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General Assembly

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State elected officials are proposing competing tactics to keep Maryland’s public schools safe from a possible gunman.

Speaking with reporters after Thursday's floor session, Senate President Mike Miller said he met with senators that morning about creating a "comprehensive" package of bills aimed at protecting schools. He promised at least four bills, including some boosting school social workers and placing armed security guards at schools.

Rachel Baye

State lawmakers on Thursday announced a series of education grants and programs aimed at increased support for low-income students, career and technical education and improved teaching.

The legislation is the result of preliminary recommendations by a state commission chaired by former University System of Maryland Chancellor William “Brit” Kirwan, and is the first part of what could be wide-reaching changes to Maryland’s public schools.

Rachel Baye

When Marylanders voted to legalize casinos 10 years ago, it was with the promise that the state’s share of the revenues would bolster school funding. Instead, that money replaced some state money going to schools, freeing up those general fund dollars for other purposes.

Gov. Larry Hogan wants to put those state gambling tax revenues into a “lockbox” to ensure that the money goes to schools and doesn’t supplant other state dollars, he announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Rachel Baye

Female inmates at the state prison in Jessup, Maryland — the state’s only women’s prison — say getting feminine hygiene products, like pads and tampons, while they’re incarcerated can be challenging, sometimes even impossible.

Rachel Baye

The state Senate gave initial approval on Wednesday to a bill delaying a new law that requires businesses to offer paid sick leave. The legislation pushes the law’s start date from Feb. 11 to July 1.

Businesses were originally supposed to begin offering sick leave this past January, about nine months after the law passed. But just after the 2017 legislative session ended, Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the bill, and last month, the legislature overrode the veto.

Baltimore City Health Department

Some state legislators who represent Baltimore in Annapolis are trying to increase state funding for programs designed to prevent gun violence before it happens.  The officials compared gun violence to a contagious disease at a press conference announcing the legislation Monday in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood.

Rachel Baye

Maryland Democrats are introducing a ban on bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas shooting in October that enables a semi-automatic gun to fire continuously without repeatedly pulling the trigger, they announced Thursday.


Rachel Baye

 

In the last State of the State Address of his four-year term, Gov. Larry Hogan called for rising above political discord.

“Instead of becoming more like Washington, let’s send a message to Washington by putting the politics aside and coming together for all Marylanders," he said during Wednesday's speech.

But almost everything about the way the speech was received was partisan, down to the applause, which came almost exclusively from Republicans.

Rachel Baye

Maryland residents are expected to save nearly $3 billion on their federal income taxes in 2018 as a result of the new federal tax law, according to a report state Comptroller Peter Franchot released Thursday. But residents will likely lose at least $400 million in state and local income taxes, unless lawmakers act to prevent it.

Franchot’s office estimates that between a quarter and a third of state taxpayers could pay more state and local income taxes.

Rachel Baye

Maryland state income tax bills could grow by more than $400 million under the new federal tax law, according to an analysis Comptroller Peter Franchot released Thursday.

According to the report, between a quarter and a third of Maryland taxpayers could pay more state and local income taxes.

statecenter.org

 

A state-commissioned study released Tuesday offers a list of new, alternative uses for State Center in Midtown Baltimore.

The state office complex has been slated for redevelopment for more than a decade. Community members told a state panel Tuesday afternoon that starting over with new plans disregards what they want for their neighborhoods.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan is again pushing for Maryland to change how it draws legislative districts.

For the third consecutive year, Hogan is introducing a bill that creates what he says would be a nonpartisan commission to draw the districts, he announced Thursday

For the last two years, Hogan’s redistricting bill has died in committee. Democrats say they don’t want Maryland to give up Democratic seats in Congress without other states giving up Republican seats.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed $17.7 billion operating budget for next fiscal year, released Wednesday, cuts funding for several Democratic priorities.

Rachel Baye

Because of the way Maryland’s tax laws are written, recent changes in federal tax law could lead to sharp increases in state taxpayers’ bills. The governor and leaders of the state legislature all say they plan to look for a way to cushion that blow, and the Democrats in the legislature revealed at a press conference Tuesday how they plan to do that.

Rachel Baye

Two bills Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed last year are set to become law in 30 days after the state Senate voted Friday to override the vetoes. One bill requires businesses with 15 or more employees to give them paid sick leave, and the other eliminates questions about criminal history from college applications.

