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Renewed Push to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 in the City

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– After failing to pass in the last city council session, there has been a renewed push to raise Baltimore’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Amy Yensi spoke to people on both sides of the heated debate.

The last bill didn’t have enough supporters, but with a new council, a wage-increase could happen.

“Our prominent commitment is to join the national effort for equity in earning power,” said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke.

A bill to raise Baltimore City’s minimum wage to $15 an hour couldn’t get enough votes during the last council session. Sparking protest from some who live paycheck-to-paycheck.

“Basically we’re still struggling to make it,” said protester Carolyn Taylor-Chester.

A new general assembly proposal threatens to strip the power to pass laws on employee wages and benefits from the city council.

“We don’t need folks in Annapolis telling us that we can’t do our jobs,” said 8th district councilman Kristerfer Burnett.

Maryland’s minimum wage is $8.75, a dollar more than the federal minimum wage.

The state rate will increase to $10.10 by 2018.

Opponents say the wage increase puts an unfair burden on local businesses. The owner of a pizza shop says $15 an hour means he’ll have to slice out 20 percent of his staff.

“It would have a major impact and not just because of the salaries but also because of the taxes and everything else that goes along with it,” said business-owner Michael Beckner.

The Baltimore Development Corporation recently surveyed 322 city businesses, and found that
255 of them would either have to lay-off workers, move or close, if $15 becomes reality.

“It’s hard to own a business anywhere, but the City doesn’t make it easy. We do what we can to stay in business,” said Beckner.

Council members are still working to come up with a revised bill they believe could pass.

The $15 an hour bill will go before the city council on February 6. Exactly one day before the hearing for the house bill.

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