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O'Malley Touches On Minimum Wage, Health Care In State Of The State

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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley delivers his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. The term-limited governor used his final address to urge lawmakers to raise the state's minimum wage.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley delivers his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature in Annapolis, Md., Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. The term-limited governor used his final address to urge lawmakers to raise the state's minimum wage.

Maryland governor Martin O'Malley's final State of the State speech reflected on the past and looked to the future.

Much of the address to a joint meeting of the General Assembly focused on O'Malley's first seven years in office, but it wasn't all a victory lap for the governor.

He does want lawmakers during this session to raise the state's minimum wage, which has already occurred in the state's two largest counties, Montgomery and Prince George's.

"Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 is going to create more and better customers for Maryland businesses," O'Malley said. "And that is why raising the minimum wage is not only good for the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who will see a boost in their paycheck. It is good for every Marylander because it is good for our entire economy."

But even some fellow Democrats think the rate O'Malley is proposing is too high and have already signaled any minimum wage hike that could be approved would have to be lower.

O'Malley also talked about a sweeping gun-control measure the General Assembly approved last year and the state's repeal of the death penalty as notable successes. He also underscored Maryland's passage of same-sex marriage rights and a version of the Dream Act.

But the governor also discussed problems with the state's health care exchange, which has been troubled by computer issues.

"Being accountable also means acknowledging when we have fallen short. The health care website failed to perform as designed when it was launched," he said. "A source of great frustration, especially for those Marylanders who were looking forward to obtaining health care for the very first time in their lives."

Politically, the exchange problems have dogged the man O'Malley endorsed to succeed him in office even more: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. The two Democrats who are running against Brown were happy O'Malley noted the website problems in his speech.

"I think he acknowledged that there's been a problem (because) it's hard not to," said Attorney General Doug Gansler. "We're behind Mississippi and other states in terms of our abilities to sign people up under the Affordable Care Act."

Montgomery County delegate Heather Mizeur weighed in as well.

"Acknowledging the problems are the first order of business," she said. "And rededicating ourselves to the task at hand...which is covering the uninsured not covering up our mistakes."

O'Malley says the state is continuing to fix issues with the site to it can meet sign-up targets by the March 31st deadline.
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