$15 Minimum Wage Bill Heading to Governor Hogan

The General Assembly has passed its own final version of the "Fight for Fifteen" Minimum Wage Bill With Veto-Proof Support Levels On Wednesday, March 20, both the House and Senate passed their respective versions of the $15 minimum wage bill, thus sending the "enrolled" bill to the Governor. Under the Constitution, he has a limited window of time (six days, not including Sundays) to decide whether to veto the bill, and would have to do…

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A Legislative “Veto” On Counties’ Transportation Priorities?

The Senate has approved a new requirement in the process for counties identifying priority MDOT projects - support of the county's legislative delegation. In the Senate amendments to the broad Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act, HB 1407, new language was added  and approved by the Senate to change the requirements for identifying a local priority project. Under the proposed language, when a county submits a "local priority letter" to the Department of Transportation, identifying a…

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Governor Hogan: Costly Kirwan Bill Lacks Accountability

At a press event today, Governor Hogan criticized legislation pending before the General Assembly to support initial phases of the Kirwan Commission. In his comments, he expressed doubt that he would follow through with budget amendments necessary to provide funding in the coming fiscal year, citing a lack of meaningful oversight over those funds. From the Baltimore Sun coverage: “It is outrageous pandering to special interest groups,” Hogan said. “Paying for these proposals would require…

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Federal Judge: Special Education Rule Shouldn’t Be Held Up

A federal judge rejected arguments from the US Department of Education and ordered that an Obama-era Special Education law be re-enabled. U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled last week that the US Department of Education acted illegally, in an "arbitrary and capricious" manner when effecting a delay of new rules regarding disparities in special education services. From the Education Dive website: The rule was drafted under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA),…

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ACLU Revives State Education Lawsuit

The ACLU of Maryland leads a coalition to sue the State of Maryland over inadequate school funding in Baltimore. A years-old court case challenging the adequacy of state education funding has been revived. The Bradford vs. Maryland State Board of Education litigation played a significant role leading up to the state's passage of the Thornton Commission legislation in 2000, the last major overhaul of state school funding formulas. From an ACLU press release: The request…

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The Kirwan “Blueprint” Bill Introduced, Fast-tracked

A 29-page bill implementing many education recommendations of the Kirwan Commission has been introduced, and fast-tracked for a Wednesday hearing. SB 1030 / HB 1413 are the late-filed bills to implement many components of the Kirwan Commission (Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education). The bills were introduced on Monday, and through procedural motions on the floor of each chamber, they were advanced to their Committees directly (rather than being sent to the Rules Committee,…

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What Might Be On “Chopping Block” If Revenues Sink?

Legislative Analysts have revealed a preliminary list of potential budget-balancers if the March revenue adjustments bring bad news. The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) presented a set of "Additional Reduction Recommendations" to the House Appropriations Committee on February 26, detailing a range of possible accommodations that may be required to absorb a meaningful write-down in revenues in early March. Many of the recommended items would require legislation, suggesting that a "reconciliation bill" might be needed…

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$15 Minimum Wage, Slowed and Amended, Moves to House Floor

A House Committee has given preliminary approval to an amended version of the $15 minimum wage proposal. HB 166, proposing to phase-in a $15 minmum wage across Maryland, has gotten its first stamp of approval. The House Economic Matters Committee voted 17-7 to pass an amended version of the bill, and send that report to the floor of the House of Delegates for a full vote. The bill is likely to come up whit week…

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Opportunity Zones – Big Tool, Big Questions?

Federal tax reforms from late 2017 created an "Opportunity Zone" program - will these incentives be the key to revitalizing underdeveloped areas? The recent creation of federal Opportunity Zones called for selection of targeted census tracts for development incentives. As Maryland and other states have implemented their selection, the process of refining the processes for engaging new employers and activity within their bounds. See the map of currently approved Opportunity Zones. See Conduit Street coverage…

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Sun Editorial: Big School Funding Challenges, Counties Are “Tapped Out”

The Baltimore Sun editorial board lays out a comprehensive look at the current school funding dilemma -- advocates thirst for large new investments, but resources are strained already, even before the lofty goals from Kirwan Commission. With the Kirwan Commission report now in circulation, legislation pending, and onlookers still awaiting details... school funding remains a hot topic, albeit one temporarily on hold. Enter the Baltimore Sun, with a well-timed look at the political dynamics underlying…

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