PAID SICK LEAVE PROPOSAL: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will propose legislation requiring companies with at least 50 employees to provide five days a year of paid sick leave, triggering a likely standoff with Democratic lawmakers who tried to pass a more expansive law this year, Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post report.
- The plan would allow smaller businesses to get up to $20,000 a year in tax deductions for offering paid sick time, Erin Cox of the Sun is reporting. That proposal would cost the state roughly $63 million a year, Hogan aides said.
- Workers employed for less than 120 days in a 12-month period are exempted, writes Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Hogan said the tax relief was modeled after a recommendation of the Augustine Commission, a bipartisan panel studied ways to improve the state’s business climate.
- Hogan, who has not taken a position on the issue since taking office in 2015, said legislative inaction on it and concerns for the business community necessitated him attempting to take the reins, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes.
- The bill could represent something of an olive branch offering by Hogan. The Republican governor has avoided taking a stance on paid sick leave in the past, but has often found himself at odds with the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly. As Catherine Pugh has taken office, the Democratic mayor and Hogan have both said they want to work together, writes Holden Wilen in the Baltimore Business Journal.
- The bill would preempt legislation passed by the Montgomery County Council, which essentially requires all businesses to provide some kind of paid sick leave. That law became effective Oct. 1, Doug Tallman writes in Bethesda Beat.
SENATE REPLACEMENTS: Del. Barbara Robinson took a step Wednesday toward filling the state Senate seat vacated by new Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. The Democratic central committee for the district voted, 5-2, to recommend Robinson over former City Councilman William “Pete” Welch, Luke Broadwater and Erin Cox of the Sun report.
Montgomery County Democrats named Del. Will Smith Wednesday evening to succeed U.S. Rep-elect Jamie Raskin in the Maryland Senate, making him the first African-American to represent the county in that body. The county’s 28-member Democratic Central Committee chose Smith over fellow freshman Del. David Moon, Bill Turque of the Post writes.
MIKULSKI BIDS FAREWELL: U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, delivering an emotional farewell speech on the Senate floor Wednesday after four decades in Congress, called for a return to civility in politics, and vowed to continue serving Maryland as a private citizen, John Fritze of the Sun writes.
- Mikulski is the longest serving woman in the Senate. Over three decades in the chamber, she earned a reputation for determination and for forging odd-couple alliances with Republican men like Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and former Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., and racked up an impressive roster of accomplishments, the AP’s Andrew Taylor writes in the Daily Record.
- Since the 1990s, Mikulski has periodically organized dinners with the rest of the women in the Senate, no matter the party affiliation, writes CNS’s Maya Pottiger in the Daily Record. The women call these dinners their “zone of civility,” in which they talk about things ranging from their personal lives to political matters. Everything is off the record, their mantra being “no staff, no memos, and no leaks.”
UPDATE BOOZE LAWS: Maryland lawmakers should take note of what is happening in West Virginia, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News-Post. Brewers, winemakers and distillers in the Free State would also benefit by proposals to continue updating alcohol laws here. Ben Savage, president of the Maryland Brewers Association and head marketer for Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery, calls the state’s antiquated assortment of alcohol statutes “Franken-laws.”
CREATING WOMEN CANDIDATES: Emerge Maryland, the organization that trains Democratic women to run for office, announced its 2017 class Wednesday, and — with 23 candidates from eight jurisdictions, it is the largest class since the training began five years ago., Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun. Past graduates include state Del. Brooke Lierman of Southeast Baltimore and Baltimore City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed of East Baltimore.
HOGAN & TRUMP: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Wednesday that he plans to attend the Army-Navy game on Saturday in Baltimore but does not think he will have an opportunity to discuss the state’s needs with President-elect Donald Trump, who is also scheduled to attend the game, writes Ovetta Wiggins in the Post.
- Hogan said Wednesday he has a close relationship with Vice President-elect Mike Pence and already spent nearly two hours discussing his hopes and concerns about the new administration, writes Erin Cox in the Sun. The conversation took place at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Florida, Hogan said. It included Pence, the governor of Indiana, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey In the week after the election.
HOW PUBLIC FINANCING WON IN HOWARD: Howard County voters approved setting up a system of public financing for people running for County Council and executive with a safe 7,500-vote margin, though the measure actually lost among people who voted on Election Day by 2,000 votes. Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that Question A proponents — a coalition of good government and progressive groups outspent the organized opponents — mostly Republicans — at least 10 to 1 if in-kind support from progressive organizations is counted.
PUGH BACKS ONGOING POLICE TALKS: Baltimore City Mayor Catherine E. Pugh affirmed her support Wednesday for ongoing negotiations between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice to lock in police reforms. But the new mayor said she does not want Baltimore to be forced to pay twice for changes already in place, writes Yvonne Wenger for the Sun.
BPW DEFERS ACTION ON BA CO CENTER: Sending a message to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, the Maryland Board of Public Works deferred action Wednesday on a proposed $2.3 million state contribution to a new horse riding center in Cockeysville, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.
MO CO MINIMUM WAGE HIKE DELAYED: Montgomery County Council member Roger Berliner, installed Tuesday by his colleagues for a one-year term as president, wasted no time exercising his prerogative by holding up action Wednesday on a closely watched bill to raise the county’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, Bill Turque writes in the Post.
HYATTSVILLE GIVES NON-CITIZENS VOTE: Hyattsville has become the first municipality in Prince George’s County to extend voting privileges to non-U.S. citizens in municipal elections, joining six other Maryland cities that passed similar measures years ago, Arelis Hernandez of the Post is reporting. The 11-member council voted unanimously Monday to allow residents to register if they provide government identification and proof of residency, including a sworn affidavit.