County Councilmember and Germantown resident Craig Rice on Tuesday officially took over as president of the nine-member governing body for the last year of its four-year term.
Rice, who represents the Upcounty area, is a former state delegate who won his first Council term in 2010. He served as Council vice president during the last year and took over the role from Councilmember Nancy Navarro.
The council president position is typically doled out to a new councilmember each year, during which he or she gets to set the agenda and serve as the public face of the Council.
Rice said one of his major priorities is emphasizing how important jobs of all types are to Montgomery County:
Now it is the end of 2013 and the opportunity to build upon the great work of my colleagues as we shepherd our County into an evolving era. An era in which jobs are paramount and opportunity is for the taking for ALL of our residents. It is that opportunity to follow their own career path that will be the cornerstone of our success because we are a diverse County, with diverse needs. We need automotive technicians and construction workers just as much as we need bio-tech scientists and engineers. Our quilt is a patchwork of all kinds of backgrounds and skill sets. We need to have the jobs to support those myriads of careers. And to provide those jobs means we need to have a strong economic base.
So let me be clear, and I want Virginia to hear me: Jobs are important to Montgomery County. And we know the No. 1 contributor of those jobs is our small business sector. Yet there is so much more we can do to support our small businesses, especially those that are located here in Montgomery County.
This past Saturday, we celebrated Shop Small or Small Business Saturday, where the nation dedicated a day to patronizing our small businesses. Shouldn’t Montgomery County Government do the same? We need to do a better job with County procurement in supporting our locally owned businesses. We need to show our businesses due deference by prioritizing doing business with them, as we all stand to benefit as a result.
Rice played a crucial role in last week’s Council vote to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, a move business groups vocally opposed. Rice, who originally hoped to delay the bill until the state legislature acted in 2014, switched sides late in the debate in favor of the $11.50 per hour bill.
That decision allowed bill supporters the room they needed to get it passed by a final 8-1 vote.
Councilmember George Leventhal (D-At large) criticized Rice in the Council session for changing his mind, eliciting a defensive response from Rice. It wasn’t the first time the two went head-to-head during a Council session. Earlier this year, Rice and Leventhal battled over a proposed zoning change study in Aspen Hill that could allow for a Wal-Mart.
Leventhal will serve as Rice’s Council vice president and, as is tradition, nominated Rice on Tuesday. The two have led the Council’s charge for more permanent supportive housing for the homeless.
Rice is also expected to play a big role in the Montgomery County Delegation’s hopes of securing more school construction funding in Annapolis.
Photo via Montgomery County Council
After nearly four hours of debate — during which personal rifts between councilmembers were on full display — the Montgomery County Council agreed to raise the minimum wage in the county to $11.50 an hour by 2017, one year later than proposed by the lead sponsors of the bill.
County Executive Isiah Leggett: “I look forward to signing this measure into law.”
The Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, other chambers and business groups around Montgomery County are lobbying against a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $11.50 per hour.
The bill, from Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large), has at least three supporters for a total of four votes on the nine-person Council. To pass the bill needs five votes, a critical number ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled full Council vote.
The bill is part of a regional effort in Montgomery, Prince George’s and D.C. for an $11.50 per hour minimum wage tied to the consumer price index, the measure for cost of living.
In an email to members on Friday, the B-CC Chamber urged its members to contact the five other councilmembers (see this detailed summary of where everyone stands at political blog Maryland Juice) and tell them to cap any minimum wage hike to $10.10 per hour with no indexing:
For the past several weeks, the B-CC Chamber has been working with other chambers and business groups in Montgomery County to persuade Council members to delay consideration of Council member Elrich’s bill that would set the minimum wage in Montgomery County at $11.50 an hour that would be phased in over three years, beginning in July 2014 and indexed to increase with the consumer price index in future years. Based on a survey of businesses in the county, this increase is too much too fast and the indexing could result in a county minimum wage that is far higher than the state’s, unless the state legislature also passes a minimum wage tied to indexing. Yesterday, the County Council HHS Committee voted (2-0) in favor of Elrich’s bill, this despite the fact that the proponents’ own economists told them that $11.50 is too high. They did amend the bill to exempt teens age 18 and under working fewer than 20 hours per week and set the minimum wage for tipped employees at 50% of the County minimum wage. This bill will go to the full Council for a vote this Tuesday. IT WILL PASS – possibly unanimously — unless the business community is able to persuade some Council members to make some changes that would make it less burdensome for employers.
