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Md. minimum wage increase proposed

Dels. Serafini and Myers say they will opppose measure

January 18, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Some Democratic state senators are pushing for phasing in an increase in Maryland's minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 over the next two years.

Lawmakers and representatives from Progressive Maryland, a nonprofit advocacy group, said during a press conference Tuesday that the boost would help working families and stimulate the economy without hurting businesses.

Rion Dennis, the executive director of Progressive Maryland, said a survey completed last month shows that the public supports the possible increase. Seventy-nine percent of respondents agreed with the raise, Dennis said.

The minimum wage is $7.25 in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the same as the federal minimum wage, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The minimum wage in Washington, D.C., is $8.25.

Sen. Robert J. Garagiola of Montgomery County and Sen. C. Anthony Muse of Prince George's County plan to co-sponsor the bill.

Two Republicans who represent Washington County said later Tuesday that they oppose the minimum-wage proposal.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., who owns Myers Building Systems, called it "a feel-good measure." Raising Maryland's minimum wage could force businesses to move to a neighboring state where the minimum wage is lower, he said.

Del. Andrew A. Serafini, who runs a financial services business in Hagerstown, also is against the proposed bill. He said the state shouldn't take steps that would hurt small businesses.

"I think government needs to get out of the way," Serafini said.

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