$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.
- The increase would be gradual from $10.10 per hour to $15. Delegates debated the measure for a little less than an hour, with Republicans unsuccessfully attempting to amend the bill to exempt more workers from eventually receiving the $15 wage, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes.
- Republicans from Maryland’s rural counties offered amendments aimed at curtailing the bill, but they were handily defeated by Democrats who have made raising the state’s minimum wage their top priority this year. The bill now moves onto a third reading. It will likely be passed and then move onto the Senate, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
- Opponents representing the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland decried the bill’s impact on rural areas, especially where businesses compete with neighboring jurisdictions that have lower minimum wages, such as Delaware ($8.75), Pennsylvania ($7.25) and West Virginia ($8.75), Diane Rey reports in MarylandReporter.
- Hardly an hour after the House of Delegates moved forward a stripped-back $15 minimum wage bill, advocates gathered in Annapolis to turn lobbying efforts toward the crossfiled Senate bill, writes Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters.
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.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Del. Darryl Barnes (D), who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, said, “We know she is one of our colleagues, we know she is a Democrat, but party has nothing to do with the hatred and bigotry that comes out of someone’s mouth.”
- Gov. Larry Hogan along with leaders the Democratic Party — to which Lisanti belongs — are calling for the two-term Harford County legislator to step down after she acknowledged and apologized for using the “n-word” in a conversation earlier this year, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports that Maryland Democratic Party Chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings said, “African Americans comprise approximately a third of the voters in Lisanti’s district and they deserve to be represented by a person who is considerate of their views, a champion for their issues, respectful and appreciative of diverse people, and dedicated to cultivating an inclusive economy and democracy. For this reason, I support calls for Lisanti to resign her position.”
- One of the most disturbing things about what she said is that, ‘Doesn’t everyone speak this way?’” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said to reporters on Wednesday. Rachel Baye reports the story for WYPR-FM.
- The editorial board for the Sun agrees with calls for her resignation, opining that Del. Mary Ann Lisanti has tried to “apologize her way out of the firestorm … But we question her sincerity and don’t think it is enough to restore the trust of her constituents.”
‘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.