Maryland embraced President Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on Monday, the second state to do since Connecticut acted last month.
The Maryland General Assembly voted for the pay raise on the last day of its 2014 regular session, giving Gov. Martin O’Malley a victory on his top priority this year. The governor, in his last year in office, has staked out a consistently liberal record as he weighs running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Mr. O’Malley thanked lawmakers “for giving so many Maryland families the raise they deserve.”
The governor also said he would sign a bill passed Monday that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. Violators caught with less than 10 grams of the drug would be issued the equivalent of a traffic ticket and would pay a fine rather than face criminal prosecution.
Action on the minimum wage has moved to the states with congressional Republicans refusing to act on Mr. Obama’s call to lift the federal minimum wage from $7.25. Eight states and the District of Columbia have raised their base wages in 2013 and 2014 as Democrats seek to use economic inequality as a rallying point in the midterm elections.
Also on Monday, Democrats, who control the Minnesota State Legislature, said they reached a deal to lift the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2016 for large employers, from the current rate of $6.15. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, is seeking re-election.