Eastern Shore Business Owners, Workers, Lawmakers Debate $15 Min - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Eastern Shore Business Owners, Workers, Lawmakers Debate $15 Minimum Wage

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The fight to raise Maryland's minimum wage is on and many Eastern Shore businesses say the results could be catastrophic.

A new bill, called the Fight For Fifteen Bill, will require employers to pay their hourly employees $15. As it currently stands, Maryland's minimum wage sits at $10.10 per hour. That number would increase by a dollar every year until it reaches $15 in 2023. The bill would also eventually phase out tip credit, affecting workers who mainly work for tips.

They're all things lawmakers considered in a committee hearing on Friday. Many people who testified before Friday's committee believe raising the minimum wage could have some costly consequences. Still, some Eastern Shore lawmakers say the issue isn't so simple. 

Business owner, Kathy Lill of Tidewater Cleaning Services, is one of many business owners who traveled from across the state to attend and testify in Friday's meeting. Lill says an increased wage could mean less money to pay for worker benefits, spelling doom for business and her customers.

"It would be catastrophic," Lill said. "With 36 employees, we want to stay in business. But can we stay in business? That's the real question."

Tipped workers, like Sierra Dacre, a server at Harrison's Harbor Watch Restaurant in Ocean City, believe eliminating tip credit could give less qualified workers less incentive to work for a higher wage.

"I just think it's completely unfair," Dacre said. "It's the tip credit for me. I'm not necessarily opposed to the $15 dollar minimum wage because there are people that have children and they need to take care of them."

Some lawmakers, mainly Democrats, agree and say the $15 minimum wage could benefit workers struggling to get by in cities where living costs are higher. But most lawmakers say it's too early to tell who and how exactly the bill will affect the Eastern Shore.

"Each one of these provisions means something to an employer or employee relationship and we need to understand how that's going to play out," Republican Delegate Johnny Mautz of District 37B said.

"I also want us to look at the issue holistically to ensure that we're looking at all sides of the issue," Democratic Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes of District 37A said.

But not all lawmakers are standing neutral.

Republican lawmakers like Delegate Jay Jacobs and Chris Adams from the Eastern Shore say they oppose the bill, but if lawmakers vote based on party, Eastern Shore lawmakers will be outnumbered and the Fight For Fifteen Bill could pass.

 

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