WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Maryland legislature approved raising the state's minimum wage on Monday to $10.10 an hour, equaling the highest state rate and drawing praise from President Barack Obama.
The Democrat-controlled House of Delegates approved passage 87-47 and sent the bill to Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, who had made the measure a priority.
Maryland's entry-level wage is $7.25 an hour and was last raised in 2006. The bill would raise it in stages to $10.10 in July 2018.
Connecticut last month raised its minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, setting the highest U.S. state rate.
"Maryland's important action is a reminder that many states, cities and counties - as well as a majority of the American people - are way ahead of Washington on this crucial issue," Obama said in a statement.
Obama has pushed Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, from $7.25, after nearly half of states and the District of Columbia raised theirs. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has rejected his call.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish