LEGISLATURE OVERRIDES WAGE, FRANCHOT BILL VETOES: Maryland on Thursday became the sixth state — and the first below the Mason-Dixon Line — to adopt a $15 minimum wage, with both chambers of the Democratic-majority legislature rejecting Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill he said would cause job losses and hurt small businesses, Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason report for the Post.
- Lawmakers also overrode a veto of a bill that strips state Comptroller Peter Franchot’s alcohol and tobacco enforcement authority, moving it to a new commission. And they took a step toward overriding Hogan’s veto of a bill that would overturn the governor’s order that public schools must start the academic year after Labor Day, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.
- The House is expected to take up a final override vote Friday on the last bill — Senate legislation ending Hogan’s post-Labor Day school start. The Senate voted to override that veto Thursday afternoon but not before the House finished its business for the day. The House is expected to have the votes needed for the override, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.
- Echoing concerns expressed by the governor, Republican lawmakers predicted that businesses will flee the state to avoid having to boost pay for entry-level workers. At $10.10, Maryland’s current minimum wage already exceeds Virginia and Pennsylvania ($7.25) and Delaware ($8.75) In Washington, D.C., it’s $13.25. Bruce DePuyt and Danielle Gaines report the story for Maryland Matters.
- Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that Baltimore Del. Melissa Wells says the current minimum wage of $10.10 an hour doesn’t cover the cost of living anywhere in Maryland. “And so, to hear people talk about how keeping people’s wages lower is going to help them because business can do better, that does not make sense,” she said during debate on the House floor. “That is illogical.”
- The Pick Four number to play Thursday in the legislative lottery was 32-15, according to MarylandReporter.com. In three successive party line votes in the Maryland Senate, that was the vote tally Democrats played to overcome Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of bills to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour and to allow Maryland schools to open before Labor Day, overturning the governor’s executive order.
DELEGATES OK ARMED FORCE FOR JHU: Over the objections of student protesters, Maryland’s House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve controversial legislation to authorize an armed police force for the private Johns Hopkins University — clearing the way for the bill to become law, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.
SENATE QUESTIONS BALTIMORE POLICE BILL: A bill that aims to give the city of Baltimore full control over its police department breezed through the House of Delegates earlier this month — passing by a vote of 137-0. But, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun, that same legislation is running into tough questioning from Baltimore’s Senate delegation, where at least three lawmakers call the bill “flawed,” worry it will cause city taxpayers to pay out millions more from police misconduct lawsuits, and argue it doesn’t even return full control of the police to the city as its supporters profess.
JALISI RETURNS AFTER REPRIMAND: For the first time since being reprimanded by his colleagues this week, Del. Jay Jalisi (D-Baltimore County) was back at his desk in the House chamber on Thursday. He voted on the many bills the House considered but he did not participate in floor debate. Nor did he appear to have much interaction with the lawmakers seated around him. On Wednesday, the House voted unanimously to reprimand Jalisi after an ethics investigation found “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior.”
ELECTRIC VEHICLE TAX CREDIT: Maryland state legislation could increase the tax credit received for electric cars to $3,000 per vehicle, Charlie Youngman of Capital News Service reports. Marylander’s currently receive $100 times the number of kilowatt-hours of the battery capacity of their electric vehicle with a maximum of $3,000. With this bill, each new electric vehicle purchased will count for $3,000 regardless of battery size.
TEDCO OVERSIGHT: The Senate got its first look at a heavily amended Senate Bill 340 on Wednesday morning, which would establish a new investment committee in the Maryland Technology Development Corporation – also known as TEDCO — subject to regulations and state ethics laws, add reporting requirements, and more narrowly define the types of Maryland-based businesses that would be eligible for initial funding, among other changes, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters.
- TEDCO’s leader said a critical audit allowed the agency to open a conversation with legislators about its mission and where it should be spending its resources, Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports. The Maryland Senate Thursday approved legislation to create more oversight and direction for the agency, something George Davis, TEDCO’s CEO, said was welcomed.
SEN. SMITH HEADS TO AFGHANISTAN: Maryland lawmakers bid farewell to Sen. Will C. Smith as he heads out on a deployment to Afghanistan with the Navy Reserve. As senators concluded a floor session Thursday, they wished their colleague well and prayed for his safe return in November to the United States. Sen. Bill Ferguson, who sits next to Smith on the Senate floor, called his colleague a “true American hero” for serving his country, Pamela Wood writes in the Sun.
- Smith reports for duty Friday as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve and deploy to Afghanistan for eight months in support of Operation Resolute Support, where he will mostly be doing intelligence work, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes.
‘FREEDOM OF PRESS DAY:’ The General Assembly voted unanimously to name June 28 “Freedom of the Press Day” in Maryland to honor the five victims who died in the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis on that date last year. The joint resolution of the two chambers passed the House of Delegates 137-0 on Wednesday and the Senate 46-0 earlier this month, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.
CERTIFYING CHARTER AMENDMENTS: A Senate bill that would adjust the timeline for possible charter amendment questions to be certified by the State Board of Elections continues to move through the General Assembly. Steve Bohnel writes in his Political Notes column for the Frederick News-Post. Senate Bill 1004 is a departmental bill, said Stuart Harvey, Frederick County’s election director. One part relevant to Frederick County voters is that County Attorney John Mathias must prepare and certify to the State Board of Elections each ballot question by the 95th day before the general election, which would be July 31, 2020.
PUGH APOLOGIZES: Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh apologized Thursday for striking a $500,000 deal to sell her self-published children’s books to the Maryland hospital system on whose board she sits, saying the agreement was a “regrettable mistake,” Rachel Chason reports in the Post.
- She for the first time produced evidence that 60,000 of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books have been printed and distributed. But she also said that 20,000 books for which she was paid $100,000 in 2017 were “delayed” and are only now being shipped, Ian Duncan and Doug Donovan report in the Sun.
- She led off with some barely audible words of remorse, Fern Shen of the Baltimore Brew writes. “I want to apologize that I’ve done something to upset the people,” she said yesterday in a hoarse whisper. At another point, she said, “I am deeply sorry for any lack of confidence and disappointment which this initiative may have caused.”
- Click here for documents, posted by the Sun, related to Pugh’s Healthy Holly book deal with UMMS.
- The mayor also showed off a line of pink and blue baby clothing she had designed with accessories that include baby bibs, baby blankets and a “Healthy Holly” jump rope. She said the clothing line was created as an extension of the books to help promote a healthy lifestyle for children with slogans like “Let’s Eat Healthy” printed on the bibs, Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
BILL WOULD HONOR HENRIETTA LACKS WITH RESEARCH: Maryland’s congressional delegation has introduced legislation to honor the life of Henrietta Lacks by examining access to cancer clinical trials and how it affects traditionally underrepresented groups, Phil Davis reports in the Sun. In a news release, U.S. Representatives Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes joined Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin in introducing the “Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act.”
REP. HARRIS HOLDS TOWN HALL: In a town hall meeting March 20 at the Grasonville VFW hall, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, discussed federal priorities facing Maryland, including the environment, education, alternative energy, gun control and minimum wage, Kristian Jaime writes in the Easton Star Democrat. The packed room included voters from across the political spectrum all asking for what the Eastern Shore can expect to gain from the current legislative session in Washington, D.C.