David Moon over at Maryland Juice, a proponent of a minimum wage hike and House of Delegates candidate in Takoma Park, paints the picture a little bit differently:
In recent weeks, a battle has been brewing among government officials in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia over efforts to pass minimum wage increases at the local level. Councilmembers in all three jurisdictions are poised to move a “regional minimum wage” of $11.50/hour that is indexed to the consumer price index (aka a minimum wage that increases as the cost of living rises). Note that a person working 40 hours week and who takes no vacations would make $23,920/year under the proposed $11.50/hour rate — keeping them just above the $20,000 poverty line. Given the record high wealth inequality we’ve witnessed over the past few decades, this hardly seems like a radical proposal.
But efforts are afoot to weaken the bills in a way that threatens to derail the tenuous arrangement between a coalition of Councilmembers in MoCo, Prince George’s & DC, who have all agreed to move an $11.50/hour minimum wage. While compromising on the effect amount of the wage increase would normally seem like fair game, in this instance, Prince George’s lawmakers have a ready majority for $11.50 an hour but are waiting for Montgomery to act before pulling the trigger. A failure to pass the same rate increase will throw all sorts of unpredictability in the process and threaten to derail a historic economic justice pact between governments in the ever-expensive DC Metro region.
Also to be hashed out on Tuesday is if a county minimum wage bill would exempt tipped employees for teenagers 18 and younger and what the phase-in period would be the raise.
A few on the Council, including Bethesda’s Roger Berliner, have said they’d prefer to wait and see what the state legislature does with the issue in 2014. Gov. Martin O’Malley has backed a push to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 per hour.
The minimum wage now is the federally-mandated $7.25 per hour.
Phil Andrews is widely viewed as the third candidate in the race for Montgomery County Executive, in which the lion’s share of the attention will go to the battle between incumbent Isiah Leggett and his predecessor, Doug Duncan.
But Andrews, the four-term councilmember from Gaithersburg, seems to relish the role.
On Tuesday, at the annual fall meeting of the Bradley Boulevard Citizens Association, Andrews spoke about lonely votes against Leggett-negotiated pay increases and his pledge not to take campaign contributions from special interest groups.
“The County Council is reluctant to reject labor agreements unless they are obviously unsustainable, like during the Recession,” Andrews said, referring to his vote earlier this year against the Leggett-negotiated pay raise for county employees. “We’ve gotten back into the same habit. The Council doesn’t want to be the bad guy.”
The Council voted 8-1 to approve the 13.5 to 19.5 percent pay raise over the next two years. Andrews, who says the raise was too large, cast the lone vote against it.
“I think employees are better off if you have these more modest, sustainable pay raises,” Andrews said. “Not these ups and downs, where when a recession hits, those pay raises are cancelled.”
Andrews also was the lone vote against a Council-approved pay raise for the next Council. Leggett came out against the 28 percent raise over four years after the vote and didn’t sign the measure. He said he didn’t veto it because it’s likely the Council would have overriden the veto.
Andrews attacked Leggett’s energy tax and spoke about his efforts to reduce the tax by 10 percent in each of the last two years.
The message of capping government pay increases and fiscal responsibility seemed to resonate with the Citizens Association. Andrews says it’s resonating with many who live behind the 15,000 doors he’s knocked throughout the county. His goal is to hit 30,000 doors before the June 24 primary.
But one association member wasn’t so sure his individual stands were a good indicator.
“You’re always on the losing end,” the association member said. “How can you lead?”
Andrews talked about his successful efforts — including against costly abuses of the county’s police pension program and the reduction of the energy tax — but admitted standing alone on issues of taxes and pay and benefits is not the easiest route to take.
