March 26, 2014

State Roundup, March 26, 2014

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WAGE HIKE STANDOFF: The standoff in Annapolis over raising the minimum wage intensified Tuesday, as Gov. Martin O’Malley met with Senate President Mike Miller to press for action on the proposal — one of his top legislative priorities. Meanwhile, writes Timothy Wheeler in the Sun, a key senator threatened to amend the measure to require state-funded pay increases for workers caring for developmentally disabled adults and children.

MEDICAL POT: A Maryland Senate panel has advanced a measure designed to overhaul the state’s medical marijuana law and make the program more workable, reports Frederick Kunkle in the Post. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted Tuesday to endorse a measure that would revise the law passed last year by making changes in how certifying doctors would be able to prescribe medical marijuana for patients.

BAIL REVIEW TOOLS: A measure that would eventually create a new statewide pretrial unit in Maryland to determine who should be freed and who should be held in jail pending trial moved forward Tuesday in after a tense debate in a Senate panel, reports Frederick Kunkle in the Post.

PREGNANT INMATES: The Maryland Senate is poised to approve enhanced rights for pregnant inmates today, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. The Healthy Births for Incarcerated Women Act would restrict when a jail or prison can shackle a woman who is in labor or giving birth.

LAWMAKERS OPPOSE LEGISLATIVE PAY HIKES: Six Republican lawmakers from Frederick County are united in their disapproval of the 15.7% pay increase set to kick in for Maryland legislators over the next four years, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. Salaries for members of the Maryland General Assembly are on course to step up from their current level of $43,500 to $50,330 by 2018 unless legislators intervene.

For Maryland Day Tuesday, a hand-sewn replica of the Fort McHenry flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner was unfurled in the State House rotunda. September marks the bicentennial of the British bombardment and the poem by Francis Scott Key.

For Maryland Day Tuesday, a hand-sewn replica of the Fort McHenry flag that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner was unfurled in the State House rotunda. September marks the bicentennial of the British bombardment and the poem by Francis Scott Key.

GOP BUDGET ALTERNATIVE: Republican members of the Maryland House of Delegates are calling on the legislature to trim next year’s budget and avoid cutting payments to the state’s pension fund, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. The House Minority Caucus presented its alternative budget plan Tuesday, which reduces spending growth to 1% from the fiscal year 2015’s budget proposed 4%. They plan on offering these amendments Wednesday.

WHISTLEBLOWER BILL: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that legislation to expand Maryland’s False Health Claims Act to cover all state contractors drew strong objections Tuesday from representatives of Maryland’s business community, who said preventing fraud should remain the state’s responsibility and should not be turned into an incentive for individuals to file questionable lawsuits in search of whistleblower recoveries.

NEARING THE END: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts Daily Record’s government reporter Bryan Sears, who offers up an update as the end of the 2014 Maryland General Assembly session nears.

KNOCKING WIND OUT OF WIND: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that it’s entirely conceivable that now that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski has issued a statement casting doubt on a proposal to put wind turbines in the Chesapeake Bay, Gov. Martin O’Malley and other project proponents have lost the battle in the Maryland General Assembly.

COMMON CORE: Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter.com writes that less than a quarter of Maryland teachers said they were “very familiar” with the Common Core State Standards when asked about it last fall for a survey conducted for the Maryland State Department of Education. The new standards-based education curriculum was adopted by Maryland in 2010 and was supposed to be fully implemented by the 2013-2014 school year.

SCHOOL DAY WAIVERS: This winter’s unrelenting snows have prompted the Maryland State Board of Education to vote to allow school systems to apply for waivers of up to five days from the 180-instructional day requirement, and authorized the state superintendent to make the waiver decisions on a case-by-case basis, Alisha George writes in the Carroll County Times.

HAZING BILL: Legislation that would increase penalties for hazing received preliminary Senate approval on Tuesday, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. Sponsored by Mongtomery County Sen. Jamie Raskin, the bill  would increase the criminal penalty for hazing from $500 to $5,000. The amount of jail time would remain capped at six months

UP & COMERS IN THE GOP: Richard Cross, a former Capitol Hill and Annapolis press secretary and speechwriter, returns to Center Maryland to talk about some of the up-and-coming stars in the Maryland GOP.

CURBS ON RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN AA: Anne Arundel County’s state Senate delegation has a message for school board members who might be tempted by other offices in 2018 — don’t think about it. Four members of the delegation agreed Friday on a proposal to bar Board of Education members from running for state, county or municipal office during their terms, reports Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital.

MAINTENANCE OF EFFORT: Montgomery County officials are feeling handcuffed by a state mandate on school funding, writes Ryan Marshall in the Gazette. On March 17, County Executive Ike Leggett submitted a proposed operating budget with $2.164 billion in state and federal money for Montgomery County Public Schools. The school system would receive $1.5 billion from the county under Leggett’s proposal, $26 million more than what the state’s maintenance of effort law requires.

PRIEBUS KEYNOTES AA GOP EVENT: The head of the Republican National Committee is slated to speak next month in Anne Arundel County, writes Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus will be the keynote speaker at the Anne Arundel GOP’s 2014 Lincoln-Reagan Day Celebration.

!@#%&#@!# IN OCEAN CITY: Oh, fudge. Holy moly. Dagnabbit. Whether you’ve been bitten by a crab or spent six hours snarled in Bay Bridge traffic, Ocean City hopes you’ll mind your language. Town officials will soon be posting signs along the boardwalk asking visitors to refrain from cursing, writes Julie Scharper in the Sun.

FBI IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about Maryland’s efforts to lobby the federal government to relocate the FBI’s headquarters to Prince George’s County, and why it might not be an easy sell.