Governor lays out legislative wish list
*** UPDATED with Race to the Top information.
Governor Martin O'Malley has just released his 2010 legislative agenda, and there aren't a lot of surprises in it; he and his aides have been touting the big items for weeks. In this election year, the Democratic governor is undoubtedly hopeful that most of these proposals will go over well with the General Assembly.
First up for consideration, most likely, are proposed changes to the state's unemployment insurance system. The insurance fund stands to gain a huge infusion of federal cash -- $127 million -- if the state increases the period of time that can be considered when someone applies for unemployment benefits. Both the House and Senate are to hold hearings this week.
Notably, the governor's agenda does not specifically address teacher tenure and incentive pay, changes that state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick believes are necessary if Maryland wants to compete for up to $250 million in federal Race to the Top money.
*** UPDATE *** However, those bills appear to be on the way in short order. In a press release about O'Malley's legislative agenda, his office writes, "The Governor also plans on introducing legislation at a later date to better position Maryland for federal Race to the Top funding. The Governor continues to work with stakeholders to craft reforms that will further improve the nation’s number one public school system."
Here's a quick rundown of other O'Malley agenda items:
Sex offenders: Require lifetimes supervision for certain offenders.
Jobs: "Jobs, jobs, jobs," O'Malley has repeatedly said when asked about the three most important issues of this session. He wants to give businesses that hire unemployed Marylanders a $3,000 tax credit and stimulate small-business lending.
Energy: O'Malley isn't pushing for energy reregulation this year. Instead, he has proposed accelerating the state's solar energy use, giving the Public Service Commission the authority over offshore wind facilities and reuathorizing the renewable energy production tax credit.
Foreclosures: As the administration has said over the past few months, O'Malley will push for mandatory mediation before an owner loses his or her home.
The governor is also again pursuing a Medicaid false claims bill, which didn't succeed last year.