Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has signed legislation to gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, reaching the target rate by July 2018. The first step is a hike to $8 an hour on Jan. 1, 2015.

The wage hike was O'Malley's legislative priority for the last of his eight years in office, though he wanted an earlier start date for the new minimum wage.

“It is not fair, it is not right, it is not just that people should play by the rules, work 16-hour days and still be raising their children in poverty,” O’Malley said at a ceremony Monday, May 5, during which he signed more than 200 bills into law.

Other states' rates are going up soon as well. Delaware's rate will rise to $7.75 an hour on June 1, and California's will follow a month later with a hike to $9 an hour on its way to $10 an hour on Jan. 1, 2016.

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