Carroll County schools open 2 hours late. In other news: Governor Martin O’Malley says more about a possible presidential campaign, the push to raise MD’s minimum wage, another gubernatorial candidate signs on to public financing while lawmakers push to expand the system, longshoremen prepare for contract vote.
Weather News: Carroll County schools are opening two hours late today; following yesterday’s winter storm that dropped more than half a foot of snow in parts of the listening area. More winter weather's likely tonight -- with Freezing Rain Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings set to take effect at 7pm.
O’Malley Eyes White House: Governor Martin O'Malley is inching closer to a possible run for the White House. O'Malley tells the Washington Post that if he is going to seek the Democratic party's nomination in 2016, he can't wait for Hillary Clinton to decide if she's running. Clinton – a former Secretary of State and US Senator – hasn’t announced whether she’ll enter the presidential race, but polls show she’d significant support if she does; O'Malley endorsed Clinton in her 2008 presidential bid. O’Malley says he's been meeting with foreign and domestic policy makers to flesh out his thinking about "a better way forward for our country." The governor has declined to say when he’ll decide whether to enter the presidential race.
Calls For Higher MD Minimum Wage: Advocates for raising the minimum wage rallied yesterday in Baltimore. WYPR’s Christopher Connelly reports that the rally drew workers, religious leaders, and activists… as well as politicians. One of those politicians: Governor Martin O’Malley; he’s backing a plan that would raise the minimum wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by the year 2016, and then tie the rate to inflation for future increases. It would also make it so that tipped workers – like waiters – get 70 percent of the minimum wage, rather than the current 50 percent. The plan to boost Maryland’s minimum is being opposed by many Republicans, who say a higher rate would make the state less competitive. Lawmakers in Annapolis will examine legislation to raise Maryland’s minimum wage next week. There's more here from the Baltimore Sun.
Hogan Takes Public Financing: GOP gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan will be the first Republican to take part in Maryland’s public financing system since 1994. Hogan made that announcement yesterday, when he filed his candidacy paperwork with the state board of elections in Annapolis. Under public financing rules, Hogan and his running mate – Boyd Rutherford – will only be allowed to spend about $2.6-million in the primary race… and will have to raise it in increments of 250 or less from individual donors. But after his campaign raises about 260-thousand dollars in such donations, he’ll be eligible for matching funds. Under public financing rules, candidates are not allowed to take money from political action committees, or PACs. Also in the running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination are Harford County Executive David Craig, Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George, and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Washington Post. Hogan is the second gubernatorial hopeful to enter into Maryland’s public financing system this year – the first was Democratic Delegate Heather Mizeur. The system is only available to candidates running for governor… but some lawmakers in the General Assembly want to expand it. Later this week, Delegate Jon Cardin says he’ll testify before the House Ways and Means Committee on a plan to create a public funding option for General assembly candidates. Cardin says that public financing makes politicians more accountable to the voters, and reduces the power of well-financed special interests. That hearing is set for Thursday.
Longshoremen’s Union To Vote On Contract Proposal: A contract proposed for a Baltimore Longshoremen's union is set to go to secret ballot next week. The group representing employers at the Port of Baltimore says the contract represents their “best and final offer”. The union says the proposal doesn’t deal with important issues, such as the assignment of jobs and the rules for disciplinary action… and the union’s leadership is urging longshoremen to vote against the contract. A vote will be taken on February 11th to decide if Local 333 accepts or rejects the offer. Back in October, a breakdown in contract talks led to a strike that shut down port operations for three days – that strike only ended when a federal arbitrator imposed a 90-day cooling-off period. The Baltimore Sun reports that it’s unclear whether another strike would follow a down vote on the contract.
Councilmembers Back Larger AA Police Force: The Anne Arundel County police force could soon be a larger one. County Councilman Derek Fink tells the Baltimore Sun that he plans to introduce a resolution at next week’s Council meeting that would call on the County Executive to increase the department’s size by 10 percent over the next two years. Doing so would cost the county a little more than %5.5-million a year in salaries and benefits. The resolution is being backed by County Police Chief Kevin Davis, and has three of the four votes it needs to pass – but even if it’s approved, it’s nonbinding, and would require the County Executive to get behind the idea in order for any change to occur.
Baltimore County Unemployment Rate Falls: Baltimore County's unemployment rate is below six-percent for the first time since 2008. County officials say the jobless rate for December was five-point-nine-percent. The Maryland unemployment rate for December was six-point-one-percent, while the national rate was six-point-seven-percent.