Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III Dec. 17 signed a bill to raise the minimum wage in the county to $11.50 an hour by 2017.
The bill cleared the council Nov. 27 without opposition.
“Enacting a minimum wage here in Prince George’s County and throughout the region, really is just our responsibility as elected officials to do the best that we can to take care of the people who we represent,” former County Council chair Andrea Harrison said during the signing of the bill.
With Baker’s signature on CB-94-2013, Prince George’s County joined its counterparts in neighboring Montgomery County in approving a measure to increase the minimum wage for the first time since 2009 to $11.50 an hour by 2017 from the current $7.25 an hour.
The action is part of a drive by local lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the closest Maryland suburban jurisdictions, to coordinate the establishment of what the elected officials refer to as a “regional minimum wage.” The Montgomery County Council cleared a similar bill Nov. 26.
At the state and federal minimum wage rate, a worker who earns $7.25 an hour has an income--$ 15,000 annually-- putting them below the $22,500 annual income level that federal officials have set as the poverty level for a family of four.
Under the newly signed law, the wage will gradually increase the county’s minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by Oct. 1, 2017, for a $23,000 a year pays level.
“I think that this bill is going to have a great effect,” Baker told the AFRO. “This is going to be the motivating factor to have the state pass a statewide minimum wage, so I think that’s going to be great.
“The thing about doing this as a region is sending the signal to the federal government, and to states everywhere, that we really need the federal government to raise the minimum wage. I think that this is unusual and it’s going to be a catalyst to see things happen, not only statewide, but nationwide,” he said.
“I think it creates some serious momentum,” Prince George’s County Council Chair Mel Franklin told the AFRO. “President Obama is for it and much of the Congress is for it. We just need to get the Republican members of the House to do what’s right for the working families of this country and raise the minimum wage. I do think today is going to add momentum on a state and federal level.”