Over the summer, I wrote about the living wage bill passed by the DC Council. The Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA) increases the DC minimum wage from $8.25 to $12.50 for certain large retailers in the city.
But DC Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the bill today. In a letter to the DC Council, Gray wrote, “If I were to sign this bill into law, it would do nothing but hinder our ability to create jobs, drive away retailers, and set us back on the path to prosperity for all.”
It was feared that Walmart would cancel plans for new stores in the city if the LRAA went into effect. Two Walmart stores are slated to open later this year or early in 2014: one at 5968 Georgia Avenue in Northwest and the other at 99 H Street in Northwest. A third Walmart at Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue in Northwest is scheduled to open in 2015. The final three stores at East Capitol and 58th Streets NE, Good Hope Road and Alabama Avenue SE, and New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road NE do not have opening dates set since they are waiting on the final status of the LRAA.
Gray says that his veto helps to preserve planned projects like redevelopment of the Skyland shopping center in Ward 7. He wrote, “The bill will not modestly delay economic development in underserved District neighborhoods long deprived of jobs and retail amenities; it will kill economic development in these communities for a generation.”
Gray hopes to increase DC’s minimum wage in the future, which will increase wages for all minimum wage earners in the city, rather than only those who work for select large retailers.
The veto is not the final word on the LRAA, since the DC Council can override the mayor’s veto with the support of nine of the 13 members. That vote is scheduled for next week, so we may soon know if the living wage bill will go into effect or not.