Maryland Gov. Wes Moore makes minimum wage increase, tax credits, Child Victims Act first bills signed into law

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Gov. Wes Moore, in his first act of signing bills into law, officially pushed measures over the finish line that will raise the state minimum wage to $15 ahead of schedule, expand tax credits for families with low incomes and allow more survivors of child sexual abuse to sue those who abused them.

Moore’s signature on those and dozens of other bills Tuesday marked the completion of some of the first-year Democratic governor’s top priorities and one, the Child Victims Act, that advocates and lawmakers had pushed for aggressively after years of coming up short.


A campaign promise now come to fruition, the minimum wage will move from $13.25 to $15 on Jan. 1, one year earlier than it previously was scheduled to.

The Family Prosperity Act, meanwhile, will permanently extend an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and expand the Child Tax Credit, which is a $500 payment for each child under the age of 6 in families that earn $6,000 or less. The new law will expand that credit to families that earn $15,000 or less. Moore said Tuesday it would help 34,000 children and mark progress on his goal to eliminate child poverty while in office.


“The face of child poverty is universal,” said the Democratic governor, mentioning its presence in communities from Western Maryland to Baltimore to the Eastern Shore. “We refuse to look away, and we refuse to tolerate it.”

He said both the expansion of tax credits and the minimum wage hike would provide “a little extra cushion” for families similar to his own when he was growing up. Turning to his mother, Joy Moore, seated a few steps away, he said he “saw the difference that a little extra money in the bank could make.”

“Now, this morning, my mom gets to watch her son sign legislation into law that will help other mothers like her in this state,” Moore said before handing her the first pen, a traditional gift after governors use them to sign bills, and giving her a hug.

The emotional ceremony continued after Moore put his mark on those first two bills, when he spoke at length about the significance of the Child Victims Act.

He referred to the “sickening” and “heartbreaking” report released last week by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office that revealed how 156 clergy and other Baltimore Catholic Church officials abused and tormented more than 600 children and young adults since the 1940s.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore shakes hands with Dave Lorenz of SNAP as bill sponsor Del. C. T. Wilson, Economic Matters Committee Chair comforts him after Moore signed HB, the Child Victims Act.

The report’s pending release this year gave momentum to the bill, which will remove the statute of limitations on child sex abuse lawsuits and create a “lookback window” to file retroactive lawsuits. Under current law, lawsuits can’t be brought by adults if the victim is now older than 38.

“There’s no statute of limitations on the pain that these victims continue to deal with. There is no statute of limitations on the hurt that endures for decades after someone is assaulted. There is no statute of limitations on the trauma that haunts so many still to this day,” Moore said.

In a tender moment, Moore thanked and introduced Del. C.T. Wilson, a Charles County Democrat who pushed for the changes for years while sharing his own story of being sexually abused as a child.


“The odds were longer than they should have been,” Moore said.

Wilson, his voice cracking at times, said the survivors who lobbied on the issue in Annapolis every year “had the audacity to get their hopes up just to be derided and dismissed by” the General Assembly.

“As this bill is signed ... there should be so many more people standing up here,” said Wilson, who embraced Moore a few times and received the pen Moore used to sign the law.

Maryland Policy & Politics


Keep up to date with Maryland politics, elections and important decisions made by federal, state and local government officials.

The ceremonial signing event came just 12 hours after the General Assembly worked until its midnight deadline to finish its work during the annual 90-day session.

Hundreds of bills — from small, local bills to a landmark bill that creates a new recreational cannabis industry — made their way through the chambers this year and are now before Moore.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore hands out pens after signing the Family Prosperity Act on Tuesday afternoon.

Democrats, who control a supermajority of both the House and Senate, passed all 10 of the governor’s own bills, though several were scaled back. Changes included measures to minimize the long-term impact of Moore’s minimum wage plan by removing a provision he wanted that would have required the wage to automatically increase every year with inflation. That bill, named the Fair Wage Act, also pushed back the enactment of the $15 wage, from Moore’s proposed Oct. 1 to Jan. 1.


Other top-priority bills for Moore were the SERVE Act, which would create a year of service program for young adults out of high school, and the Keep Our Heroes Home Act, which would exempt military retirement income from state taxes beyond what is currently allowed.

The governor is expected to sign those and hundreds of other bills over several events in the coming weeks.

Many of the roughly 90 bills signed Tuesday were locally focused bills, like those addressing alcoholic beverage licenses, or making various technical changes.

One was a bill Moore pledged last month to sign that will make changes to an existing Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, including changing the name to the Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs. Others included the establishment of Jan. 27 as Maryland Holocaust Remembrance Day and changes to the authority of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, which the state created in 2019 to study prescription drug costs. Under the new law, that board will have a process for setting upper payment limits for prescription drugs purchased by state or local governments.

For the record

An earlier version of this story misidentified Gov. Wes Moore in a photo caption.