Fri March 7, 2014
The Minimum Wage, MD’s Revenue Projections, Cove Point, Stormwater Fees, & The Time Change
A look at legislation moving through the General Assembly, on topics including the minimum wage, MD’s stormwater fees, domestic violence, the regulation of Lyft and Uber, and pesticide fee. Plus: MD’s revenue projections, Cove Point, and Sunday’s switch to Daylight Saving Time.
Minimum Wage Legislation: Governor Martin O’Malley met with small business owners yesterday at Linemark, a printing company in Upper Marlboro. He was there to tout his plan to raise the state’s minimum wage. WYPR’s Christopher Connelly sat down with the governor afterward to talk about the minimum wage. The House of Delegates will give its final vote on the measure later today. There’s more about the legislation and the history of the minimum wage here, from Maryland Morning.
MD Revenue Projections Drop: State Comptroller Peter Franchot says that Maryland will bring in less revenue than had previously been expected. Franchot – who also chairs Maryland’s Board of Revenue Estimates -- says that poor economic performance in the fourth quarter of 2013 means that the state’s likely to see about $238-million less in revenue than earlier projections had indicated during the current and coming fiscal years. The Washington Post reports that the General Assembly will now have to cut more than $125-million in planned spending from the current budget, and decrease next year’s budget by a little more than $110-million. The Annapolis Capital says cuts could come to proposed and current education programs, as well as the Chesapeake Bay’s Trust fund. State employees could also see reductions in merit increases or cost of living adjustments.
Cove Point Plant Stirs Statewide Angst: The Liquefied Natural Gas terminal at Cove Point in Calvert County has lain almost dormant for years. Now, Virginia-based Dominion Power has applied for permits to build facilities to export, rather than import, gas. WYPR’s Joel McCord reports THAT has caused a stir statewide.
Still Not Over: How Miller Might Tweak Stormwater Law WYPR's Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about Senate President Mike Miller's desire to adjust the stormwater law through language in the budget bill, and why this is a good example of how lawmaking works in Annapolis. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Domestic Violence Legislation: The House of Delegates has approved legislation that would offer victims of domestic violence stronger protections. The Baltimore Sun reports that the bills make it easier for victims to get protective orders from courts, expand the circumstances in which these protective orders can be issued, and increase the penalty for people convicted of domestic violence in the presence of children. Similar legislation has already passed the State Senate.
Pesticide Fee Legislation: Buying pesticides in Maryland is likely to get more expensive. The House of Delegates and the State Senate yesterday approved separate bills that would raise fees on pesticides sold in our state; proceeds would go to pay for studies of the use of the chemicals. The Baltimore Sun notes that environmentalists have been advocating for such a measure. For the legislation to go the governor’s desk, either the House will have to pass the Senate version or vice versa.
Legislation On Regulation Of Lyft And Uber: Ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber are urging lawmakers to stop to state’s Public Service Commission from regulating their drivers as it currently does for taxi cabs. The two companies have smartphone apps that let potential passengers find rides. But Lyft and Uber do not directly hire drivers themselves… and say they shouldn’t be regulated like cab and limosine business, which are under the PSC’s oversight. The Daily Record reports that bills that have been filed in both chambers of the General assembly would exempt the companies from regulation.
JHU Data Breach: There’s been another data breach at a major Maryland University. The target this time: Johns Hopkins. JHU officials say they don’t think the goal of the breach was identity theft; instead, they say the hacker group Anonymous was trying to extort the school to gain greater access to the servers but was denied. Information including names and contacts, but not Social Security or credit numbers, was taken from up to 13-hundred current and former JHU biomedical engineering students. The data breach at Hopkins follows last month’s sophisticated cyber attack on the University of Maryland’s servers, which exposed the personal data of more than 300-thousand people. The Baltimore Sun has more.
BWI Fire Chief Fired: BWI-Marshall Airport's first black fire chief is being fired following complaints about the department's lack of diversity. Gregory Lawrence was named acting chief last November, but was terminated Wednesday after it turned out that every new recruit hired in the department's most recent class is white. Airport officials have since hired the department's first Hispanic fire chief, Victor Ferreira Jr., who is a former fire official from Prince George's County. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Daylight Saving Time Soon To Start: It’s time to “Spring Ahead” – Maryland and much of the nation switches to Daylight Saving Time early Sunday morning, so you should set your clocks ahead an hour before you go to sleep Saturday night. The change means we’ll get an extra hour of sunlight in the evening. Fire officials always encourage folks to take the occasion of the time change to check the batteries in your smoke detectors.