February 19, 2014

State Roundup, February 19, 2014

Print More

WORKING ON WAGE BILL: Decision time has arrived in the minimum wage debate, writes Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital. The Senate Finance Committee on Monday heard Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to raise the minimum wage from to $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016. With House and Senate committee hearings now past, the lawmakers must consider whether to change the proposal. They are also considering proposals to leave decisions on the minimum wage up to the counties.

MANDATED SICK LEAVE: Almost half of the House of Delegates is sponsoring legislation to mandate many Maryland businesses offer paid sick and safe leave for their employees, a move one research group estimates would cost employers $165 million, reports Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com.

SPEED CAMERA REGULATION: An Anne Arundel County lawmaker has resumed his fight against inaccurate speed cameras in Maryland, this time with legislation that would change the way local governments pay speed camera operators, reports Jack Lambert in the Annapolis Capital. The legislation would bar cities or counties from paying speed camera operators on a per-ticket basis starting June 2017. Cameras would be banned from operating in school zones with speed limits under 20 mph and could be installed only less than a half mile from a school building.

RAISING HIGHWAY SPEED LIMIT: A bill that would allow highways officials to raise interstate speed limits to 70 mph, including the speed limit on Interstate 68, has won a key vote in a House committee, reports Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News.

POULTRY WASTE TO ENERGY: With the governor on board but utility companies opposed to a poultry litter to energy bill, the Senate Finance committee was left to consider a lot on Tuesday. The 11 members, including co-sponsor Sen. Jim Mathias, now have to decide if individuals, cooperatives and public service companies can use anaerobic digestion to convert poultry litter into energy, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

MICROBREW PRODUCTION: Representatives for the licensed beverage association and Maryland beer wholesalers spoke against a proposal that would allow Evolution Craft Brewery to produce more than 22,500 barrels per year, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

GANSLER SEEKS TO OVERTURN BAIL RULING: Attorney General Doug Gansler urged Maryland’s top court Tuesday to overturn its landmark decision that arrestees have a state constitutional right to counsel at initial bail hearings, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record. In papers filed with the Court of Appeals, Gansler said the court was wrong to hold that the Constitution’s due-process provision requires defendants to be provided counsel at this pre-trial stage. A defendant’s liberty is not directly at stake in an initial hearing, as it is in a bail review hearing before a judge and at trial, when counsel is constitutionally mandated, he added.

CATHOLIC LOBBY NIGHT: The Maryland Catholic Conference held its 30th annual Lobby Night on Monday, drawing 325 Catholics from around Maryland and Delaware to speak with legislators in Annapolis about issues important to the state’s bishops, reports Maria Wiering for the Catholic Review. Some of those issues include raising the state’s minimum wage and mandating paid sick leave, efforts to build immigrants’ trust of law enforcement and banning abortions after a fetus can feel pain.

Campaign On banner 2 Polling

CLOSING COLBURN’S FILES: The editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times wrote that it was highly troubling that a judge in Dorchester County sealed records and public access involving the Sen. Richard Colburn divorce case. Even though the two parties say the case has been settled and records will be made available to the public again as of March 1, the case should never have been sealed in the first place.

DELANEY SEEKS RE-ELECTION: U.S. Rep. John Delaney filed for re-election Tuesday, a move likely to end speculation that he could run for governor, writes John Wagner in the Post. There had been chatter for more than a month about the first-term congressman from Montgomery County making a late entry into the Democratic field, fueled in part by a telephone poll that included Delaney’s name as an option for governor.

Sen. J.B. Jennings and his three-month old son, little J.B., were all over the State House Tuesday, wearing matching red ties and white shirts (and blue blazers, but the boy had his jacket off since he was working.) Photo by MarylandReporter.com

Sen. J.B. Jennings and his three-month old son, little J.B., were all over the State House Tuesday, wearing matching red ties and white shirts (and blue blazers, but the boy had his jacket off since he was working.) Photo by MarylandReporter.com

BROWN LEADS GANSLER: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown holds a 2-to-1 lead over his closest rival in Maryland’s bitter Democratic gubernatorial primary race, according to a new Washington Post poll, though most voters say they could change their minds before the June contest. John Wagner and Scott Clement write the story. Here’s the chart of the results.

CRAIG PROPOSES INCOME TAX CUT: Republican David Craig said Tuesday that, during his first year as governor, he would push to cut the state income tax rate for Maryland’s wealthiest residents of more than 20%, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. Craig, one of four GOP candidates running in June’s primary, said his plan would put Maryland on a course to eliminate its income tax entirely during his second term while cutting spending by 3% a year. He said such a move would stimulate economic growth and halt a loss of population to states with lower taxes.

CANDIDATES ON THE ATTACK

  • MIZEUR SMACKS BROWN: Erin Cox of the Sun reports that as hopefuls in the governor’s race debated transportation Tuesday night, Del. Heather Mizeur questioned Lt. Gov. Brown’s competence in light of the failing health care exchange he oversaw. Mizeur said the pending public-private-partnership to build the 16-mile Purple Line between Prince George’s and Montgomery counties would cost 10 times the amount of money spent on the online insurance marketplace. And like the health exchange, the Purple Line deal was complicated and challenging to implement, she said.
  • GANSLER JOINS IN: Attorney General Doug Gansler also sharply questioned Brown’s leadership abilities during the forum, which was sponsored by a Purple Line advocacy group, writes John Wagner of the Post. Afterward, Gansler said to reporters: “These are the same people who couldn’t get a Web site going, so how do you imagine them getting the trains running?”
  • Gansler also said Tuesday that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, would make a better governor than Brown, Erin Cox reports in the Sun. “Oh, yeah, I think everybody knows that,” Gansler said after a candidate’s forum in Silver Spring.