City Council sends $15 minimum wage bill back to committee
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- The Baltimore City Council on Monday approved a motion to send a bill back to committee that would have raised the minimum hourly wage in Baltimore City to $15 within six years.
City Council President Jack Young approved the motion after the council voted to redirect the bill back to the same committee that moved it forward nearly three weeks ago.
The move came as a surprise for many who expected the bill to become law on Monday. One week earlier, the council gave it preliminary approval in a 7-4 vote in which three members abstained and one was not present.
Young said the decision to send the bill back was a positive development because more study of the measure was needed. Speaking after the vote on Monday, he also said he would want Baltimore to have a $15 minimum wage only if surrounding counties had the same pay requirement.
Outside City Hall on Monday, advocates for raising the city's minimum wage expressed disappointment, but remained confident knowing the bill was still alive in committee.
The labor committee can now amend the bill as it reconsiders the proposal.
In its current form, the bill would raise the minimum hourly wage from $8.75 to $15 by 2022. Maryland's minimum wage is currently $8.75 an hour and is being phased up to $10.10 an hour by July 2018.
Councilmember Carl Stokes, who represents District 12 and is chair of the council's Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, had voiced support for a lower hourly wage target before the hearing. "Rather than the arbitrary $15.00 an hour wage by 2022, let's get workers to $11.50 an hour by the year 2018, a number that most closely approximates our current living wage," he said in a release.
Stokes called the current target "misleading" for city residents and criticized the bill for its exemptions, including one that gave immunity from the law to businesses with less than 25 workers.
At the previous preliminary approval vote on Aug. 8, Stokes abstained, along with Councilwoman Helen Holton of District 8 and Councilman William "Pete" Welch of District 9.
This story will be updated with more information.