Carroll commissioners support counties setting minimum wage

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners Thursday voiced their support for House Bill 293, a bill that would allow counties to set their own minimum wage, instead of having the state set the wage.

In a letter to Del. Dereck E. Davis, a Democrat from Prince George's County who chairs the House economic matters committee, the all-Republican board stated its belief that "county governments best understand the economy, competition, and citizens' needs in their counties and governments at the local level should be able to set a minimum wage vote independently based on these factors."

The commissioners voted unanimously to send a copy of the letter to members of the House economic matters committee and the Senate finance committee, expressing their support for the counties' ability to set the minimum wage.

"If there has to be some decision on the minimum wage effecting the citizens of our county, it should be here and not in Annapolis," Commissioners President Dave Roush said.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has introduced bills in the House and Senate that would incrementally raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016 while indexing increases to inflation.

House Bill 293, introduced by Republican Del. Neil Parrott of Washington County, is currently in the House of Delegates economic matters committee.

Commissioner Doug Howard said he's not in favor of the government setting a minimum wage, but if it comes down to it, he prefers the counties have that power instead of the state.

Commissioner Richard Rothschild described the commissioners' vote as "defensive."

"If we do nothing, then the state will force us to raise our minimum wage," Rothschild said. "By passing this bill instead, we preserve local autonomy."

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