Group of Senators Will Examine Small Business Relief

    A freshman senator has convened a bipartisan workgroup to look at possible aid for small business owners in light of the General Assembly’s passage of a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

    Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard, Carroll) was clearly conflicted when she voted last Thursday in favor of overriding the veto of the minimum wage bill by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

    On Tuesday, Hester announced that five senators will join her in working over the summer “to further address the needs of small businesses, including the use of tax credits, incentives, and the very definition of small business in Maryland laws.”

    Members of the workgroup include Senate Majority Leader Guy Guzzone (D-Howard), Senate Finance Vice Chair Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), Sen. Andrew Serafini (R-Washington), Sen. Christopher R. West (R-Baltimore County) and Sen. Mary Beth Carozza (R-Lower Shore). 

    Hester said lawmakers in Annapolis need to look at workers’ benefits and small business success comprehensively.

    “We cannot help businesses thrive without taking care of our employees, but we are making a fundamental mistake if we think we can require more out of our small businesses without looking at options to help them,” Hester said in a news release. “We can do better at being more inclusive on these issues, and I look forward to working with the members of the Senate to find solutions to lift up our small businesses and workers together.”

    A Hogan spokesman cast some doubt on the new work group’s mission.

    “It is no surprise that some of our legislators are already having second thoughts about this vote,” said Michael Ricci, the spokesman. “But there won’t be any second chances for small businesses hurt by this arbitrary minimum minimum wage increase.”

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.