The move would follow in the footsteps of the D.C. Council, which earlier this summer passed legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour for workers at large national companies.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) is contemplating a veto of the bill as big box retailer WalMart has threatened to pull out of plans for stores in the District. Elrich’s bill would raise the minimum wage in Montgomery County from the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That minimum has been in effect since 2009.
Elrich’s bill as proposed would apply to all businesses in the county, though the Takoma Park lawmaker said he is open to tweaking.
“To be blunt, the low wages paid by some employers have created a class of citizens who are dependent on government services to make ends meet and those same employers have effectively shifted a portion of what should be their labor costs onto taxpayers — both individual taxpayers as well as the majority of private sector companies who pay a living wage or higher,” Elrich said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
He will introduce the bill in the Council session set for Sept. 10.
Elrich, known for his support of progressive causes, said raising the minimum wage is of particular importance to Montgomery County because of its high cost of living.
He cited numbers from the nonprofit Maryland Community Action Partnership that found a single adult in Montgomery County would need a wage of $17.07 per hour to be self-sufficient. A family of four with two adults would require each adult make $19.62 per hour and a single adult with one child would need to make $30.59 per hour.
“Not only were these numbers the highest in the state, but they are higher than what is needed in San Francisco and New York City,” Elrich said.
Elrich in the past has advocated for a form of rent control in the county. He said he got no support from fellow councilmembers, recalling how he was told the bill was “dead on arrival.”
“I hope that my colleagues on the Montgomery County Council, as well as those in Prince George’s County and in the District, will join in raising wages for these most vulnerable groups to this level,” Elrich said.