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Maryland gubernatorial candidates call for wage increases

Three of the individuals hoping to replace Martin O'Malley as Maryland's governor have publicly lobbied for a substantial increase to the state's minimum wage. At least one of the candidates supported raising minimum wage in the state to $10 per hour, which would prompt a dramatic uptick in expenses for businesses across Maryland. Federal minimum wage currently requires such employers to pay workers $7.24 an hour.

Recent attempts to raise Maryland's minimum wage have largely been met with failure. Lawmakers introduced a number of bills aimed at boosting wages during the state assembly's most recent session, but resistance from prominent state employers and other critics effectively curtailed any legislation. However, increased support from labor unions, the governor and the attorney general has many legislators hopeful that a higher minimum wage in Maryland will soon be a reality.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have laws requiring employers to pay workers more than the federal minimum wage, some of which have prompted employers to threaten relocation. While lawmakers in Maryland claim an increased minimum wage would support hundreds of families by raising average household incomes, opponents claim it could negatively affect Maryland's valuable businesses, potentially resulting in fewer jobs and a destabilized state economy.

The chairman of the Maryland Economic Matters Committee noted that such a measure could indeed help some citizens, but only "at the expense of others." One official with the University of Maryland Baltimore County's Department of Public Policy said that raising minimum wage could contribute to a growing perception that the state is unfriendly to businesses.

Such legislation would make wage and hour claims increasingly dangerous for employers operating in Maryland, but those who consult with experienced legal representatives will always stand the best chance at emerging from such disputes financially unscathed.

Washington Post, "Md. Democrats' movement to raise minimum wage gains speed as election year looms" John Wagner, Sep. 03, 2013

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