The state’s House of Delegates on Friday approved a measure to gradually raise hourly pay from the current $10.10 to $15 by 2025, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The 96-44 vote in the Democrat-controlled House fell largely along party lines, with Democrats in favor of the bill and most Republicans voting against it.
Delaware is scheduled to increase its minimum wage to $9.25 in the fall, and the minimum wage in the District of Columbia will rise from $13.25 to $14 this summer, the Sun reports.
Democratic lawmakers said the move would help the state’s poorest residents rise out of poverty, while one Republican lawmaker said he feared the rise will do just the opposite.
Maryland Del. Dave McKay, a Republican from the western part of the state, told the Sun that he feared that a higher income would move people out of the income brackets for public assistance.
“This bill is not ready for prime time unless we address these issues,” McKay said.
But Del. Dereck Davis, a Democrat from Prince George’s County, Md., told the Sun that the state’s last increase in the minimum wage seemed to prompt a rise in the number of businesses.
“You’re hurting your own cause … when it starts to appear you’re crying wolf,” Davis told the Sun.
Businesses have said the bill would drive up their own costs.
The legislation now moves over to the Maryland Senate.
A worker advocate says her organization is pushing the Senate not to weaken the measure that the House passed.
“We are asking the Senate not to further weaken the bill with more amendments,” Ricarra Jones of the Service Employees International Union and the “Fight for $15” coalition told the Sun.
A business representative told the Sun that small enterprises might not be able to afford the increase.
“Not only will many small businesses be affected, but many employees will also be hurt as hours are cut and jobs are eliminated,” Mike O’Halloran of the National Federation for Indepedent Business told the Sun.
Democrats are in control of the Maryland Senate.