“When you have to fight the county executive and your colleagues at the same time, you have to do it incrementally,” Andrews said. “It’s not easy, but you’ve go tot make the effort and you will surprise yourself often by the results.”
Councilmember Roger Berliner says he doesn’t think the county should go it alone when it comes to raising the minimum wage, especially with a movement to raise the state’s minimum wage planned for the 2014 General Assembly.
Berliner asked County Executive Isiah Leggett for his opinion on Councilmember Marc Elrich’s regional minimum wage bill that would raise the county’s minimum wage from the federally-mandated $7.25 per hour to $11.50 per hour over the next three years, in step with Prince George’s County and D.C.
The state measure, which has backing from Gov. Martin O’Malley, would raise the wage to $10 per hour in Maryland.
In a response to Berliner’s letter, Leggett said he supports Elrich’s county minimum wage bill, calling the upcoming General Assembly push to raise the state minimum wage no guarantee.
Berliner wrote that he was “betting on success.”
“To be clear, I am a strong supporter of an increase of the minimum wage at the state level. On the most fundamental level, the gap between those at the top and those at the bottom continues to grow, and we need to tend to those who are laboring hard but can hardly make it. No one questions that the federal minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living, and that is a tougher pill to swallow here where the cost of living is arguably the highest in the state,” Berliner wrote.
“Given these favorable prospects at the state level, I do not see the value in moving county legislation before the next legislative session ends,” Berliner wrote, before asking Leggett for his opinion on the county measure.
In a public hearing before the County Council on Elrich’s bill, many businesses said the county minimum wage would be “devastating” to business, even though Elrich has said exceptions will be made for certain part-time or tip-dependent workers at restaurants.
In October, Berliner said he would not support the bill because of concerns about how it would affect the county’s business competitiveness with Northern Virginia counties and other counties in Maryland.
“I don’t doubt for a moment and I know in my heart that people can not live on a minimum wage in Montgomery County,” Berliner said. “I also believe that this effort to make it regional is an important one, but I would say to Mr. Elrich, at least from where I sit, in terms of Montgomery County’s competitiveness…that we’re looking at Frederick, we’re looking at Howard, we’re looking at Fairfax, we’re looking at Arlington. We’re looking at a whole broad array of jurisdictions with whom we are in competition and we need to understand before we act on this, in my judgement, what impact this will have on our competitiveness.”
For the past nearly 20 years, two men have been Montgomery County Executive and they’ll be facing each other in next June’s primary.
Louis Peck’s piece in Bethesda Magazine on the dynamics of the race between Isiah Leggett and Doug Duncan is full of stuff of great interest to those who follow local politics. But besides the effects of a first-time June primary, the potential for negative campaigning and the presence of a third candidate — Councilmember Phil Andrews — Peck focuses on the different personalities and leadership styles of the two men.
After all, their political views aren’t that different:
“By every measure, Doug was very involved and was often referred to as another delegate,” says one state legislator who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Comparing Leggett and Duncan, the legislator adds: “People don’t fear Ike; they like him, they respect him. Doug, in terms of being a bolder, more intimidating presence, would probably get his way.
“Having said that, Doug is not that likable — and you see how now, running for county executive, people aren’t jumping on his bandwagon, even though the 12 years of Duncan were perceived as a very successful time.
“So the past and the present are converging a bit,” the legislator notes. “[Duncan’s] style has some benefits, but I’m not sure it’s benefiting him in the current campaign cycle.”
It appears Duncan will point to underlying discontent from the business community about the “business unfriendly” climate in the county.
But many local politicans and political observers told Peck they don’t see one single issue large enough — or controversial enough — to sway people to drop the incumbent Leggett.
“Any kind of criticism of Ike is pretty much around the edges,” Councilmember Nancy Floreen told Peck.
There’s been a lot going on in the highly competitive, if still far away, race for three District 16 House of Delegates seats. Also, a new group of local neighborhood activists has come out with an interesting endorsement in the gubernatorial primary.
