Fri May 30, 2014
“Ban The Box” Signed Into Law, Baltimore’s Curfew, A Profile Of Larry Hogan, & Bike To Work Day
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has signed into law the so-called “ban the box” bill, requiring most city employers not to ask most job applicants about their criminal histories until extending a conditional job offer.
Plus: a profile of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan, Baltimore’s curfew, Uber’s appeal of a PSC ruling, and Bike To Work Day for the Baltimore region.
“Ban The Box” Now Law In Baltimore: A bill that forbids most Baltimore businesses from asking job applicants about their criminal histories until after the interview process is now law. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake put her signature on the so-called “ban the box bill” Thursday afternoon. The new law requires that private employers with ten or more employees extend conditional job offers to potential employees before asking about their criminal records. It won’t require businesses to hire people with criminal records, but will make it possible for those people to get interviews. Mayor Rawlings Blake says the measure will ultimately help ex-offenders find jobs. Questions about the criminal histories of job applicants would still be allowed for certain jobs – such as childcare – where certain convictions would forbid the candidate from being hired. WJZ has more.
Region’s Unemployment Rate Falls In April: The Baltimore region’s unemployment rate dropped in April, according to numbers from the US Labor Department. As the Baltimore Business Journal reports, the Metro Area’s jobless rate was 5.5% in April… down from 6% the month before. The April unemployment rate also represents a year over year decrease of a full percentage point; last April, the jobless rate was 6.5%.
Baltimore Curfew Reform: The City Council is poised to grant final approval to a bill that would overhaul Baltimore’s curfew when it meets on Monday of next week. It would require kids under the ages of 14 to be inside by 9pm year round, with later times for older kids. It would also create a daytime curfew between 7:30am and 3pm, with exceptions for kids traveling to or from school. The bill won preliminary approval on a vote of 11 to 2, and Mayor Rawlings-Blake says she’ll sign it if it reaches her desk. But yesterday, the ACLU of Maryland renewed its call for the Council to vote the bill down. The Baltimore Sun reports that the ACLU – and several other groups – have put out an alternative proposal that calls for more social programs for the city’s youth.
A Profile Of Larry Hogan: Anne Arundel County businessman Larry Hogan was the last Republican gubernatorial candidate to throw his hat into the ring, yet he leads in fund raising and the polls. WYPR’s Christopher Connelly has this profile.
O’Malley To Visit Iowa, Nebraska, & New Hampshire: Governor Martin O'Malley is headed to Iowa next month, another important state in the presidential nominating process. O'Malley is set to deliver the keynote address at the Iowa Democratic Party's state convention on June 21st in Des Moines. Iowa holds the nation's first presidential caucus… and the governor is considering a 2016 White House bid. O’Malley is also planning to speak at Democratic party functions in New Hampshire and Nebraska in the coming weeks. The Washington Post has more here, and there’s more here in the Baltimore Sun.
3 AG Candidates Reject Gansler Proposal To Close State Prosecutor’s Office: Three of the candidates looking to be Maryland’s next Attorney General are opposing a call from outgoing Attorney General Doug Gansler that the state prosecutor’s office be shut down, to save money. At a forum at Towson University last night, attorney Jeffrey Pritzker (a Republican), and State Senator Brian Frosh and Delegate Jon Cardin (both Democrats) say they do not support Gansler’s call to eliminate the state prosecutor’s office. A third Democrat in the race, Delegate Aisha Braveboy, did not attend last night’s forum. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Homeless School Funding: Although it’s far from being a large item in Baltimore City School’s just-passed budget, the money for the district’s unit for homeless students is vital. It could mean the difference between a student being in class or on the street. In this report, WYPR's Gwendolyn Glenn talks to the unit’s director about its funding and its partners.
Slate Campaign Fund Unites Kamenetz And Developers: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Alison Knezevich of the Baltimore Sun talk about contributions from developers--and from Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz--to a campaign fund that can be used to benefit members of a particular candidate "slate." It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Uber Appeals PSC Ruling: The state’s Public Service Commission says that ridesharing services like Uber should have to follow the same rules as traditional taxi operators. But that ruling hasn’t gone into effect yet, and the Baltimore Sun reports the PSC has granted Uber's request to file a 60-page appeal, which is considerably longer than most appeals. Uber recently expanded into Annapolis, but the company is threatening to pull out of Maryland if the PSC's proposal to regulate the ride-for-hire businesses is upheld.
Frederick County Property Tax Rate Drops: Property tax rates are going down in Frederick County. Yesterday, the County Commissioners cut the property tax rate by four tenths of a cent for each $100 of assessed value. The Frederick News Post reports that the move will end up reducing projected County revenues by about $1-million in the coming fiscal year. But it also means that property tax revenues won’t change much year over year – because of rising assessed values, property owners in Frederick County will end up paying about the same in the coming year as they’ve paid this year.
Bike To Work Day: Today is Bike to Work Day in Baltimore – and in Towson, Annapolis, and many other places in Central Maryland. Bike to Work day was originally scheduled for May 16th – and that’s when it happened around the nation -- but amid torrential rains here, the regional organizer – the Baltimore Metropolitan Council – opted to wait a couple weeks. Organizers say riding bicycles is good for your health and helps reduce traffic congestion and pollution. Motorists are reminded to share the roads with bicyclists – today, and every day
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles lost last night’s game against the Houston Astros; the score 3 to 1. The two teams play again tonight.