Criticism From Top Deputy Hints at Gray Veto of Living Wage Bill
Another day, another hint that Mayor Vince Gray will veto the living wage bill passed Wednesday by the D.C. Council. The Washington Business Journal reports that Gray's deputy mayor for planning and economic development, Victor Hoskins, is extremely critical of the Large Retailer Accountability Act of 2013—which would require retailers in excess of 75,000 square feet and with parent companies that gross at least $1 billion per year to pay a living wage of $12.50 an hour, minus prorated benefits—and its potential impacts. Walmart has threatened to cancel plans for at least three of its six D.C. stores if the bill becomes law.
"People have no idea how damaging this is," Hoskins told the paper. He also stated at a D.C. Council hearing today that three retailers besides Walmart are no longer interested in opening stores in the District because of the living wage bill—even if Gray vetoes it.
"[Retailers] had removed from their head the barrier that D.C. was a bad place to do business," Hoskins told the Washington Business Journal, noting that Walmart is not guaranteed to open its planned store at the Skyland Town Center even if Gray kills the bill. "Then, all of a sudden you get this dash of cold water. It has a chilling effect."
Gray has been skeptical of the legislation from the start. But the news that the entire Skyland Town Center development will likely fall through through if Walmart pulls out could seal the deal for a veto. The development is in Gray's home ward—Ward 7—and he insisted that Walmart open a store there if it wanted to move forward with its other planned D.C. stores.
Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro tells me that Gray is likely to move quickly to sign or veto the bill when it comes to his desk, which Ribeiro expects to be mid- to late next week.
Photo via dc.gov