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Maryland Lawmakers Crunch On Critical Bills Before Adjournment

"House of Cards" is likely to receive the tax credits it demanded from Maryland, and lawmakers will back down from an amendment that would let the state play hard ball with the show.
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"House of Cards" is likely to receive the tax credits it demanded from Maryland, and lawmakers will back down from an amendment that would let the state play hard ball with the show.

Several headlining issues remain before lawmakers in Maryland as the yearly session of the General Assembly winds down. Two of those issues got closer to being decided today, while another was delayed again.

The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to a compromise bill raising the state's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by the year 2018. The vote came after exhaustive debate, in which senators tried to attach amendments to the bill. Seventeen in all were rejected. Most were from Republicans like GOP Senate leader David Brinkley of Frederick County, who feels the raise in the wage will hurt businesses.

"Maryland employers who you've heard come down through here say 'Look, no one guarantees me a wage. Or guarantees me a certain profit threshold.'"

The Senate is scheduled to take a final vote during a rare Saturday session tomorrow, allowing the bill to go the House on Monday, the day lawmakers adjourn for the year.

Meanwhile in the House today, delegates delayed taking a final vote on a bill calling for a task force to study decriminalizing marijuana until tomorrow. It gives delegates wishing to change the bill back to the Senate version—which outright decriminalizes possessing small amounts of the drug—another day to seek additional votes. Democrat Keiffer Mitchell of Baltimore proposed the amendment that would do that today, and he believes his side has enough votes.

"We're just looking to have a debate on decriminalization," Mitchell says. "Like I said on the floor, I don't think a task force is [needed] to study decriminalization for two years while we just keep kicking the can down the road."

Lastly, the producers of hit Netflix show "House of Cards" are likely to receive what they asked for: an increase in tax credits they get for filming in the state. A House committee is poised to advance a bill that would do that, while lawmakers will remove an amendment from the state budget allowing Maryland to seize the production facilities for the show if producers decide to leave.

The maker of that amendment, Montgomery County delegate Bill Frick, admits there is little he can do now outside of playing a game of "chicken" with the state budget over the matter—something Frick says he won't do.

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