Thanksgiving Schedule Changes, MD’s Online Health Insurance Exchange, and The Minimum Wage
Thanksgiving schedule changes – around Maryland, and on WYPR. Plus: Governor O’Malley says the biggest problems with MD’s online health exchange will be fixed by mid-December. Prince George’s County lawmakers vote to raise the minimum wage. Tonight’s Ravens game. And more.
Thanksgiving Schedule Changes: Pretty much every public institution in Maryland is closed today, as the nation celebrates Thanksgiving. Schools, courts, banks and libraries are closed -- so are federal, state, and local government offices. There's no regular mail delivery from the Post office. And all trash pick-up services are on hold; Baltimore residents get a makeup trash pickup day on Saturday. There aren't any MARC trains or commuter buses today, and holiday schedules are in effect for the Light Rail, Metro Subway, and regular MTA buses. And there's no need to feed the meters today -- Thanksgiving is a parking meter holiday. The Baltimore Sun has more here; there’s more here from MTA, and information about Baltimore City trash pickup is here.
Thanksgiving Schedule Changes – On WYPR: A programming note… WYPR has several great holiday specials in store; you can find out more about them here.
MD’s Online Health Insurance Exchange: Governor Martin O’Malley held a press conference yesterday to defend the poor performance of Maryland’s bid to sell health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The governor told reporters that a variety of grave problems have undermined the program’s website since its October 1 debut. O’Malley says he hopes the biggest problems with the state’s health exchange– the Maryland Health Connection – will be fixed by the middle of December. But the governor said it wouldn’t have sense to delay the rollout, despite forewarnings of likely problems; he told WYPR’s Karen Hosler: “If we had not gone on October 1, we would not have made the progress we have made since then to figure out where these glitches and to be able to fix the connections.” Slightly more than 3-thousand Marylanders been able to apply for private insurance through the exchange since its rollout. State officials say they still hope it will enroll a total of 150-thousand by the end of March. More here from the Washington Post and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Minimum Wage Hike Moves Forward In PG: Lawmakers in Prince George’s County have voted to raise their jurisdiction’s minimum wage. The County Council voted 7 to 0 yesterday to increase the rate from its current $7.25 an hour to $11.50 an hour… phasing in the change over the next four years. The plan duplicates legislation passed earlier this week in Montgomery County; a similar bill is set for a vote next week in Washington DC. The Prince George’s County legislation could be vetoed by County Executive Rushern Baker, whose aides tells the Washington Post that he’d prefer the issue to be handled by the General Assembly. But the bill’s chief sponsor notes that there are enough votes on the Council to override a veto. Meanwhile, the statewide minimum wage is likely to be an issue in next year’s General Assembly session.
“Taxi Tax” To Be Passed On To Riders: Many taxi trips in Baltimore are going to cost 25 cents more per person next week, now that the state’s Public Service Commission has signed off on a plan that will let taxi companies pass on a new city tax to their riders. The PSC has the power to set rules for how taxi operators charge riders… and it’s agreed to let them pass on the city’s new so-called “taxi tax” directly to those riders. The Baltimore Sun notes that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration had originally said that the tax was supposed to be paid by service providers, not customers.
And in sports: the Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight at M&T Bank Stadium. The teams are both 5 and 6 for the season, and are in a six-way tie for the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. If history’s a predictor, tonight’s game could be close; nine of the previous eleven encounters between the Ravens and the Steelers have been decided by three points.