The City Council of the District of Columbia has unanimously approved a hike to its minimum wage. The council had held a previous vote earlier in December in which every member endorsed the measure. While the second vote could have provided an opportunity for amendments to weaken the legislation, it turned out to be a formality. Now the bill goes to Mayor Vincent Gray for his signature.
The district council's vote is part of a regional movement to raise the minimum wage in the district and its two neighboring counties in Maryland. Earlier this month Governing reported on the careful coordination across the three elected bodies to elevate the local wage floor without putting any locality at a competitive disadvantage. In the district, the minimum wage would increase incrementally from $8.25 an hour today to $11.50 by 2016. Any future increases would be tied to the local rate of inflation, as determined by the Consumer Price Index. In November the councils of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties voted to raise to their local minimum wage as well, though they spread the increase over four years and did not tie it to inflation. In both cases, the votes were supported by veto-proof majorities and later signed by the county executive.
Even with the successful coordination of the three minimum wage bills, one hole in metro region remains. The Virginia counties surrounding the district, Arlington and Fairfax, cannot pass an increase to the minimum wage without explicit permission from the state's general assembly. The minimum wage in Virginia is the same as the federal minimum wage: $7.25 per hour.