Thu March 20, 2014
Minimum Wage, City Budget, Bay Bridge Crash Report, And Top Downtowns
Morning headlines from around the region.
Minimum wage: Maryland Sen. Thomas "Mac" Middleton says he is holding up the governor's minimum wage proposal until the administration agrees to raise the pay of caregivers for the developmentally disabled. The Baltimore Sun reports that Gov. O'Malley's wage bill would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but Middleton wants to see even higher wages for state-paid workers who work with the disabled at homes and group homes.
City budget: A two-percent pay raise for Baltimore City workers, and slashed property taxes are two items in a budget proposal Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is sending to the City Council. The Baltimore Sun reports the $2.5 billion spending plan includes $26 million in new capital improvements. Also, there are no cuts in city services for the first time in six years. The budget is for the fiscal year that begins in July. More here from WYPR's Kenneth Burns.
Bay Bridge crash: The Maryland Transportation Authority says the NTSB's report on last summer's Bay Bridge crash that sent a car into the water "underscores the immense responsibility" of drivers crossing the twin spans. The Baltimore Sun reports that in its final report, the NTSB attributed the cause of the crash to an inattentive truck driver and his unfamiliarity with traffic congestion on the bridge. A Southern Maryland woman was forced to swim for her life when a tractor trailer slammed into her car last July, knocking the vehicle over a barrier and into the bay below. More here from the Washington Post.
Free semester: The University of Baltimore is giving students a chance to attend their final semester of classes for free. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the school announced that tuition will be waived for students who are able to finish their four-year degrees on time. The "Finish4Free" deal starts for freshmen entering the U of B this fall.
Health insurance exchange: WYPR's Fraser Smith says that the news about the state's online insurance marketplace is not all bad. He comments in his weekly essay.
Speed cameras: The Maryland Senate has approved speed camera reform legislation. The bill eliminates the so-called "bounty system" in which camera companies are paid a portion of each fine. The Baltimore Sun reports that the proposed law also redefines school zones in which cameras can be operated and makes changes to the appeals process for motorists hit with a ticket. The House of Delegates approved similar legislation and now both chambers must work out their differences before the bill is sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley for his signature.
Officer charged: A veteran Baltimore City police officer is suspended without pay after he was arrested in Howard County on charges of sexual abuse and sexual solicitation of a minor. Forty-four-year-old Officer Charles Hagee is accused of contacting a 14-year-old girl advertising prostitution online in Columbia. Investigators believe the two exchanged text messages before meeting at Hagee's home and engaging in sexual activity on three occasions between January and May of last year. More here from WBAL.
Worker falls, dies: A man is dead after falling 180 feet from a water tower where he was working in Pasadena. Anne Arundel County police say the 21-year-old who has not been identified was on the job yesterday in the 3700 block of Mountain Road at the time of the incident. According to the Capital Gazette, the Maryland Office of Safety and Health and Maryland State Police are trying to determine why the man fell.
Ricin at Georgetown: The discovery of ricin on the Georgetown University campus is being confirmed. Campus police made that announcement yesterday, one day after a suspicious powder was found in a student's room at McCarthy Hall and a suspect was questioned. The Washington Post reports that the university said that there is no immediate threat to the community and that law enforcement does not believe that the case is not connected to terrorism.
Farmer's Market: Spring arrives today and that means Baltimore's Farmers' Market will soon be reopening. The market returns for its 37th year on April 6th, opening at 7 a.m. New for this year, qualified vendors will be accepting credit, debit and SNAP payments directly.
Top downtowns: Old Town Alexandria and Frederick, Maryland are among the top ten downtowns in America, according to a new list. Livability.com ranks Alexandria fifth due in part to what they describe as a "modern, hip vibe." Frederick comes in sixth and is described as a "magnet for East Coast artists."