Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin took to the steps of the US Capitol yesterday to call on Congress to reopen the federal government. House Speaker Michael Busch is set to endorse Lt. Governor Anthony Brown’s gubernatorial bid. Plus: minimum wage proposals, Baltimore’s tax collection troubles, and more.
Federal Government Shutdown: Maryland’s two US Senators stood on the steps of the US Capitol Building yesterday, where they called on their fellow lawmakers to reopen the federal government – which has been in partial shutdown mode since Tuesday of last week. Senator Barbara Mikulski noted that Maryland is home to 20 major federal agencies. Thousands of the people who work at them have been furloughed. Senator Ben Cardin joined Mikulski in calling on Congress to get those workers back on the job. As Mikulski put it: "…let’s get America rolling. We want to reopen government and get America going."
Busch To Endorse Brown: Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown is set to get another high-profile endorsement today – that of House Speaker Michael Busch. The Washington Post reports that Busch rarely issues endorsements in Democratic primaries, but he’s going to make an exception for Brown – who he mentored during his time in the House of Delegates. Brown served as House Majority Whip before becoming Lieutenant Governor. The Baltimore Sun notes that Brown’s already picked up endorsements from Busch’s counterpart in the State Senate – Senate President Mike Miller – as well as Governor Martin O’Malley and more than half of Maryland’s elected Democratic lawmakers. Brown is set to face state Attorney General Doug Gansler and Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur in next year’s primary.
Minimum Wage Proposals: Maryland’s minimum wage looks like it’ll be a major topic of debate in next year’s General Assembly session. Governor O’Malley has joined the call to raise it from its current $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour. The proposal also has the support of the three Democrats running to succeed him in the state’s top job. Now there’s an effort underway to raise the minimum wage in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia before this year is over. The Washington Post reports that officials in the three jurisdictions have announced a joint effort to increase their minimum wage to $11.50 an hour. The plan would phase in the new rate by the year 2016, and tie it to inflation after that.
Frederick’s Budget Shortfall: The City of Frederick is facing a nearly $2.3-million shortfall… but it looks like the city will not need to cut services or purchases in order to make it up. City officials told Frederick’s Board of Aldermen yesterday that they can fill the gap with nearly $2-million from the city’s Capital Improvement Program fund. The Frederick News Post reports that the remainder of the shortfall can be made up by accounting for more than $200-thousand in grant money that’s come in this year, and recognizing more than $100-thousand that the city’s Department of Public Works has saved on purchases and bids.
Whiplash Week For City Taxpayers: For more than a decade, some Baltimoreans have been receiving tax bills that are either too large or too small. Now, city officials are figure out how to fix things. WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith comments, in his weekly essay.
Rawlings-Blake Encourages Obamacare Enrollment: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is urging people without health insurance to shop for a plan under the Affordable Care Act’s online exchanges. People can compare health plans and sign up at marylandhealthconnection.gov. There’s more here from WJZ.
MTA Targets Smartphone Thieves: The Maryland Transit Administration is taking steps to prevent thefts involving electronic devices. MTA Police are teaming up with city police and federal air marshals today and tomorrow for what they are calling a targeted enforcement effort. During the two-day initiative, teams of officers will ride buses and monitor bus stops in areas where there have been an increase in thefts.
Rabid Raccoon In Anne Arundel: A raccoon in Anne Arundel County has tested positive for the rabies virus… and county health officials are now looking for anyone who may have come in contact with the animal. The rabid raccoon was found on Monday at Fort Smallwood Park in Pasadena. The Baltimore Sun reports that Anne Arundel has seen 34 confirmed cases of rabies in animals this year, most of them in raccoons and bats.
Senator Theater Reopens: Baltimore's Senator Theater is coming back to life today. The historic movie house has been closed since April of 2012, and reopens as a four-screen movie theater following a renovation that cost over $3-million. Around half of the cost of renovations was covered by public grants and loans. The Baltimore Sun reports that public officials, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, will be on hand as the theater reopens with a sold out screening of the movie Hairspray.