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Legislative Session Begins January 14th

Following a tumultuous election season which saw a reshuffling of the makeup of the state legislature and Governor’s mansion, union leaders are anticipating a challenging legislative session—especially for public school teachers and staff, as well as state employees—set to begin today, January 14th.

While Governor-elect Larry Hogan has been mum on specific legislation he wishes to pass and budget decisions he plans to make, most foresee possible cuts to education in key jurisdictions like Baltimore City, as well as a loosening of the restrictions placed on charter school management, as key legislative battles looming in Annapolis over the next 90 days.

Minimum Wage Bill Stalled

The bill that would increase Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour has been stalled in the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Thomas Middleton (D-Charles), chair of that committee says that he will not move on the minimum wage proposal until an agreement to raise the wages of workers who care for the developmentally disabled has been reached. Middleton wants to raise the hourly wage for workers who care for the developmentally disabled to a level that is higher than the proposed minimum wage increase.

Snow Causes Delay in Maryland Legislative Process

The nine-inch snow storm that hit the city of Annapolis Monday, March 17th, delayed the schedule to which legislators are expected to adhere. Monday, March 17th, officially was “Crossover Day,” the last day when bills passed in the House or Senate can be sent to the corresponding subcommittee in the opposite chamber for consideration. Bills that fail to “crossover” are sent to the Rules Committee for review and a decision. Generally, legislation sent to the Rules Committee is considered more difficult to get passed.

Bills Address Student Testing, Teacher Evaluations

A series of bills before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee could, if passed, delay the use of the new student achievement test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

AFT-Maryland Affiliates Oppose Pension Cuts

AFT-Maryland affiliates traveled to Annapolis, Maryland February 24th to meet with state legislators and voice opposition to Governor O’Malley’s proposed cuts to the state’s contribution to state employee pension plan.

The governor has proposed that the state’s promised $300 million per year contribution to state worker pension plans be cut by $100 million. AFT-Maryland affiliates have argued that the cuts jeopardize the financial standing of the state and could result in reduced payments for retired state workers.

Bills introduced to cut funding to higher ed institutions that have members who are in organizations the have authorized a boycott of Israel.

A number of academic professional organizations have authorized a boycott of Israel-- including the American Studies Association and the Modern Language Association (which is the professional organization for English professors, as well as Language faculty). The argument is that the State of Israel has severely restricted the movement and communication abilities of a number of Palestinian academics, a violation of each organizations principles of academic freedom.

Key Bills in Annapolis

The Washington Post has an article this morning on the status of key bills introduced in the past month in Annapolis. What has passed, what has not passed, and what is still pending in the legislature.

Read more at The Washington Post.

2/14/14 Todd Reynolds, Political Action Coordinator

Delegate race for district 12 heats up.

Candidates for delegate in district 12-- a district that covers Baltimore County and Howard County-- are raising a large amount of money, showing how competitive that race may be. All 3 current delegates from district 12 are retiring, so that leaves the current race very much in the air. Michael Gisriel, a Democrat with major corporate backers, holds a lead in fundraising, but he may have double-reported some of those donations.

Brown testifies in favor of Pre-K expansion; criticizes Gansler for not going far enough.

The governor's plan to add $4.3 million to the pre-k program had a hearing in Annapolis yesterday, and Anthony Brown testified how this plan does much more than Doug Gansler's proposal to expand pre-k. Gansler's plan is more gradual, and would only offer all-day pre-k to low-income families. As I think Phil has detailed to us, O'Malley's plan would make pre-k expansion available to folks making upwards of 300% of the poverty level.