Cooper Heads Back To Alma Mater For Civics Lesson — D-16 Delegate candidate Jordan Cooper did some guest teaching on Monday at Walter Johnson High School. The subject — AP National, State and Local Government — was near and dear to Cooper’s aspirations for state office.
“I was first introduced to government in these same classrooms. My overarching goal today is to make the pathway towards public service for our students clearer,” Cooper said in a prepared release. “I hope to open their eyes to the fact they too can run for public office and transform their visions of a better community into a new reality.”
Cooper graduated from Walter Johnson in 2003 and served as a student page in Annapolis during his senior year.
Jamgochian Joins Leventhal For Boy Scouts Food Drive — D-16 Delegate candidate Hrant Jamgochian joined County Councilmember George Leventhal on Saturday in Potomac at an annual food drive held by Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts from throughout the county. Scouts from more than 30 units collected and loaded food for distribution to in-need families through the Manna Food Center.
Kuker-Kihl Actively Campaigning — Karen Kuker-Kihl, a retired teacher and one-time County Council candidate, is actively campaigning for a D-16 Delegate seat. Kuker-Kihl spoke at the Montgomery County Renters Alliance candidates forum last month in Silver Spring and was at the 2013 State of the Schools event on Monday in North Bethesda.
Kuker-Kihl makes seven announced candidates for the three delegate seats, joining Cooper, Jamgochian, incumbent Ariana Kelly, Marc Korman, Gareth Murray and Kevin Walling.
News and Notes — Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and Sheriff Darren Popkin have endorsed Korman for delegate, the Korman campaign announced Tuesday. ….Kelly held a fundraiser on Thursday and got support from County Executive Isiah Leggett. “I cannot afford to not have her,” in Annapolis, was Leggett’s message. …A group called Progressive Neighbors announced its endorsement of Takoma Park Del. Heather Mizeur for the Democratic gubernatorial bid, calling Mizeur “the most progressive candidate in the race.” The group of local civic leaders cites schools, a living wage, universal health care, public transportation and sustainable land use policies as some of its values.
Photos via Jordan Cooper, Hrant Jamgochian campaigns
With Pepco officials barred from the event, power reliability advocates on Wednesday sharply criticized a regulatory climate they claim is heavily stacked in favor of the electric company and against customers.
And in a significant step for Pepco critics, the advocates aired out those grievances in front of a large group of county and state political candidates.
North Bethesda resident Abbe Milstein, through her Powerupmontco email list and funding from AARP, hosted the event in a conference room at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.
The forum was tightly controlled. Milstein said she rejected requests from Pepco officials, including Montgomery County lobbyist Jerry Pasternak, to attend. Milstein also said she faced political pressure in the form of harassing emails in the days leading up to the event, though she wouldn’t specify who sent the emails or what exactly was written because the communications were confidential.
Much of the background was provided by energy attorney Stanley Balis, who represented Montgomery County in a past rate case. The goal, according to Milstein, was to educate political candidates on the complex state system for regulating utilities such as Pepco.
Balis, along with Milstein and Town of Somerset Councilmember Cathy Pickar, depicted a feckless Public Service Commission and General Assembly swayed by Pepco campaign contributions. The presentation included a 50-page booklet to guide a detailed talk on state utility law and recent rate cases.
District 16 House of Delegates candidates Jordan Cooper, Hrant Jamgochian, Marc Korman, Gareth Murray and Kevin Walling were in attendance. So was current delegate and District 16 State Senate candidate Susan Lee.
County councilmember and county executive candidate Phil Andrews attended and was later joined by one of his opponents — County Executive Isiah Leggett.
Del. Heather Mizeur, running for the Democratic gubernatorial bid, attended briefly. Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar was there.
Also in the audience was District 18 Del. Al Carr, who has introduced legislation to improve the transparency of the PSC and provide reimbursement for individuals or nonprofits hoping to be part of the rate case process.
