The Maryland Green Party stands in opposition to HB 317, "Labor and Employment - Wages and Benefits - Preemption of Local Authority." The stated purpose of this bill is to prevent counties and municipalities from setting a minimum wage independent of the state minimum wage. It also prohibits local authorities from implementing paid sick leave and other benefits that would help working people and their families.
This Bill is sponsored by three Democrats (Dereck Davis, District 25, C.T. Wilson, District 28, Sally Jameson, District 28) and is similar to ultra-conservative legislation advanced in Ohio, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. It is part of a strategy utilized by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to prevent localities from advancing progressive legislation. The fact that Maryland Democrats are advancing ALEC legislation is especially troubling.
We oppose this bill for three reasons:
The statewide minimum wage of $8.75/hr is not enough for working people across the state to live on. Scheduled increases to $9.25/hr (July 2017) and $10.10/hr (July 2018) do not solve this problem for most Marylanders, but are especially burdensome on working people and families in Maryland counties and cities with some of the highest costs of living in the country. The Montgomery County Council recognized this when they passed a $15/hr minimum wage bill, which was shortly thereafter vetoed by County Executive, and Democrat, Ike Leggett. Similar initiatives in Baltimore City and Baltimore County are underway.
Decentralization is one of the 10 Key Values of the Green Party. We believe that local government knows what is best for its residents and that local government should always have the ability to offer more benefits or raise wages for its workers. We also believe that the Maryland Constitution supports this local autonomy and that this is a power currently reserved to counties and municipalities. Local Green Party chapters have been heavily involved in the Fight for $15 on a county level because we know that workers and residents of our communities want progressive and worker-friendly laws passed.
This bill puts politics over principle. It is designed to give Democratic county executives and mayors political cover from having to weigh in on this crucial issue. After the backlash faced by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, it is clear these elected executives would rather ignore the interests of their workers than take an official stance that would conflict with the interests of their corporate donors. Hiding behind far-right ALEC legislation should give pause to anyone who thinks that being a Democrat is synonymous with being a progressive.
We ask all Maryland Greens to take the following steps to oppose this anti-worker, anti-family, anti-democracy bill.
Contact your State Representative and let them know that you oppose HB 317
Contact your Mayor or County Executive and ask them to publicly oppose HB 317, or any legislation that includes this local preemption language.
Come to Annapolis on Tuesday, February 7th at 1:00 PM and make your voice heard when the Economic Matters Committee of the House of Delegates hears testimony on this bill.
- Follow the Maryland Green Party on social media for updates and to get the word out!