The Baltimore City Council is continuing its examination of a city wide wage increase that would pay thousands of people more than double the federal minimum wage.
So far, the discussion has not led to a consensus, but Thursday, there was progress.
Raising the wage from $8.75 an hour to $15 an hour has polarized the city council at times. Thursday, its most powerful member, Council President Jack Young, said he is now opposed to anything beyond $11.50.
The main sticking point appears to be the effect a $15 minimum wage would have on small businesses. The city council labor committee, which is charged with reviewing the legislation, added two new amendments Thursday.
One of the amendments would exempt businesses with less than 50 employees from having to pay the $15 wage, as well as businesses that make less than $500,000 in annual gross income.
The other would bring wages for "tipped-workers" to $5 an hour instead of $15 by 2024. Originally, those workers were set to make $15 an hour, up from the current $3.63 per hour.
The bill's sponsor, councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, believes it strikes a key balance between workers and businesses.
"That's a big concession," said Clarke of the 14th district. "That covers a lot of people, but it leaves most of the people we're trying to reach and help."
The bill would see the wage increase in stages, finalizing by 2022. The final hearing is set for Thursday, July 28. If it passes, it will head to the entire council for review.