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Maryland General Assembly Will Debate Minimum Wage, Marijuana Laws

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The Maryland General Assembly convened today in Annapolis for its annual 90-day session, and this year's gathering is expected to be particularly eventful.

Both branches of the General Assembly are likely to pass some sort of minimum wage hike, following in the footsteps of the councils in the state's two most populous counties: Montgomery and Prince George's. How much the rate will go up is in question, and it's not likely to be as high as the $11.50 in the year 2017 the two counties approved locally.

The proposal with the most support right now would make the minimum wage $10.10 per hour in Maryland. O'Malley says raising the minimum wage will keep a focus on "rewarding hard work and expanding opportunity."

Republicans, like Senate GOP leader David Brinkley of Frederick County, argue that it's better for the state to let the federal government raise the minimum wage.

"When you look at western Maryland and the Eastern Shore... until West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and other states have a corresponding minimum wage, you put Maryland employers at a disadvantage," Brinkley says.

On the issue of marijuana, support is gaining to legalize it in Maryland along the lines of what has been done in Colorado. But even legalization's most ardent supporters believe lawmakers will not want to touch such a controversial issue in an election year, so this session could be all about setting up the issue for next year.

Beyond the headlining issues, there will be plenty of politics and posturing in the statehouse. Two delegates are running for governor, while two others are serving as running mates for different campaigns and four members of the General Assembly are running for attorney general. Their work in this session will no doubt be used in their campaigns to court voters.

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