Maryland General Assembly 2019 | WYPR

Maryland General Assembly 2019

Rachel Baye

A bill increasing Maryland’s minimum wage passed the state Senate along party lines Thursday with enough Democratic votes to override a potential veto by Gov. Larry Hogan. The legislation would gradually raise the wage to $15 an hour by January 2025 for most businesses.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland General Assembly is on the verge of passing a $15 minimum wage. The House of Delegates approved it two weeks ago, and on Wednesday night, the state Senate gave the bill preliminary approval. WYPR's State Politics Reporter Rachel Baye speaks with Nathan Sterner to take a closer look at the proposal.

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Legislation authorizing Johns Hopkins University to establish its own police force progressed in the state Senate on Wednesday.

Rachel Baye

Thousands of teachers, parents and students marched in Annapolis Monday night, seeking more funding for public schools. The march, which was organized by the Maryland State Education Association teachers union, culminated in the largest rally at the State House in recent memory. 

Organizers say 200 buses carried teachers from across the state, as far as Garrett County in Western Maryland, about three hours away. They estimate that there were about 8,500 people filling the streets, many of them wearing red beanies and carrying red cowbells and signs.

Much like last week, the bulk of the action in Annapolis remains on the floors of both chambers where agendas are frequently determined on a day to day basis.

Lawmakers are working to beat the deadline known as cross-over day—March 18 this year--when bills must cross from one house to the other to be guaranteed full consideration. In fact, Senate President Mike Miller has suggested he might schedule two floor sessions a day in order to get bills through.

But that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening in the committees. Legislative leaders have scheduled hearings on bills involving medical marijuana, sports betting, voter registration and abortion, among other issues.

Twenty-four years ago, a judge ordered fundamental changes to the way Baltimore City Public Schools are managed and funded. The ruling, the result of a 1994 lawsuit, led to Maryland’s current public school funding formula.

Then over the next decade, the court issued more opinions, saying that Baltimore students continued to be shortchanged.

On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a motion in Baltimore City Circuit Court to reopen that 1994 lawsuit. In the filing, they accuse Maryland of violating the state constitution by underfunding Baltimore City schools.

Rachel Baye

Anne Rowe was diagnosed in 2001 with Von Willebrand disease. It’s a genetic bleeding disorder, meaning her blood doesn’t clot well. The Prince George’s County resident told the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday afternoon that, fortunately, there is a treatment.

“For us to be treated prophylactically only, it could cost us $288,000 annually with no insurance or medications,” she said.

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The state Senate voted Tuesday to ban the sale of foam food and beverage containers. If the measure passes the House, Maryland would be the first state to pass a statewide ban on the products.

The ban covers expanded polystyrene cups, plates, takeout containers and egg cartons.

Rachel Baye

Legislators in Annapolis will have their first chance to weigh in on recommendations by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — better known as the "Kirwan Commission" — which is studying ways to improve K-12 education in Maryland. A bill reflecting many of those recommendations is to go before a Senate committee Wednesday afternoon.

Much of the action in Annapolis this week moves to the floors of both chambers where agendas are frequently determined on a day to day basis. Lawmakers are working to beat the deadline known as cross-over day--March 18 this year--when bills must cross from one house to the other to be guaranteed full consideration.

In addition, legislative leaders are trying to get some of the more controversial bills, like the minimum wage increase, to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk in time for a potential veto override vote before March 29. That’s the date Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat and Naval Reserve officer, leaves to deploy to Afghanistan.

Rachel Baye

The Maryland House of Delegates voted Friday to gradually increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by January 2025.

The vote came down largely along party lines, with two Baltimore County Democrats opposing the bill.

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The House of Delegates voted Thursday to censure Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, whose district is in Harford County, for her use of the n-word. The Democrat was heard using the slur to describe a district in Prince George’s County during an event at a cigar bar in Annapolis in January.

Rachel Baye

Calls for state Del. Mary Ann Lisanti to resign are growing after it was revealed this week that she used a racial slur to refer to residents of Prince George’s County. The Democrat from Harford County has already been stripped of her leadership position, but the state Legislative Black Caucus and other groups say that’s not enough.

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Republican Governor Larry Hogan has asked the General Assembly to approve a plan to spend nearly $2 billion in additional school construction money statewide over the next four years. 

 

And Baltimore County’s Executive, Democrat Johnny Olszewski, agrees. 

 

Olszewski painted a dire picture before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Wednesday of what might happen without the money.

