Greenhouse gases bill gains in Senate
Legislation setting ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gases in Maryland cleared a hurdle in the Maryland Senate yesterday. Senators gave preliminary approval to the measure, which calls for a 25 percent reduction in climate-warming pollution by 2020. A final vote is planned early next week. Republicans tried to insert a guarantee that pollution-reduction efforts wouldn't increase consumer electricity bills but were unsuccessful. Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, the Democratic sponsor, argued that electricity rates have gone up for unrelated reasons and that the bill would promote conservation, thereby lowering bills.
Richardson assails call for scrutiny
Yesterday, the president of Morgan State University criticized a bill calling for additional accountability and funding of Maryland's historically black colleges because of "insulting" recommendations that the Northeast Baltimore campus receive more state scrutiny. Earl S. Richardson was a member of the 27-member commission that crafted a sweeping blueprint for the state's higher-education policy, including spending about $760 million more to improve the quality and affordability of Maryland's colleges. But the recommendations also put particular emphasis on addressing low graduation rates at the state's four historically black campuses and prioritizing undergraduate programs. Richardson asked House lawmakers to cut out some portions of the bill calling for more planning and accountability from black campuses. "There is no justifiable need to legislate a process to provide funding ... or to obtain measures of performance," Richardson said in his written testimony.
Part-time jobless pay gets support
Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to extend unemployment benefits to part-time workers gained preliminary approval in the Maryland Senate yesterday. The Democratic governor and other backers contend that the bill would modernize the unemployment insurance system to meet the needs of a growing part-time work force of more than 420,000 people and would help make the state eligible for additional federal funding through the recently enacted economic stimulus package. Restaurants and other small businesses oppose the state legislation, saying it would force employers to pay higher payroll taxes. An amendment that would have made fewer part-time workers eligible failed on a tie vote.