Minimum Wage, Estate Tax, Street Sweeping, & Spacey
Minimum wage: WYPR's Christopher Connelly reports that the governor's minimum wage bill is having some trouble in a Senate committee, where Chairman Thomas Middleton insists on higher wages for caregivers of the developmentally disabled.
Estate tax: A bill which would reduce the number of Marylanders required to pay an estate tax is heading to the governor's desk after passage in the state Senate. The 36-10 vote follows similar action by the House of Delegates on a measure which, over five years, would raise the estate tax threshold from $1 million to $5.3 million, the level used by the federal government. Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to sign the bill. More here from MarylandReporter.com.
Mikulski on child care: Sen. Barbara Mikulski is pushing for better child care. Mikulski toured the Milford Mill Child Development Center in Baltimore yesterday, then met with local child care experts, parents and teachers to discuss ways to improve child care in Maryland. A bill reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant was passed in the U.S. Senate last week by a 96-2 margin and Mikulski hopes the House will soon take similar action.
Street sweeping in Baltimore: Baltimore is taking its street sweeping program citywide. Starting April 2nd, mechanical street sweepers will move through every neighborhood. Affected residents will receive postcards notifying them of their sweeping days, or they can check by calling 311 or by visiting Baltimore's "CityView" website. More here from the Baltimore Sun.
State snow removal budgets: Way above average snowfall this winter is responsible for busting many a Maryland budget. State Highway Administration spokesman Dave Buck says Maryland spent around $137 million on snow removal, about three times what was set aside for the task, according to WJZ. Local snowfall budget deficits range from $500,000 in Carroll County to roughly $11 million in Baltimore City.
Campaign donations: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Mark Reutter of the Baltimore Brew talk about campaign contributions from Harbor Point stakeholders to Baltimore's mayor and members of the city council. It's today's edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Jake's Law: The Maryland Senate has unanimously approved tougher penalties for distracted driving. "Jake's Law" is named after five-year-old Jake Owen, who was killed in a 2011 Baltimore Beltway crash caused by a driver on his cell phone. Under the measure, anyone convicted of a cell phone distracted driving crash that results in serious injury or death faces up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Similar legislation passed in the Maryland House and a conference committee must work out the differences in the bills before the General Assembly session ends.
Spacey lobbies lawmakers: Maryland lawmakers will be rubbing elbows with actor Kevin Spacey tonight as they decide the fate of a state film tax credit. Spacey stars in the Netflix drama "House of Cards," which is filmed in Maryland. According to the Baltimore Sun, the Oscar-winning actor will meet with senators and delegates who have been invited by lobbyist Gerard Evans this evening in Annapolis.
Ocean City project: The State Highway Administration is ready to embark on a major effort to keep pedestrians safe in Ocean City. Crews will be tackling a number of projects this spring, including the installation of a new mid-block pedestrian traffic signal at Coastal Highway and 54th and bump-outs along Baltimore Avenue south of 15th Street. Those traffic-control devices narrow the width of the roadway and create a shorter walk across the street for folks on foot.