Mon January 6, 2014
Monday School Delays, Bitter Cold Forecast, Miller Backs Legal Pot, & Other General Assembly Issues
Schools in Frederick and Harford counties are on two-hour delays. Bitter cold is forecast, with temperatures in single digits tonight and mid teens tomorrow. State Senate President Mike Miller backs marijuana legalization. Other issues going before the General Assembly. And more.
Bitter Cold In Store For Central Maryland: Our state is bracing for some of the coldest temperatures it’s seen in 20 years. Temperatures will fall from the mid-40s this morning into the low 30s this afternoon, then plunge into the single digits tonight, and not get above the mid-teens tomorrow. As the temperatures are diving, the winds will be picking up… and the National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Advisory from 6 o’clock tonight through 6 o’clock tomorrow night… with wind chills as low as negative 17 degrees during that period. But more pleasant temperatures WILL be back before the week is over. Highs will be in the 20s on Wednesday, 30s on Thursday, and 40s on Friday. The Baltimore Sun has more here.
O’Malley Backs Emergency Bill On Health Coverage: Governor Martin O'Malley plans to propose an emergency bill aimed at providing health coverage to some state residents retroactively. O'Malley says the measure is needed because some people who went online late last month to enroll through the Maryland healthcare exchange were unsuccessful due to technical problems. The governor could not say just how many people were affected by glitches with the state's website, which like the national Healthcare.gov site, has not worked well at times. O'Malley and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown say they want to fast track the bill through the General Assembly; the Washington Post reports that lawmakers could approve the bill as soon as next week.
Miller Backs Marijuana Legalization: State Senate President Mike Miller says he supports legislation that would legalize the sale of marijuana in his state. But Miller tells the Washington Post that while he favors the "legalization and taxation of marijuana, with restrictions," he doesn't see a bill making it through the General Assembly in a 90-day session which starts on Wednesday. Miller says such a measure would have a good chance for passage in the state Senate, but less of a chance in the House of Delegates. Even if that happens, Miller thinks it’s unlikely to get the governor’s signature; Miller tells the Post he thinks that Governor Martin O'Malley is, quote, "slow on issues like this." The legalization of marijuana also has the backing of Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur, who’s running for the Democratic nomination for governor this year.
Other Issues Before The General Assembly: Marijuana and emergency healthcare legislation are among the many issues that’ll be up for debate in the upcoming General Assembly session. Lawmakers will also debate legislation that would raise Maryland’s minimum wage. They’ll look to tweak – or repeal – the legislation that imposes a stormwater fee on property owners in Baltimore City and nine Maryland counties. They’ll also likely vote on legislation that would expand pre-kindergarten education in Maryland; the three major Democratic gubernatorial candidates have different proposals on how to do that. And lawmakers will try once again to overturn a ruling by Maryland’s highest court that labels pit bulls “inherently dangerous” dogs; the Daily Record notes that there’s support for such legislation in both the State Senate and the House of Delegates, but so far the two chambers have been unable to agree on how to do it. More on these issues – and many others – is here from the Baltimore Sun.
Behind The Dispute Over Campaign Fundraising: WYPR's Karen Hosler and Joel McCord talk about why allies of Attorney General Doug Gansler are challenging Howard County Executive Ken Ulman's ability to raise campaign money during the general assembly session. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Rawlings-Blake To Call For Property Tax Refunds: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to unveil a plan today that would provide about $3-million in property tax assistance for some city homeowners. The money would go to refunds for people who get historic tax credits – but last year saw their tax bills soar, after errors in the credits were discovered. The Baltimore Sun reports that the mayor’s plan would let those taxpayers get refunds to cover the difference between the tax bills they’d expected and the ones that went out last year. To go into effect, the City Council will have to sign off on the plan. Mayor Rawlings-Blake will discuss the details of her proposal this morning at 11, at a press conference at City Hall.
State Senator Forehand Not To Run For Reelection: This will be the last General Assembly session for Montgomery County State Senator Jennie Forehand. The veteran Democrat announced last week that she’s not running for re-election this year. Forehand was elected to the State Senate in 1994; before that, she served in the House of Delegates – where she first took office after the 1978 election. There’s more here from the Washington Post and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Homicide Rate Falls In Baltimore County: Baltimore County officials say the county’s homicide rate last year was the lowest it's been in decades. County Police Chief James Johnson says the last time numbers were this low was the 1970s. The 2013 numbers were revealed last week. Johnson says two major factors for the decrease are a population increase and detectives solving more and more homicides.