Balis argued that Pepco shrewdly got legislation passed that allows separate reliability standards “for each electric company,” to account for things such as “existing infrastructure.” Balis said that means Pepco has been rewarded for having a dilapidated infrastructure, because the PSC can take that infrastructure into account while determining standards for the duration of power outages and frequency of power outages.
The PSC’s standards for 2012-2015 give Pepco more leniency with regard to the frequency of power outages than the state’s other five major electric companies in each year. Pepco’s prescribed standards for the duration of power outages are generally stricter than the other five companies.
An upcounty resident is making a run at one of the Montgomery County Council’s four at-large seats and has a fundraiser scheduled for Chevy Chase later this month.
Beth Daly, a Dickerson resident who does political communications and marketing for Telemundo, is one of two announced candidates for an at-large place on the Council.
Daly is a member of the Montgomery County Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board and the Sugarloaf Citizens Association and has been active in the debate around a new master plan in Clarksburg and bus rapid transit on the northern section of MD 355.
Daly officially announced in September. In August, she told Bethesda Magazine she lived in Bethesda before moving to Dickerson 13 years ago.
In an introduction video, Daly said infrastructure and development were two of her main concerns.
“How we grow is just as important as how much we grow,” Daly said. “We need to put the smart back in smart growth. I do not want to hear the Montgomery County Council is powerless to fix the problems it created or allowed to fester under its watch.”
At-large Councilmembers Marc Elrich (Takoma Park), Nancy Floreen (Garrett Park), George Leventhal (Takoma Park) and Hans Riemer (Takoma Park) are all expected to run for reelection.
Olney resident Vivian Malloy, a member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, is the only registered County Council candidate. The Democratic primary is June 24.
Evan Glass, a Silver Spring civic activist, has openly discussed a run at County Council and is on a listening tour, with a planned discussion at a Bethesda home later this month.
Daly’s fundraiser is set for Nov. 21 at the home of two supporters in North Chevy Chase.
Video via BethDaly4Moco on Vimeo
The 65-year-old former District 20 delegate, higher education advocate and part-time pastor with a psychology degree is running in District 16, touting his experience in a new class of delegates that will likely include a lot of first-termers.
“I don’t take running lightly. It’s a position of service. It’s not to advance your own status. There’s a tendency for elected officials to forget that,” Murray said. “I enjoy doing this. I feel like this is my niche.”
Murray represented Silver Spring and Takoma Park in District 20 from 2003 to 2007 before losing a re-election bid. The married father of two moved to Potomac in 2008. He looked at running in what was then District 15 in 2010, but said it didn’t make sense to run against Aruna Miller, who had strong party support to replace outgoing Delegate and now County Councilmember Craig Rice.
“I’m a team player,” Murray said. “I told people, if something comes up down the road, let me know.”
Murray’s neighborhood was then carved out of District 15 and put in District 16, where a significant reshuffling has left two delegate seats open.
“You’ve got two vacancies all of a sudden and I only need one seat,” Murray said.
Making it easier to do business in Montgomery County is among the issues at the top of his agenda. Murray runs his own small business, a government relations company and wants to start a private pshychotherapy at some point.
He also talked about his higher ed credentials. After his term in Annapolis, Murray went the lobbyist route as the director of legislative affairs for the Maryland Higher Education Commission. He also served on the writing groups for the 2009 and 2013 Maryland State Plan for Higher Education. Tuition increases at state schools have been the lowest in the country since 2007.
Murray said the cost of higher education is still relevant and still important in District 16. He also wants to help the area’s aging population stay in their homes so they can “age with grace.” He also identified traffic as an issue, specifically north-to-south along the I-270 corridor.
In Annapolis, he established a task force on men’s health, the type of issue he said can get overlooked. He compared his “thinking outside the square” philosophy to District 16 Delegate and State Sen. candidate Susan Lee. He worked to fix rules for minority or woman-owned business contractors who could be cut off from a contract with the state in the middle of the contract if their net worth surpassed $750,000.
The Baltimore native said his parents were the type of people to pray about everything they did.
