Thank you, Sen. Thomas M. Middleton and members of the Senate Finance Committee for the opportunity to submit written testimony on SB 543, “Labor and Employment – Payment of the Minimum Wage Required (Fight for Fifteen),” which would gradually raise Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023. This bill would also gradually eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and eliminate exemptions that subject younger workers to a lower minimum wage, guaranteeing one fair wage for all workers regardless of occupation or age. Moreover, starting in 2024, the bill would establish an indexing mechanism that would allow the state’s minimum wage to keep up with increases in the cost of living.

My name is Laura Huizar, and I am a staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project (NELP). NELP is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy organization specializing in employment policy. We are based in New York with offices in Washington DC, and throughout the country. We partner with federal, state, and local lawmakers on a wide range of workforce issues including unemployment insurance, the on-demand economy, and—as is relevant for today’s hearing—the minimum wage.

NELP testifies in support of SB 543. A $15 minimum wage would raise pay for 573,000 low-wage Maryland workers. The typical worker who would be affected by a minimum wage increase in Maryland is a woman over 20 years old, who works full-time, and is likely to be a worker of color and have at least some college experience. She may also be a mother to dependent children, doing her best to raise her family while living in or near poverty.

The impact of a gradually phased-in $15 minimum wage would not only be positive for low-wage workers, but would also have a negligible impact on jobs and businesses, according to the most recent and sophisticated economic research, which I will review below.

You can read the full testimony below.


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