 

 

Rachel Baye

During government shutdowns like the one that ended last month, federal employees who are considered “essential” and have to report to work without pay are not eligible for federal unemployment benefits. So Maryland lawmakers have devised a way to provide some help during the next shutdown.

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Dozens of gun-rights advocates testified in Annapolis on Monday on a bill that would ban 3-D printed and other homemade guns that lack serial numbers, what are sometimes referred to as “ghost guns” because they are harder to trace.

Maryland’s General Assembly steamed past the halfway point in its 90-day session last week and things are starting to get serious in Annapolis. This week, one committee takes up Maryland’s own version of the Affordable Care Act.

Others will take up bills to tighten some gun control laws and ease others, changes to Maryland’s medical marijuana program, bills to expand voter registration, an effort to get Exelon to help pay for cleaning up when that mess that’s behind the Conowingo Dam comes pouring through the flood gates.

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State lawmakers are set to consider Friday whether Johns Hopkins University should establish its own private police department, an effort that has been met with resistance from university faculty, staff, students, alumni and neighbors.

Rachel Baye

The way Maryland regulates the alcohol, tobacco and petroleum industries is at the center of a political fight between state legislators and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

It’s alcohol week in the Maryland General Assembly, with legislative committees taking up local liquor license bills for jurisdictions throughout the state as well as the bill that has led to early fireworks in this session. It would strip the State Comptroller of regulatory control over alcoholic beverages.

Also on the agenda are bills on workplace harassment, gun control, same day voter registration and a prohibition on smoking marijuana while driving.

Rachel Baye

Audio to be added.

A long-awaited report by the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education — better known as the Kirwan Commission — recommends full-day preschool for all low-income 3 and 4-year-olds, higher academic standards, more training for teachers and raising teacher pay. And it proposes creating an “independent oversight board” to ensure that the new policies, once they are approved, are properly implemented.

The report, released Thursday, recommends rolling out the changes over the next decade.

Rachel Baye

Irma Pretsfelder was born in 1926 in a small village in Germany. She was 11 years old in November 1938, when the synagogue where she went to school was burned, during what is known as Kristallnacht.

“The next morning, policemen came and said to my father, ‘I have to take you into custody,’” she told the state Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon. “‘But why are you taking me? What have I done?’ He said, ‘I have to obey orders. I have to take you to the next town.’”

The battle over school starting and ending dates continues this week in Annapolis as the state Senate is set to vote on a bill allowing local school boards to set their own dates and House of Delegates committees are to hold hearings on similar bills. Also on the agenda in the Maryland General Assembly are bills to reinstate Maryland’s death penalty, squash Governor Larry Hogan’s plan for a new Redskins stadium in Prince George’s County and prohibit local school boards from spending money to arm teachers and more. Here is a partial list of committee hearings and other items of interest in Annapolis for Feb. 11-15.

Rachel Baye

A state House committee is considering a bill gradually raising Maryland’s minimum wage to $15 an hour in the next five years. Local leaders, business owners and labor union representatives came to express their support for the bill.

Rachel Baye

Maryland elected officials are fighting over who should decide academic calendars for public schools.

Gov. Larry Hogan in 2016 signed an executive order requiring schools to start after Labor Day and end by June 15. He is now trying to write that change into the state code, while the Senate gave initial approval on Thursday to a bill reversing Hogan’s order.

Rachel Baye

For a second year, Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed the creation of an inspector general within the state Department of Education to investigate reports of fraud and abuse in public schools.

At a hearing before a Senate committee Wednesday, Democratic committee members questioned whether the move would accomplish anything.

On the docket for this week in the Maryland General Assembly: bills about increasing the number of early voting centers, expanding food stamp eligibility, penalties for online harassment of minors, raising the minimum wage, and more. Here's a partial listing of committee hearings and other items of interest for Feb. 4--8, 2019.

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In the first State of the State address after winning reelection, Gov. Larry Hogan highlighted several of his priorities for the legislative session, including tax cuts and tougher sentences for violent crimes. His agenda was met with both praise and criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to deliver his annual State of the State address on Wednesday, highlighting some of his priorities for the General Assembly’s current legislative session. On Tuesday, Democratic leaders in the legislature announced their major priorities.

Rachel Baye

Now that the federal government has reopened, state lawmakers have turned their attention toward protecting Maryland residents from the economic effects of the next shutdown, and they warn that the next shutdown could be just around the corner.

The state’s Joint Committee on Federal Relations met Monday to consider the various impacts of any federal shutdown — the 35-day one that just passed, or the one that could come when the current federal funding agreement expires in three weeks.

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