Kirwan “Blueprint” Bill Amended, Moving in Senate

The vast "Blueprint" bill implementing initial steps toward the Kirwan Commission recommendations is moving in the Senate, after being amended significantly. The Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs has unanimously passed an amended version of the highly-anticipated "Blueprint for Maryland's Future" legislation. The bill includes two years of funding provisions to support initial recommendations of the Kirwan Commission (Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education), and establishes policy guidance for the longer term…

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$15 Minimum Wage Passed as Veto Overridden

Maryland will phase toward a $15 minimum wage, after the General Assembly voted to override the Governor's veto. From coverage in The Hill: Maryland will become the sixth state to implement a $15 minimum wage after its Democratic-controlled legislature overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto Thursday. The current minimum wage in Maryland is $10.10. Under the new law, it will reach $15 an hour by 2025 through a series of staggered increases, the Associated Press…

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Kirwan Member Op-Ed: Most Special Ed Kids “Mis-Labeled”

A longtime special education advocate criticizes public school treatment of, and services for, struggling learners. Kalman "Buzzy" Hettleman, an outspoken member of Maryland's Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (the Kirwan Commission) has filed an opinion letter in the Baltimore Sun, suggesting that some two thirds of students in MD public schools classified as "special education" students have been miscast in that role. From his letter: In Maryland as many as 65,000 public school…

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$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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