small business going to survive? As Sidney Katz is concerned because he operated a small family business for many years. Every year, I will need to pass the yearly minimum wage on to my client and hope they renew. Everyone will want to work in Montgomery County but will go to the surrounding counties to spend there money. When 2020 comes around you will be paying at least $5.00 more for a movie, more costly to go out to dinner. Montgomery County will be losing money in the long run when people go to Frederick to spend there Montgomery County earned money.

    Whats Montgomery County Government and schools going to do? There going to have to increase there salaries to compete. In the school systems you have a individuals maybe just making a little more then $15.00 to assist the teachers in classrooms. Why would you want to do this when you could work next to a 18 year old making the same money at CVS.

    New business are going outside the county to open there business . Cant afford to open a sub shop and have to pay counter help $15.00 per hour. The sub would cost you $20.00.

    Bad move for the county. Going to loose millions in revenue!!!

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