Montgomery County Councilman Marc Elrich will alter his bill to increase the county’s minimum wage in an effort to coordinate with similar proposals in Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C.
Elrich’s bill originally sought to increase Montgomery’s minimum wage over a three-year period, from the current state minimum of $7.25 an hour to $12.
He announced on Friday that the bill would instead require an increase to $11.50.
The move “levels the playing field” between each of the two counties and the District, Elrich (D- At Large) of Takoma Park, said Monday.
While each jurisdiction must pass its own bill, all three must deal with issues caused by large populations, low wages and the high cost of social programs, he said.
Prince George’s County Council Chairwoman Andrea Harrison (D-Dist. 5) of Springdale and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) have proposed similar bills.
Harrison could not be reached for comment Monday, but told The Washington Post last week that while she expected some opposition from the business community, she believes many businesses will be concerned with making sure their employees’ needs are met.
Elrich said $11.50 an hour still wouldn’t equal a wage that it takes to actually live in the county, estimated at more than $13 an hour.
“It would be nice, but we’re not there yet,” Elrich said of reaching the living wage amount.
Under Elrich’s plan, Montgomery’s minimum wage would increase gradually — to $8.25 an hour on July 1, 2014, $9.75 an hour on July 1, 2015 and to the full $11.50 an hour on July 1, 2016.
After 2016, the minimum wage would be tied to increases in the Consumer Price Index, which tracks changes in the price of various items for different regions of the country.
Elrich said he’s had many conversations with business owners and others in the county about the bill, and tried to add in measures to address some of their concerns.
The bill contains exemptions for workers who are not covered by the state minimum wage law, workers who receive tips or young workers who receive an opportunity wage under state or federal laws.
The bill also allows for a 90-day introductory period during which an employee can be paid at the previous year’s wage level, something Elrich said he added after hearing from some employers concerned about paying higher wages to employees who may not stay.
The bill would also allow employers who offer their workers health care to pay lower wages.
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24.