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Cardin predicts congressional deal on minimum wage

Maryland’s junior senator believes that a deal in Congress to pass minimum wage could be struck soon.

“I expect that it will pass,” Sen. Ben Cardin said. “We’re not there yet but it is likely that we’ll pass the minimum wage issue.”

Ben Cardin

Sen. Ben Cardin (The Daily Record/Rich Dennison)

Cardin said he expects the issue to be one of the points in President Barack H. Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

Cardin said the Senate will start with the legislation that will include an increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour as well as an increase for tipped employees. The bill would also likely include a provision to automatically increase the minimum wage and tie future increases to inflation.

“I do believe there is some effort to get a minimum wage bill done,” Cardin said, adding that he thinks there are a significant number of Republicans also interested in passing the bill.

Cardin said the intent is to allow workers on minimum wage to keep pace up with inflation.

“We’re trying to keep it level,” Cardin said. “We’re not trying to increase it.”

Maryland legislators are also considering increasing the minimum wage in Maryland to $10.10 per hour and an increase for tipped employees. Last year Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties increased the minimum wage in those respective jurisdictions to $11.50 an hour.

It is not clear how much the General Assembly will be willing to increase the wage. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller earlier predicted that Gov. Martin J. O’Malley’s bill would not come out of the legislature as it was introduced.

Both he and House Economic Matters Chairman Dereck E. Davis have expressed concerns about increasing the wage to $10.10 and about a provision that ties future increases to inflation.

Some Maryland lawmakers would prefer that the federal government take action and raise the minimum wage in all 50 states. It’s not clear if Congress will act before the Maryland General Assembly’s 90-day session ends in April.

“It’s not going to happen immediately,” Cardin said.