Cumberland Times-News

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November 7, 2013

O’Malley joins call for increase to state’s minimum wage

Governor launches petition drive

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday urged supporters of raising the minimum wage in Maryland to sign a petition.

The Democratic governor wrote in an email from his political action committee that he believes the state must make the choice to raise the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour.

“This is going to be a long and difficult effort, and I need to know that you’re with me from the beginning,” O’Malley wrote.

O’Malley does not specify in the email how much he believes the minimum wage should be raised. Nina Smith, O’Malley’s spokeswoman, said details are still being worked out.

O’Malley noted in his email that a priority of his tenure has been to strengthen and grow the middle class. The governor also wrote that the gulf between the middle class and the wealthy continues to grow.

“Moms and dads are working harder, but falling farther behind,” O’Malley wrote. “As we move Maryland forward out of this recession and into better times, we must make the important choices necessary to expand opportunity and strengthen families — choices that grow the ranks of a diverse middle class.”

A measure to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 by 2015 stalled in a Senate committee in the last legislative session, but supporters are preparing to try again in the next session, which begins in January.

Delegate Heather Mizeur, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, proposed this week to gradually raise the minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $16.70 in 2022. The Montgomery County lawmaker also is proposing that tipped workers’ minimum wage be pegged at 70 percent of non-tipped workers instead of the current 50 percent.

In the District of Columbia, an effort to require Wal-Mart and other large retailers to pay their employees a “living wage” of at least $12.50 an hour failed in September when the D.C. Council could not override Mayor Vincent Gray’s veto.

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