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Hearing on Raising the Minimum Wage to $15/Hour

Yesterday’s eight hour hearing on raising the minimum wage brought up some challenging issues. Some organizations that care for vulnerable people and depend on Medicaid reimbursement ( which would be lower than the proposed wage) are concerned they will not have workers because they would leave for another job which pays the new minimum wage. This includes behavioral health, in home care, and medical day care - including care of vulnerable older adults. The bill remedies part of this vast community by providing a state subsidy, but not the other parts. I believe we need to make sure we are not creating a disincentive for people to work in these critical, high need, areas. Another area of dispute was for tipped employees. Currently, a tipped employee makes $3.63 an hour plus tips. If they don’t end up with the minimum wage for each hour, the employer will pay the difference so they are guaranteed the minimum wage. We heard testimony from servers and bartenders that they average a lot more than $15 an hour now and oppose changing the tipped model as it exists now. We also heard from business owners, most of whom explained that this was too steep, too fast, on top of other recent mandates such as paid sick leave, for their businesses to remain viable. On the other hand, we heard from minimum wage workers, the majority of whom are women and people of color, that they need help making ends meet. Montgomery County has implemented a $15 minimum wage already. State representatives from the eastern shore and western Maryland are lobbying for lower wages there (a wage by region). What are your thoughts? #Working4MD

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