(ANNAPOLIS) Yesterday, Delegate Mike McDermott (R-Worcester & Wicomico Counties) stood up on the House Floor for seasonal businesses in Ocean City. Delegate McDermott introduced anamendment to exempt seasonal businesses in Ocean City from the new minimum wage requirements currently being discussed in the House.
House Bill 295, entitled the “Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014,” increases the minimum wage in Maryland to $10.10 by 2016. State law currently sets minimum wage at $7.25. While amusement parks, like Six Flags in Prince George’s County, would be exempt from the raise, businesses in Ocean City, who are known for hiring seasonal high school and college workers, would be forced to adhere to the new raise.
“Prince George’s County wisely decided that locally this is what they needed to do,”Delegate McDermott argued. “Everyone across the state is dealing with their own issues and everyone is dealing with their own different unemployment rates.” Delegate McDermott’s argument holds that the counties, who are dealing with their own individual unemployment rates, should be able to decide what their own minimum wage is. “They should be able to decide for themselves whether it’s higher or whether it’s lower” Delegate McDermott continued.
Delegate McDermott argues that this action would hurt small businesses and ultimately take jobs away from the beach. “We struggle right now keeping these jobs available for these kids… The lower shore is not recovering; the unemployment rate is still soaring… Our Ocean City businesses will lose out to competition in Delaware with Bethany and Rehoboth Beaches and to competition in Virginia and North Carolina,” Delegate McDermott argued. “Ocean City is our world class resort and this state’s premier destination…The revenue from Ocean City paves a lot of roads in Baltimore City; the revenue from Ocean City does a lot for the state of Maryland,” McDermott concluded.
“The amendment that applies to Prince George’s County also holds true for Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset, and all of Maryland’s counties,” Delegate McDermott continued. The Prince George’s County amendment was created to address “seasonal, young workers, May to October - that’s the beach...If you can see it for a sector like Six Flags, or Jolly Rogers… if you can capture a vision for how [minimum wage] impacts that industry… Can you not see how that impacts an entire region like Ocean City?” asked Delegate McDermott. “I am telling you that you are driving up costs for business [which will drive up the costs for everyone else]... This is about creating an atmosphere where people can still afford to come and the employers can still afford to keep people there” McDermott continued.
Delegate McDermott had an exchange with the Floor Leader on the amendment. “So are you saying if we pass this amendment then you [Delegate McDermott] can vote for the bill?” asked Chairman Davis. “I’ll tell you what Mr. Chair, I am not going to make commitments on you doing the right thing… I shouldn’t have to vote one way or the other for you to do the right thing,” responded Delegate McDermott. “This is about doing the right thing. Apparently Mr. Chair you agree that it’s the right thing in some instances [but not in others]....If you can see it for one [industry] you would be blind in one eye to not see it in another. We are not race horses here with blinders on - we have to take the blinders off and look at the bigger picture to see what’s impacted...I certainly can’t vote for a bill that favors one [industry] over another,” concluded McDermott.
To listen to the floor debate on Delegate McDermott’s amendment, click here. The amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 47-89.