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MD Political Round-Up: Gov. Hogan Supports Paid Sick Leave Legislation; Statehouse Changes; and New Mayor in Baltimore

Mon, Dec 12, 2016

Baltimore, Maryland

Gov. Hogan
Last week, Gov. Hogan announced plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming Legislative session to provide “common sense...sick leave benefits.”  Several highlights of the proposal include:

  • Businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to offer paid sick leave totaling at least 40 hours per year, with the ability for employees to roll over a maximum of 40 hours each year.
  • Part-time employees to be covered after a minimum of 30 working hours. If a company already has a general leave policy that meets these minimum requirements, the state will not interfere.
  • State to honor existing collective bargaining agreements with unions. The 50-employee threshold matches current federal standards under the Family Medical Leave Act and Affordable Care Act.
  • Small business with fewer than 50 employees that choose to offer paid sick leave will be eligible for tax relief incentives; will be able to exempt the first $20,000 of their income from taxes.
  • The legislation will provide protection for seasonal industries by exempting workers employed for less than 120 days in a 12-month period.

Statehouse Changes
Del. Will Smith selected to Succeed Jamie Raskin in District 20 Senate Seat

  • Smith will be the county’s first African-American senator. He was elected to the House of Delegates two years ago and was chosen last week to succeed U.S. Rep.-elect Jamie Raskin as the next state senator from Silver Spring/Takoma Park. Smith served as campaign manager for Raskin in 2010.
  • Smith defeated fellow Del. David Moon by a wider than expected 19-8 vote of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee (MCDCC).
  • The MCDCC’s recommendation goes to Gov. Hogan, who has 15 days to make the appointment; which is considered little more than a formality.
  • Once appointed, his resignation from the House will create another legislative vacancy to be filled. The MCDCC committee is to name a replacement as delegate on Jan. 10.
  • While Smith promoted himself as strong progressive, he sought to represent the state’s most liberal legislative district by portraying himself as a legislative insider.

Del. Barbara Robinson picked to replace Catherine Pugh in Senate

  • The Democratic Central Committee for the district voted, 5-2, to recommend Robinson over former City Councilman William "Pete" Welch.
  • Her name will be forwarded to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is obligated to appoint someone nominated by the committee.
  • Assuming Hogan appoints Robinson to the Senate that would create an open delegate seat in the district. The same committee would nominate a person to fill that seat.

Mayor of Baltimore

Catherine Pugh, a former state senator, was sworn in as the 50th Mayor of Baltimore.

  • She succeeds Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who abandoned her re-election bid amid civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, while in the back of a police transport van.
  • In the primary, Pugh defeated a large field, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who resigned after a fraud conviction in 2010.
  • Her inaugural address focused on job creation, crime reduction and investment in education and struggling neighborhoods.
  • Maryland's governor, several former mayors and members of Congress were among those in attendance. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings spoke of how Pugh took to the streets seeking to calm tensions when Baltimore erupted in violence following the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
  • Pugh, a Philadelphia native with six siblings, came to Baltimore in the 1970s to attend Morgan State University, earning both an undergraduate degree and an MBA.
  • The longtime entrepreneur has worked as a banker, business developer, Dean of Strayer Business College, as a journalist and children's author.
  • She served as a member of the Baltimore City Council from 1999 to 2003. Two years later, she was appointed to the House of Delegates in the MD General Assembly, where she served for a year before winning a Senate seat in 2006. Pugh previously ran for Mayor in 2011, losing the Democratic primary to her predecessor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
  • Pugh has said she is already planning various initiatives to ignite investment in the city, create more affordable housing and eliminate thousands of rundown properties.