Rachel Baye

After more than five years of debate in the General Assembly, a bill requiring Maryland businesses to offer paid leave to their employees is one vote away from becoming law after the House of Delegates voted Thursday to override the governor’s veto on the bill.

The bill applies to businesses with at least 15 employees.

On the floor during Thursday’s debate, several Republican women said the bill forces domestic violence victims to reveal private information when they take a day off.

But several Democrats said that’s an inaccurate interpretation of the legislation.

Rachel Baye

The opening day of the General Assembly session is always filled with platitudes about bipartisanship and displays of camaraderie. Along these lines, Gov. Larry Hogan urged cooperation in his opening remarks to legislators on Wednesday, the first day of the 2018 legislative session.

Rachel Baye

To mark the start of the General Assembly session Wednesday, the state Legislative Black Caucus announced plans to push for bail reform, money for historically black colleges and universities, and the development of State Center in Baltimore. And the powerful group took a firm stand on medical marijuana.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing term limits for the 188 members of the General Assembly. At a news conference Tuesday, he said his bill would limit each legislator to two consecutive terms, or eight years, in each chamber.

Hogan described term limits as a way for the voting public to hold elected officials accountable. He blamed the lack of term limits and the rise of career politicians for a litany of woes, including pending corruption charges against Sen. Nathaniel Oaks.

Rachel Baye

As lawmakers prepare to return to Annapolis Wednesday for the start of the General Assembly’s annual 90-day session, they are gearing up for fights on topics such as taxes, health insurance and Baltimore’s record-level of violence.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan announced his support Friday for a bill that would allow a woman who gets pregnant after being sexually assaulted or raped to strip her attacker of parental rights. The leaders of both the House of Delegates and the state Senate are co-sponsoring the legislation.

Rachel Baye

  

The leaders of the General Assembly voted Tuesday to update the body’s sexual harassment policy for both elected officials and staff in light of complaints lodged in other statehouses around the country.

The new policy requires an annual report that will reveal the number of harassment reports made each year. For each allegation of sexual harassment, the Department of Legislative Services’ Human Resources Manager will have to identify the type of harassment and how it was handled. The report won’t contain any names.

Maryland Health Connection

If Congress repeals or stops enforcing the individual mandate and Maryland doesn’t change anything about the way its insurance market works, state residents will feel the effects quickly, health care experts warned a state commission Tuesday.

“If we don’t act next year, it’s very likely we won’t have an individual market in 2019 in Maryland,” said Deb Rivkin, Vice President of Government Affairs for Maryland at Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurer.

Rachel Baye

Thirty-seven-year-old Tara Herbert entered a classroom at the Little Flowers Early Childhood and Development Center in West Baltimore, where she’s a teacher.

Five 1 year olds sat around a small table while a movie played nearby. Another teacher was spoon feeding one of the toddlers.

Rachel Baye

When Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill requiring businesses to offer paid leave in May, he also signed an executive order creating a commission to study the issue and recommend a revised paid leave law.

Now the state Democratic Party is accusing the commission of keeping its meetings secret, violating state law and preventing the public from weighing in. On Thursday, party Chair Kathleen Matthews filed a complaint with the Maryland Open Meeting Compliance Board about the commission’s lack of publicized meeting dates and agendas.

Rachel Baye

Maryland’s government won’t contract with any company that boycotts Israeli products or services over Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The change is the result of a new executive order Gov. Larry Hogan signed Monday opposing the BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — movement.

Chris Connelly / WYPR

A new state law that took effect this week makes major changes to criminal justice policies. The law is intended to save the state money by reducing prison populations, then invest the savings in crime prevention efforts.

But one provision in the new law that is designed to send offenders to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction may not work as planned.

Rachel Baye

By Monday, the State Board of Education must submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education outlining how Maryland’s schools will abide by the Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to No Child Left Behind. The federal law governs how states monitor schools’ performance.

Maryland’s plan will be submitted without Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature.

Chris Connelly / WYPR

The state Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee convened a meeting Tuesday to examine record levels of violence in Baltimore — what’s causing it and how it can be stopped. WYPR's Rachel Baye spoke with Nathan Sterner about the discussion and the conclusions drawn.

Rachel Baye

The state Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to cut more than $60 million from the state’s $43 billion budget. However, the body did not touch $6 million slated for local school systems that was initially on the chopping block.

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