A Winter Storm Warning, MD’s Minimum Wage, Mizeur’s Gubernatorial Bid, and Baltimore Policing
Governor Martin O’Malley has declared a State of Emergency as a winter storm bears down on Maryland; the system could dump 6 to 10 inches of snow and sleet on the state before Thursday night. More on the storm, plus: the minimum wage, Baltimore policing, a longshoremen’s union rejects a contract proposal, and more.
Snow Forecast Wednesday Night And Thursday: The WYPR listening area could be seeing its biggest snowfall in four years tonight and tomorrow. A Winter Storm Warning goes into effect at 8pm and will remain in effect until 8 o’clock tomorrow night. Snow’s expected to before 10pm, and fall heavy at times after midnight. Between 2 and 4 inches could accumulate before dawn tomorrow. More snow tomorrow morning… mixing with sleet tomorrow afternoon. Another 4 to 6 inches could fall tomorrow, before the storm tapers off late in the afternoon. In total, we can expect 6 to 10 inches of snow, with even more in higher elevations. This winter storm will be accompanied by powerful winds… gusting up to 25 mph tonight, and up to 30 mph tomorrow. Between the snow and the winds, power outages are likely. Baltimore Gas and Electric says it’s has begun to gather storm and field personnel and coordinate with out-of-state mutual assistance crews. BGE is setting up several large, remote staging sites across the service area to provide a base for crews and vehicles. BGE says customers should call 877-778-2222 to report downed lines and power outages. Governor Martin O’Malley has declared a state of emergency as the storm approaches. That declaration allows the state to deploy National Guard members for "emergency contracting" and it also waives certain rules and regulations for a speedy storm recovery.
Snow Days At MD Schools: School officials around the region are preparing for the possibility of another snow day tomorrow. Of course, schools don't have an unlimited number of snow days built into the academic year, and many systems have already used up all of theirs. WJZ reports that, since schools are required to be open for 180 days each academic year, officials are expecting to extend their sessions in June, tacking on additional class days after the originally scheduled last day.
Minimum Wage Bills Get First Hearing In Annapolis: Most bill hearings in Annapolis don’t draw an overflow crowd. But yesterday’s hearing on proposals to raise Maryland’s minimum wage certainly did. WYPR’s Christopher Connelly was there and filed this report. There’s more here from the Washington Post, more here from the Baltimore Sun, and more here from the Frederick News Post.
How The Underdog Plans To Win Her Party's Nomination: Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur is considered a David between two Goliaths in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. But Mizeur says she’s in it to win it. WYPR’s John Lee reports on her game plan to pull off an upset.
Rivals Compete For Prince Georges Votes: WYPR's Fraser Smith and John Wagner of the Washington Post talk about Attorney General Doug Gansler's comments about Prince Georges County when he opened a campaign office there, and why all three Democrats in the race for governor need PG votes. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Longshoremen’s Union Rejects Contract: Members of a Baltimore longshoremen’s union have again rejected the contract proposed by the group that represents employers at the Port of Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun reports that votes against the deal came from about three quarters of the members of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333. The national union had urged local union members to vote the deal down. The group representing the port’s employers had called the contract its “best and final offer.” There are currently no threats of a lockout or strike – as happened for three days back in October.
Baltimore Policing: Baltimore Police have identified new “enforcement zones” – where officers will engage in “aggressive policing” in an effort to cut down on violent crime. City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts announced yesterday that there will now be 17 tightly drawn enforcement zones. They’ll be relatively small – perhaps a mile to a mile and a half square. Commissioner Batts is declining to identify the borders of the zones, telling the Baltimore Sun “criminals read the newspaper.” A programming note: Commissioner Batts will talk about crime reduction strategies in Baltimore today at noon, on Midday with Dan Rodricks.
Bill Would Mandate Lie Detector Tests For New Correctional Officers: Lawmakers in Annapolis will consider a bill that would require all new correctional officers to pass polygraph tests. The measure was proposed by Delegate Michael Hough; he tells the Frederick News Post that he hopes administering lie-detector tests will weed out unsuitable candidates and prevent corruption in Maryland jails. The proposal follows last year’s scandal at the Baltimore City Detention Center, in which guards were charged with smuggling drugs and cell phones to inmates. Delegate Hough served on a legislative committee that was formed to examine the smuggling ring, and that committee recommended the use of polygraph tests for screening applicants, to check for gang affiliations. Governor Martin O’Malley has put nearly $350-thousand in the budget to form a polygraph unit to test applicants. Delegate Hough wants to make testing a legal requirement, so future budgets would also place a priority on it.
Bill Would Ban Energy Drink Sales To Minors: Lawmakers in Annapolis will consider legislation that would ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. The measure defines such drinks as those containing 71 milligrams or more of caffeine in a 12-ounce container along with other ingredients likes taurine and guarana. Bills banning their sale to minors have been filed in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate; if approved, violators of the ban would face a fine of 500-dollars for a first offense. And retailers or others who give minors discounted energy drink coupons or free samples would face a fine of 20-thousand dollars. The Washington Post reports that the ban would not prevent adults from buying energy drinks.
Ruppersberger Opposes Bill Affecting NSA: 2nd District Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is blasting a proposal to shut off water and power to the National Security Agency. A bill doing so has been proposed by eight Republicans in the House of Delegates; the measure would prevent public utilities from providing water and electricity to the NSA headquarters, as well as ban the use of NSA evidence in courts and forbid University of Maryland schools from working with the NSA on research projects. Congressman Ruppersberger – who represents the area where the NSA is headquartered – calls the bill “unnecessarily punitive and ill-informed.” And the Annapolis Capital reports that the measure’s unlikely to go far in the House, as no Democrats in the chamber have cosponsored it. There's more here from the Baltimore Sun.
MD Tops The Nation For AP Exams: For the eighth year in a row, Maryland is leading the nation in performance on Advanced Placement exams. The College Board says 29-point-six-percent of Maryland seniors earned a qualifying score on one or more of the exams in 2013, which is up from 28-point-one-percent the year before. Connecticut ranked second on the exams, followed by Virginia. The Baltimore Sun has more.