By Adam Bednar
The debate over whether to raise Maryland’s minimum wage will be the top issue before the General Assembly in the coming session that begins Wednesday in Annapolis.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, entering his last year in office, has already expressed support for raising the state’s $7.25 minimum wage. But proposals to raise the wage as high as $11.50 an hour may have trouble gaining the support of legislators who represent less urban areas of the state.
"Such a big increase in the minimum wage hike will decrease jobs," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. told Fox 45 News.
Bills trying to adjust the storm water remediation fee, also known as the "rain tax," and decriminalizing recreational marijuana use could also be given some attention during the 90-day session. But legislators are expecting a slower session than the previous year, which saw lawmakers approve a death penalty repeal and strict new gun control laws.
The expected lack of major new, possibly controversial, legislation is due in part to the coming primary and general elections, this session, in particular because of the condensed calendar. Primary elections, which were previously held in September, will be on June 24 this year, just about two months from the end of the session.
"I think it's going to be more challenging," House Speaker Michael Busch told WBAL Radio. "A lot of delegates will be running for office, and they will be splitting their time."
Carroll County's Delegates held a public hearing Monday to discuss county-specific legislation they intend to pursue this session. Topping the list is a a Gaming Bill that would allow charities to host casino-type fundraising events.