State Roundup, February 28, 2019

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$15 MINIMUM WAGE BILL: The House of Delegates gave initial approval Wed­nesday to legislation requiring a $15 minimum wage, a priority for progressive Democrats that failed to advance to the House floor in previous years, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.

OPINION: WAGE HIKE’s NEGATIVE IMPACT: Mike O’Halloran of NFIB in Maryland writes in an op-ed in MarylandReporter how a $15 minimum wage will negatively impact several small businesses in the the state.

POLS CALL FOR LISANTI’s RESIGNATION: Political leaders across Maryland called Wednesday on Harford County Del. Mary Ann Lisanti to resign after her use of a racial slur at an Annapolis bar last month — including demands from Gov. Larry Hogan, the leader of her own party and the state’s influential Legislative Black Caucus, write Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

‘BUSCH MISSED OPPORTUNITY:’ House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) missed an opportunity to exhibit greater leadership in the immediate aftermath of the controversy swirling around Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, African-American leaders of both parties told Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters Wednesday.

PREAKNESS & PIMLICO: Baltimore City leaders are making an urgent call for action with the future of the Pimlico Race Course on the line. Pimlico is on its last legs, both literally and figuratively. The future of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore is in doubt. With support in the General Assembly waning, Mayor Catherine Pugh is asking residents to go to Annapolis on Friday to support her bill that would likely preserve the race’s future for another year, writes Holden Wilen in the BBJ.

  • The Preakness Stakes will remain at Pimlico Race Course at least through 2020 as the track’s owner seeks to ready a “super track” at Laurel Park that could host the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown in the future. The owner of the race and the 149-year-old Pimlico track said Wednesday that Laurel Park would not be ready to host the Preakness in 2020 — even if the General Assembly approved a change of venue, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.

FIXING IMBALANCE IN OPPORTUNITY ZONES: Baltimore’s Opportunity Zone guru said commercial real estate development is dominating investor interest in the federally created tax shelters, while operating businesses are failing to attract similar attention. Ben Seigel told the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Wednesday that the “More Opportunities for Marylanders” bill may help correct the imbalance, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports.

REGULATING LONG GUNS: Rachael Pacella, a reporter with the Annapolis Capital, doesn’t know if proposed legislation requiring rifles and shotguns to be regulated like handguns would prevent another mass shooting, like the one she survived. But Pacella, who survived the June massacre at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, told a state Senate committee Wednesday that it if stricter gun laws stop even one death, that would be enough, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.

VACATING ‘UNJUST’ CONVICTIONS: Spurred by difficulties vacating convictions from prosecutions that involved officers from the former Gun Trace Task Force, a group of prosecutors and criminal justice reform advocates are supporting legislation to create a new mechanism in the law, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.

HOGAN BILL TO EXPAND P-TECH DIES: Gov. Larry Hogan’s legislation to expand the number of schools participating in the state’s technology education program died late Tuesday in a Senate committee — sparking harsh criticism from the governor’s office. Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George’s County Democrat, said the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, which he chairs, voted down the bill, which would have allowed more schools to participate in the state’s P-TECH program, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.

KIRWAN PLAN GETS CONGRESSMEN’s SUPPORT: Maryland’s congressional delegation has voiced strong support for a sweeping plan to reform the state’s educational system. In a meeting in the House on Tuesday with some of the state’s congressional delegation, commission chairman Brit Kirwan, former president of the University of Maryland, College Park and former chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said the state’s educational system is “mediocre” and more needs to be done to strengthen it, Carolina Velloso of the Capital News Service reports.

OPINION: U.S. REP. CUMMINGS REDEEMS HEARING: Sun TV critic David Zurawik writes that after a day of raw, nasty, partisan mud wrestling that made you want to weep at the sorry state of American politics, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings stepped up at the end of the Michael Cohen TV hearing and redeemed the whole sad spectacle with his passionate and poetic plea for a better America.