“I prayed about my decision,” Murray said of running in District 16. “If you’re supposed to be serving others, it’s not based on you aspirations for yourself.”
His religious background rubbed some in District 20 the wrong way when it came to same-sex marriage, but Murray said he doesn’t believe government should be involved in people’s personal decisions. He also said his views were unfairly demonized in some circles.
He’s hoping to get another shot in Annapolis.
“Folks in Potomac and Bethesda need representation too,” Murray said.
The Montgomery County Renters Alliance (a BethesdaNow.com advertiser) is expecting a number of candidates running for statewide office in next June’s Democratic primary to talk about renters’ issues and other topics at the Silver Spring Civic Center.
Matt Losak, executive director of the group, said that 16 candidates have committed to speak so far, including candidates for state delegate, state senator, attorney general and governor.
The Renters Alliance, founded in 2011 to address affordability issues and landlord problems cited in a county report, helps tenants form tenant associations, supports tenants in eviction cases and advocates for renters who face drastic rent increases.
The group is attempting to grow its influence among local and state politicians. At a forum last year, a number of county and state officials spoke, including gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Doug Gansler.
A few state officials told the group that lobbyists for building owners dominate the political conversation in Annapolis.
The Alliance is hoping changing demographics — more than 30 percent of Montgomery County residents rent — can boost its standing.
WTOP reporter Kate Ryan will moderate the forum, which is set to run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 21 at the Civic Center (1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring.)
Potomac resident Gareth Murray, who represented Silver Spring and Takoma Park as a District 20 delegate from 2003 to 2007, filed last week to run in District 16 for the June 24 Democratic primary.
Murray, 65, is an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring. He moved to Potomac in 2008.
In a Bethesda Magazine story last month, Murray said he considered running in District 15 in 2010. His home has since been redistricted into District 16, which now has six announced and four filed candidates for three seats.
Murray finished seventh in a field of seven candidates for reelection in 2006. From Bethesda Magazine:
Murray failed to gain the politically powerful backing that year of the local teachers’ union, the Montgomery County Education Association, following a stint in the General Assembly that some criticized as lackluster – even though the MCEA’s statewide parent organization lined up behind him.
Murray’s campaign account had $14,175 in the bank as of January, according to campaign finance data.
He will join Jordan Cooper, Hrant Jamgochian, incumbent Ariana Kelly, Marc Korman and Kevin Walling as announced candidates.
Photo via First Baptist Church of Silver Spring
Marc Korman says he sees the state legislature as a way to have a “much bigger impact on a narrow range of issues.”
Judging by the support he got at a Sunday afternoon fundraiser, the District 16 House of Delegates candidate stands a pretty good chance of putting that belief to work.
Korman, an attorney and longtime local Democratic Party organizer, last week announced the support of a number of elected and former elected officials. On Sunday, Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At large) introduced Korman as an ideal choice to represent the Bethesda and Chevy Chase area in Annapolis.
Attorney General Doug Gansler, District 16 Delegates Ariana Kelly and Susan Lee, District 39 Delegate Charles Barkley, Councilmember Roger Berliner, County Sheriff Darren Popkin and a number of Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee members attended the event.
With District 16 Delegate Bill Frick and State Senator Brian Frosh both vying to take over for Gansler as Attorney General and Lee seeking Frosh’s Senator spot, there are two open delegate seats. Kelly is running to keep her seat.
Korman, 32, said Metro would play a big part of what he specializes in while in Annapolis.
“Metro’s really tough. I’m not naive. It requires the cooperation of Virginia and D.C., the federal government and us, but it’s a really important issue. And it’s important not just for those people who ride it. It’s important for everybody who doesn’t ride but commutes every day, because if the 30,000 people who get on the District 16 Red Line stations every morning got in their cars instead and the people who got on buses and Metro Access got in their cars instead, that’d be pretty bad for traffic for everybody,” Korman told supporters on Sunday.
Korman said Maryland needs to do a better job of using the roughly $300 million a year in operating funds it sends to WMATA to pressure the agency into improving management and communications.
