Tue February 18, 2014
Snow-Related Schedule Changes, Obama’s MD Visit, The Minimum Wage, & A New CEO For City Schools
A look at this morning’s snow-related schedule changes, and what the snow’s done to the region’s roads and budgets. Plus: President Obama comes to MD today, to announce fuel efficiency standards. Also: MD’s minimum wage, a new CEO for city schools, and more...
Yet another winter storm blew through Central Maryland last night, dropping up to 2 inches of fresh snow in some places. But since the snow’s essentially over, the National Weather Service has canceled the Winter Weather Advisory that was in place; even so, officials are urging motorists to take extra caution on the roads.
And many schools are opening late -- or closing.
One-Hour Delay: Wicomico County schools.
Two-Hour Delay: Anne Arundel County schools, Baltimore County schools,Carroll County schools, Cecil County schools, Harford County schools, Howard County schools, Kent County schools, Montgomery County schools, Prince George’s County schools, and Washington County schools.
Winter Weather Leads To Potholes: The snow on the roads isn’t the hazard facing Maryland drivers – another danger is potholes. Baltimore City officials say crews have filled over one-thousand potholes so far this year. That's double the number they usually fill. Pothole filling efforts are underway in many other jurisdictions. In Annapolis, Department of Public Works officials say that they’ve been out filling potholes “almost every day” this year. The fixes that are being made are only temporary – as permanent pothole repairs are time-consuming and require significant expense and labor.
Frederick County Over Budget For Snow Removal: This snow-heavy winter has put Frederick County under significant financial stress. The county has more than used up its snow removal budget for the year; officials say they’re counting on a half-million dollar contingency fund to pay for continued snow removal. But Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young says the county will continue to do what it takes to keep the roads clear. Young says that when the money in the contingency fund runs out, the county will search for funds elsewhere in the budget.
Obama Comes To MD: President Barack Obama is coming to Maryland today – his fourth visit to the Free State in less than a month. He’ll appear this morning at the Safeway Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro. At the event, the President is expected to order new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for trucks – a directive aimed at building on standards his administration issued in 2011. Obama is expected to argue that the upgrades will save companies money over the lifetime of their vehicles.
Cummings Backs O’Malley’s Minimum Wage Proposal: 7th District Congressman Elijah Cummings is joining the call to increase Maryland’s minimum wage. Cummings is backing a bill proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley that would up the rate from its current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, and then index it to inflation for future increases. Speaking before a State Senate committee yesterday, Representative Cummings noted that people who earn the current minimum wage often rely on public assistance, and said that governments are “subsidizing employers who pay only the minimum.” Opponents of a higher rate say the change would cost the state thousands of jobs, and make Maryland businesses less competitive.
Opinion Poll Results On Minimum Wage, Marijuana: A new opinion poll shows that a majority of Marylanders are in favor or raising the state’s minimum wage; the Opinionworks poll, conducted for the Baltimore Sun, indicates that 69 percent of likely voters are in favor of Governor O’Malley’s proposal. The Sun says that a majority of people surveyed from every region of the state. Increasing the minimum wage also has the near-unanimous backing of African Americans surveyed. That poll also shows that a majority of Maryland voters are in favor of changing marijuana laws – with 58 percent either supporting legalizing the drug or decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of it. The poll has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
Paid Sick Leave: In Annapolis today, lawmakers in the House Economic Matters committee will consider a bill that would guarantee Maryland workers access to paid sick leave. WYPR’s Christopher Connelly reports the bill has wide support.
City Schools To Get New CEO: The Baltimore City School System is getting a new leader. The Baltimore Sun reports that the city school board will announce today that they’ve chosen Gregory Thornton to be the new CEO. Thornton is currently the schools superintendent in Milwaukee, a position he’s held since 2010. As new city schools CEO, Thornton would face several dilemmas including a new curriculum to increase classroom achievements as well as renovation of the system's basic framework.
Hybrid AA School Board Legislation Dies: A bill to create a partially-elected Anne Arundel County school board has died in the State Senate. The Baltimore Sun reports that the county's state senators voted 3-2 to kill the measure yesterday. It would have created a school board with five elected members and four appointed members. A similar measure is still alive in the House of Delegates.
Henson To Run For State Senate Seat: A former political consultant convicted of playing a role in the election robocall case of a few years ago is running for the General Assembly. Julius Henson says he will file as a Democrat for the East Baltimore state Senate seat held by Nathaniel McFadden. Henson served 30 days in jail after he was found guilty of conspiracy, for his role in a series of robocalls made on election day in 2010; calls that that authorities said were aimed at keeping black voters from the polls. The Washington Post has more here.
Hot Pocket Recall: Giant grocery stores are recalling several Hot Pockets products. They include nine-ounce and 54-ounce Philly Steak and Cheese and nine-ounce Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese products with "best used before" dates starting with March 2014. Although no one has become ill eating the products so far, they were not properly inspected and should be either thrown away or returned to the store. WJZ has more.