State Roundup, January 28, 2019

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STATE NURSES SLATED FOR 11.5% RAISE: Nurses who work in state facilities and hospitals are among those who will benefit the most if the Maryland Health Department’s proposed FY 2020 budget remains intact, giving them a 11.5% raise, Diane Rey reports in MarylandReporter.

BATTLE HEATS UP OVER MINIMUM WAGE: A battle is shaping up in Annapolis over whether — and by how much — to increase Maryland’s minimum wage, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. After a four-year gradual increase, Maryland’s minimum wage reached $10.10 an hour last year, which is greater than the federal minimum of $7.25 and above what surrounding states require. But advocates and progressive leaders say $10.10 is not enough, and they are pushing lawmakers to raise the wage again — this time to $15 an hour.

MOST TOTS NOT READY FOR KINDERGARTEN: Less than half of Maryland’s children have the behavior and academic skills they need to be successful in kindergarten, according to a new state report. Liz Bowie of the Sun reports that across Maryland, 47% of students are prepared to learn, up two percentage points from last year, according to the report, released this past week.

GOP LAWMAKERS LAY OUT PRIORITIES: Republican leaders in Maryland’s House of Delegates on Friday released their legislative priorities for 2019, including a state income tax cut, a registry for violent repeat offenders, and single-member districts in the General Assembly, Luke Broadwater for the Sun reports.

PIMLICO PLAN PROPOSED: The president of the Baltimore Development Corp. told a meeting of Baltimore city and county lawmakers Friday that rebuilding Pimlico Race Course would likely require an investment of at least $125 million for infrastructure by Baltimore taxpayers — but could spur $700 million in additional development in the area, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. The 148-year-old track in Park Heights is the home of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

SHUTDOWN BILL PUSHED: Maryland Democrats are moving forward with emergency legislation to allow federal employees forced to work without pay during a government shutdown to collect unemployment insurance in the state. Although a 35-day partial federal shutdown ended Friday, state lawmakers say they are eager to correct what they call an anomaly in the law that disqualifies exempted workers from applying for benefits if another shutdown were to occur, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post.

MTA CONTINUES FREE FED RIDES: The Maryland Transit Administration will continue to offer free transit to federal employees who were affected by the partial government shutdown through the end of the day Friday, the agency announced Sunday. Colin Campbell of the Sun reports that Gov. Larry Hogan announced the free transit, part of a statewide effort known as #MDHelps, at BWI Marshall Airport on Thursday — one day before President Trump said he would reopen the government for three weeks while continuing to negotiate for money to build his long-promised border wall.

CRAFT BREWERS IMPACTED: Chris Burns thought he had escaped the uncertainty of working for the federal government when he left his IT contracting job five years ago to open a craft brewery in the D.C. suburbs. But even with the government shutdown over for now, he cannot widely distribute two new beers and had to cancel the release of a third. He also could face delays opening a second location. Jenna Portnoy of the Post focuses on Virginia and D.C. but her article also touches on how Maryland distribution and craft brewers are affected still.

OPINION: BAY TO SUFFER FROM SHUTDOWN: In a column for the Annapolis Capital, Jimmy DeButts opines, lunacy has consequences. Unfortunately, one of the long-term victims will again be the Chesapeake Bay. While the federal government shutdown is finally over, for Maryland farmers and the bay’s health, the wave of inactivity could have long-term ramifications.

OFFICIALS ATTEND MOUNTAIN COUNTY CONFAB: Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford spoke on Jan. 25 at the annual breakfast reception for the Mountain Maryland PACE convention, an annual gathering in Annapolis of state and local officials and other stakeholders from Garrett and Allegany counties. Rutherford was joined by Sen. Ben Cardin, Rep. David Trone and Comptroller Peter Franchot, as well as state Sen. George Edwards, Dels. Wendell Beitzel, Jason Buckel and Mike McKay, the Garrett County Republican reports.

OPINION: UNITY IN BEING AMERICAN: In an op-ed for Maryland Matters, Republican Del. Sid Saab of Anne Arundel County opines on the division that Americans seem to be harboring these days and writes that we, as Americans, must respect our differences and work together to make our country an example to the world: an America where we are Americans first, willing to put in the sacrifice and hard work to keep this country the greatest country the world has ever known. .

PUGH HAS $1M & A PAIR OF WOULD-BE CHALLENGERS: Over just four days this month, a torrent of money flowed into Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s campaign fund. The result: a balance of almost $1 million that serves as a show of strength to would-be challengers. Nonetheless, two high-profile city politicians told Ian Duncan of the Sun that they are considering mounting a challenge to the mayor, who has struggled to come to grips with a violent crime rate that began to rise before her election and has remained stubbornly high.

ON MONTGOMERY’s ECONOMY: During this hour-long Miner Detail podcast, Charlie Nulsen of Empower Montgomery and former Montgomery County Councilman Steve Silverman break down the latest Sage Policy Group report that shows a devastating economic outlook for Montgomery County with Ryan Miner.

BA CO TO HIRE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH FIRM: The Baltimore County school board will hire a firm to conduct a national search for a new superintendent, leaving less than six months to complete the process before a July 1 target to have a permanent superintendent secured, Liz Bowie of the Sun reports.

HOGAN PREZ WATCH: In the continuing speculation of Will Hogan Run for President, the New York Times’ Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman report that Gov. Larry Hogan is set to meet more formally in the coming weeks with Bill Kristol and Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist helping marshal opposition to President Trump.

RASKIN GETS SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR: With Democrats back in the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park is now “Mr. Chairman,” Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat. He will chair a new subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, with jurisdiction over civil rights and civil liberties issues. He was appointed by a fellow Marylander, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, who will chair the full Oversight and Reform Committee.