D.C. COUNCIL BACK WAGE HIKE: The D.C. Council unanimously endorsed an $11.50-an-hour minimum wage for the nation’s capital Tuesday, completing a rare act of regional cooperation with the Maryland suburbs and setting up a stark contrast with the $7.25 federal minimum wage, reports Aaron Davis in the Post. By coordinating with lawmakers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which approved similar measures last month, the council put the three localities on the cusp of creating a contiguous region with 2.5 million residents and a minimum wage higher than any of the 50 states. Virginia requires employers to pay the federal rate.
PUBLIC DOCUMENTS: Melinda Roeder of WBFF-TV discovers just how expensive open government can be when WBFF requested copies of state documents and were told that labor and paper would cost $7,000 in one instance and $32,000 in another. When WBFF asked the Attorney General’s office for a list of public information requests received in the past two years and how much it charged to fulfill them, that request came with a $2,500 price tag. Sen. Bill Ferguson plans to introduce a bill which would require state agencies to err on the side of disclosure and make more data available digitally
ASSAULT SOLICITATIONS: Sen. Brian Frosh plans to introduce legislation to protect victims from fraudulent Internet “rape me” solicitations. Frosh and Del. Kathleen Dumais will sponsor the legislation that will characterize the use of another person’s identity when posting solicitations to rape and assault that person as a criminal act, and impose a 20-year penalty, according to a video report at WBFF-TV.
GOVERNMENT-FINANCED WORKERS: Maryland and Virginia are among the Top 5 states in the nation in the dubious competition for most government-financed employment, according to a new economic study, blogs Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. It turns out Virginia, Maryland’s closest fierce competitor for business, edges out Maryland in most categories for taxpayer-funded jobs
STATE HEALTH WEBSITE: Maryland health-care officials faced members of the House Health and Government Operations Committee to discuss the Affordable Care Act rollout, reports Kelcie Pegler for the Carroll County Times. Rebecca Pearce, of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, said that despite early adoption of the system, starting earlier turned out to be a hindrance to the Maryland health-care exchange.
Pearce also told the committee that despite continuing technical glitches, she believes the state can reach its goal of enrolling roughly a fifth of its uninsured residents by the end of March, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.
In a video story, John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports on yesterday’s hearing and continuing problems with the state health care website.
TERM LIMITS: Term limits and a two-thirds voting majority to increase taxes are among the proposals Del. Michael Hough said he intends to introduce when the Maryland General Assembly convenes its 2014 session in January, Dan Dearth reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
GUN CONTROL: During a Washington County legislative forum on Tuesday, residents railed against Maryland’s gun-control regulations and expressed fears that the so-called “rain tax” could come to the county, writes Dave McMillion for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Dels. Neil Parrott, LeRoy Myers and Andrew Serafini and Sens. Christopher Shank and George Edwards held the forum to get reaction on issues before the start of the next session of the Maryland General Assembly on Jan. 8.
BOW HUNTING ZONE: A Montgomery County lawmaker will try again to give archery hunters more room to help cull the county’s growing deer population, writes Kate Alexander in the Gazette. Del. Eric Luedtke has proposed a local bill to shrink the safety zone around Montgomery County buildings from 150 yards to 50 yards for bow hunters. Current state law prohibits shooting any firearm or deadly weapon, like a bow, within 150 yards of an occupied home, church or other building or camp. Around schools, the safety zone is 300 yards.
DEL. ARENTZ MAKES ROUNDS: Del. Steven Arentz introduced himself to the Cecil County Council Tuesday morning, challenging members to hold him accountable, writes Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig. Arentz was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in November to replace former Del. Steve Hershey, also of Queen Anne’s County.
HARRIS TAKES ON HEALTH POLICY: Three years after touting his medical background as he campaigned for Congress, Rep. Andy Harris is emerging as a top spokesman in opposition to Obamacare — and taking on other health policy issues as well, reports the Sun’s John Fritze. For Harris, a Baltimore County anesthesiologist who occasionally wore scrubs as he ran for office in 2010, the troubled rollout of the health care law is providing a platform just as he has expanded his reach on other medical issues — from human cloning to organ transplants for HIV patients.
WEIGHING AG RUN: Richard Douglas, a Republican lawyer who resides in College Park, is weighing a 2014 bid for attorney general of Maryland — an office that the state GOP left uncontested the last time it was on the ballot. Last year, reports John Wagner in the Post, Douglas finished second in the Republican U.S. Senate primary to Dan Bongino, who went on to lose in the general election to Sen. Ben Cardin.
Douglas said he is truly undecided about making a run, not announcing an intent to announce as some gubernatorial candidates have done, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. “I’m doing a gut check,” Douglas said.
MIZEUR ON PUBLIC FINANCING: Gubernatorial hopeful Heather Mizeur said Tuesday that she will participate in the state’s public-financing system next year, becoming the first candidate in 20 years to agree to limit overall spending in exchange for matching funds, writes John Wagner of the Post. Mizeur said her decision was consistent with a desire to run a grass-roots campaign at a time when corporate money is playing an outsize role at all levels of politics.
Mizeur, a two-term delegate from Montgomery County, will announce her decision as part of her roll out of a broad proposal to curb the influence of special interests on elections. Among the provisions will be replacement of Maryland’s current, limited financing scheme with a comprehensive system, reports Michael Dresser of the Sun.
WA CO DISPARITY GRANT LIKELY: Washington County will most likely get a share of a state wealth-based payment called the disparity grant for fiscal 2015, Del. Andrew Serafini said Tuesday at a meeting in which the county legislative delegation discussed priorities with various stakeholders, writes Kaustuv Basu in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
FREDERICK INCOME TAX: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News-Post reports that Del. Galen Clagett says Frederick County’s leaders should consider raising local income taxes to help pay for school construction and other capital projects. Clagett floated the idea Tuesday to a work group tasked with discussing county growth planning strategies. The group is looking at how the county should pay for infrastructure expansion to serve the growing population of students, drivers and library patrons.
DEMS AIDED COHEN: Maryland’s Democratic party, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, rallied around Josh Cohen before he was defeated by new Mayor Mike Pantelides in Annapolis’ general election, writes Jack Lambert in the Capital-Gazette. Campaign fund reports, released Tuesday by the Annapolis Board of Supervisors of Elections, show Cohen received at least $4,204 from political action groups and Democratic politicians days before the election.