Baltimore City council again takes up $15 minimum wage bill

BALTIMORE -
It's a new year and a new city council, but the same fight continues as a push for a $15 minimum wage continues in Baltimore City.
 
The bill's sponsor has high hopes for its passage.
 
Last year's Baltimore City Council session led to the solid defeat of a version of the bill sponsored by councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke. This session, however, all but guarantees a different outcome, partly because of an almost entirely new city council body.
 
After falling just one vote short of passing in August, eight of 15 council members elected in Nov. help tip the scales in favor of passage. In staunch opposition to the bill last year, City Council president Jack Young now supports it.
 
"The last session I opposed it because of the amendments I was able to get into this new bill," Young said. 
 
The bill would increase the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, while allowing businesses with fewer than 50 employees to do so by 2026. The bill would also allow employers to pay those younger than 21 and working entry level jobs at the state's minimum wage amount, and allow some businesses more time to comply.
 
"If you work hard all your days ... you deserve to be able to support your family," said Clarke, the bill's primary sponsor.
 
However, a separate fight brews in Annapolis where a bill blocking localities from raising minimum wages past the state's level gets its first hearing tomorrow afternoon.
 
A spokesperson for Mayor Catherine Pugh said she is waiting to see the legislation after it passes before taking a position.
 
The bill will be taken up by the council's labor committee in March.
 
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