In the long-term, he wants to create a dedicated funding source for the beleaguered transit agency similar to the real estate transfer, business and sales taxes that go toward running transit systems in other cities.
Korman faces at least four other candidates for the district’s three delegate seats. Announced candidates include Jordan Cooper, Hrant Jamgochian, Kelly and Kevin Walling.
Some at the meeting of the Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce told Cardin they fear their businesses face significant increases in healthcare costs if they grow to more than 50 employees.
The ACA employer mandate requires businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health care benefits or pay penalties by Jan. 1, 2015.
About 80 percent of the businesses in the Chamber are small businesses and most have fewer than 50 employees.
Cardin said much of the fear surrounding ACA comes from misinformation. He said the Obama Administration hasn’t done enough to explain what the bill means.
“Most of the people in my state, a friendly state with a friendly governor, don’t know what the Affordable Care Act is,” Cardin said. “We’re gonna have to wait to see how things really play out. In the last two years, we’ve seen the smallest growth in healthcare costs in modern history, smaller than the growth of the economy. We’ve seen some very encouraging signs.”
Cardin said a business of 55 employees won’t have a heavy healthcare burden, but he did say he’s heard from small business owners elsewhere in the state who have been told their insurance premiums will increase.
He said a Republican effort to tie a budget deal to defunding Obamacare will not work, mentioning Senate colleague Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“He’s not gonna win that debate,” Cardin said. “I don’t know why we glorify the people who don’t want compromise. I will not name names. You know who they are on both sides of the aisle. We have a serious problem in the House of Representatives. The speaker can’t lead and it’s not his fault necessarily.”
If no budget deal is reached, the federal government will shut down on Oct. 1.
“The one thing that I think will help business is certainty. We haven’t done that in Washington,” Cardin said. “Worse than that, we go from crisis to crisis to crisis.”
Cardin said he supports a federal minimum wage increase. Some in the chamber are concerned about a proposal from County Councilmember Marc Elrich that would raise the minimum wage in the county to $12.50 an hour. That proposal has gotten little support on the Council, which seems more focused on supporting a minimum wage raise at the state level.
Cardin said he speaks to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) about competition for businesses between the two states, another popular topic for Montgomery County businesses.
“We’re doing very well in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. Can we do better? Absolutely,” Cardin said. “We have certain advantages. Virginia is a different state than Maryland.”
District 16 House of Delegates candidate Marc Korman on Monday announced a new batch of endorsements that includes a number of nearby state legislators, a pair of County Councilmembers and Attorney General Doug Gansler.
Korman, an attorney and longtime local Democratic Party organizer, has pointed to Metro and school construction as two priorities. In July, he announced a list of almost 100 local supporters. Korman is serving as chair of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board and is the secretary of the Bethesda Urban Partnership Board of Directors.
Councilmembers Hans Riemer (D-At large) and Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) both pledged their support for Korman.
“Residents often do not draw a line between issues of county or state responsibility; Marc’s ability to work collaboratively and find solutions will bring valuable experience to Annapolis,” Riemer said in a prepared statement. “Marc has been a leader on transportation and environmental issues, increasingly important issues not only in his district, but to the County as a whole.”
State Sen. Nancy King (D-39-Gaithersburg) also endorsed Korman.
“I have known Marc for many years through his work on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, an important responsibility he has always taken seriously and performed admirably,” King said. “When a controversy or issue arises, Marc is always quick to gather the facts, talk to stakeholders, and help broker pragmatic solutions. Those are important skills that will serve Marc well in the legislature.”
East County Delegate Anne Kaiser, who is chair of the Montgomery County Delegation endorsed Korman. So did Delegates Charles Barkley (D-39), Kirill Reznik (D-39), Kathleen Dumais (D-15), Aruna Miller (D-15) and Eric Luedtke (D-14). State Senator Brian Feldman (D-15) and Gansler are also among the roughly 30 officials, community leaders and Democratic activists on Korman’s “Honorary Committee.”
Photo via Marc Korman