April 7, 2014

State Roundup, April 7, 2014

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WAGE HIKE: The Senate voted 34-13 on Saturday to gradually increase the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next four years. The measure, HB295, now returns to the House of Delegates for action on substantial changes made by the Senate Finance Committee on the exemptions, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com.

LEGISLATORS PAY RAISE: Sen. David Brinkley said before the Senate ended its Saturday morning session that he had 12 of 16 signatures required to allow a vote on the Senate floor on automatic pay raises for legislators, reports Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital. Brinkley said he knew having such a vote didn’t mean the Senate would reject the scheduled raises. But he said there should be a vote.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The state legislative session is winding down, but in the hours that remain, lawmakers are still weighing major initiatives such as a minimum-wage increase and a strategy for dealing with a court ruling on initial bail hearings, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

BUDGET PASSES: The General Assembly fulfilled its state constitutional duty Saturday by wrapping up action on Gov. Martin O’Malley’s nearly $39 billion operating budget, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

ELECTION YEAR SESSION: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post runs through the highlights and the low lights of the Maryland General Assembly session – which bills passed, which didn’t and why.

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HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL: As Maryland prepares for a major overhaul of its troubled health exchange — switching out buggy software for Connecticut’s proven technology — lawmakers and information technology experts are raising new concerns about whether there is enough oversight to prevent a second failure, Meredith Cohn, Andrea Walker and Erin Cox report in the Sun.

FILM TAX CREDIT: Maryland lawmakers tentatively set aside up to $18.5 million to reimburse the film industry next year, but they created a few ways to prevent the state from being bullied by Hollywood, Erin Cox of the Sun writes.

POT DECRIMINALIZATION: Following hours of hot debate, negotiation and shouting, the House of Delegates Saturday approved removing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana in a 78-55 vote, Jeremy Bauer-Wolf reports in MarylandReporter.com.

DOG BITE BILL: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Frederick Kunkle of the Washington Post talk about the General Assembly’s compromise on a law that addresses liability for dog owners when their pets injure someone.

GOOD SAMARITAN BILL: The General Assembly handed a bill off to the governor on Friday that would provide some protection from arrest for people who seek help for a friend or family member experiencing an overdose, reports Jennifer Shutt in the Salisbury Daily Times.

SHACKLING PREGNANT INMATES: Maryland lawmakers are poised to outlaw the shackling of pregnant inmates. The proposed law would make it illegal to shackle incarcerated women while they are in labor, delivery and recovering from giving birth, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

COMBINED REPORTING: A lawmaker trying to bring combined reporting to Maryland appears to have failed for the third straight legislative session, but a recent ruling by Maryland’s highest court has some worried that the change will come even without legislation, writes Gary Haber in the Baltimore Business Journal.

WA CO BILLS PASS: With one day left in the 2014 session of the Maryland General Assembly, all four bills introduced this year by Washington County lawmakers have been passed by the state legislature, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

HIGHWAY CROSSWALKS: Lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on Friday that would allow the State Highway Administration to install crosswalks on divided highways where people regularly cross. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Mathias and Del. Norm Conway, was proposed after a 16-year-old was killed and his brother seriously injured last year at a Berlin intersection, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

ANTI-SEXTING LAWS: Child pornography and sexting laws differ from state to state. And while 17 states have anti-sexting laws, Maryland has none, reports Mary Rose Madden for WYPR-FM.

ROBEY SIGNS OFF: State Sen. James Robey says there was no grand ambition, no plan to ascend to where he now sits as majority leader of the Maryland Senate, or to have made the unusual leaps from Howard County police chief to county executive to legislator, writes Arthur Hirsch in the Sun. After 48 years, after a string of four uncontested primaries and four general election wins without a loss, after having a county building named after him, the Democrat representing District 13 figures enough is enough.

GOP DEBATE: College Republicans at Johns Hopkins and Loyola universities, along with the state and city GOP, are hosting a gubernatorial primary debate this coming Thursday at Shriver Hall on the JHU Homewood campus. The link for reserving a free debate ticket is mdgopdebate.eventbrite.com, which has more details.

GEORGE FUND-RAISER: Maryland Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ron George is circulating an invitation for a fundraiser this month that will feature a special guest: former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. Attendees, the invitation says, can get a signed copy of Ehrlich’s latest book, “America: Hope for Change.” Sound familiar? There’s good reason, writes John Wagner for the Post.

HOGAN CAMPAIGNS: Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan spent time with Cecil County leaders, business owners and the general public as his campaign made a stop in the county, writes Jacob Owens for the Cecil Whig.

DR. HARRIS: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris didn’t forget his long-time colleagues in the medical field after he began serving in Congress in 2011 — and they didn’t forget him, Nicole Gaudiano writes in the Salisbury Daily Times. The Maryland Republican, who continues practicing as an anesthesiologist, has kept the interests of fellow anesthesiologists and other doctors in mind, pushing policies they consider a priority. And health professionals from across the country have played a significant role in helping finance Harris’ races.

REGISTER OF WILLS CONTROVERSY: Blogger Hassan Giordano publishes campaign literature for a register of wills candidate that suggests she already holds the job and has held other posts she hasn’t.

PG SNOW WAIVER: The last day of school in Prince George’s County will be Friday, June 13. Prince George’s County Public Schools announced that Maryland State Superintendent Lillian Lowery had approved a modified, two-day waiver for inclement weather days. Originally, the school system applied for a four-day waiver, Sara Toth reports in the Sun.

ORPHANS COURT JUDGES’ PAY: General Assembly passed a bill on Friday that will increase the salary for Wicomico orphans court judges from $6,400 to $9,500, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. The increase, which passed the House and Senate unanimously, will not take effect until after the November election.