The first full week of the Maryland General Assembly session opens Monday — after the swearing in of a new state Senate and House of Delegates and the revelation that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller is fighting prostate cancer in the session’s first days.
This week, Gov. Larry Hogan will release his budget proposal and celebrate his second inauguration, while legislators begin a push for what might end up being the hottest issue of the session: raising the state’s hourly minimum wage.
Here are five things to watch:
Is this the session of the minimum wage increase?
On Monday, advocates will announce a much-anticipated bill to raise the state’s hourly minimum wage to $15. A news conference is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Baltimore Democrat Cory McCray is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, while Prince George’s County Democrat Diana Fennell will sponsor the House legislation.
The bill would raise the wage to $15 by 2023, a move advocates say would benefit nearly a quarter of the state’s workforce.
Miller has pledged that a wage increase will pass this year — in some form — but he hasn’t provided more details about what shape he wants to see the legislation take.
Trying to stop the next mass shooting
The House of Delegates’ Judiciary Committee will get a briefing Tuesday on the implementation of Maryland’s “red flag” legislation, which became law in the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that killed 17 people in February.
Maryland’s law enables law enforcement officials, certain family members, intimate partners and mental health providers, among others, to request an “Extreme Risk Protective Orders” to temporarily take guns from people who pose an immediate danger of causing personal injury.
Maryland’s judiciary fielded 114 requests to remove firearms from individuals in October, the first month the law went into effect.
No party like an inaugural party
Hogan will take the oath of office Wednesday for a second four-year term.
For just the second Republican governor re-elected in Maryland history, Hogan’s festivities start at 9 a.m. on the north lawn of the State House in Annapolis. Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford will be sworn in at noon.
The governor will hold a public reception at the State House at 1:30 p.m, according to his office.
The Maryland National Guard’s Army Band, the Cardinal Shehan School Choir from Baltimore, the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts Chamber Choir from Hagerstown, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Chamber Choir and the Naval Academy Glee Club are among the groups performing at the inauguration.
All of the events in Annapolis are free.
The governor will celebrate at 8 p.m. with a $150-a-ticket gala at MGM National Harbor casino in Prince George’s County.
Hogan, a Prince George’s native, held his first inaugural gala in 2015 in Baltimore.
Reforming Baltimore’s police
As Mayor Catherine Pugh seeks to bring a new police commissioner to Baltimore, the House of Delegates’ Judiciary Committee will be briefed on the status of the city’s consent decree.
The city of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to sweeping reforms aimed at restoring community trust in officers, and ensuring that they work within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.
The decree orders more supervision of officers, and increased training on de-escalation tactics and interactions with youths, people with mental illnesses and protesters. It also creates a special citizen task force to find ways to enhance civilian oversight of the department, among other changes.
Hogan’s budget and education funding
Just days after he’s sworn in for a second term, Hogan will release his multibillion-dollar budget proposal for the state — and many expect education funding to be a subject of heated debate.
A blue-ribbon commission is seeking a $3.8 billion, phased-in annual increase for public schools, while Hogan and legislative leaders are suggesting that price tag should be scaled back.
Nevertheless, the state is expected to provide hundreds of millions more for schools this year, while the commission takes another year to recommend how much the state — versus local jurisdictions — should have to contribute.