Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) on Wednesday announced a series of priorities for the upcoming legislative session, including an increase in the minimum wage, that largely reflects issues he has pushed as a candidate for governor.
Gansler, who faces a competitive Democratic primary in June, said he would back legislation during the 90-day session to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10, as well as other measures focused on crime, energy usage and consumer protection.
“Why accept the status quo when we can make Maryland a better place by providing a fair wage, honestly addressing the current failures of our criminal justice system and promoting sustainable, clean energy?” Gansler said in a statement issued by his office.
Montgomery and Prince George’s counties recently passed legislation raising the minimum wage in their jurisdictions to $11.50 an hour over the next four years. A parade of Democrats, including Gansler’s primary opponents, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery), have voiced support for statewide legislation in the upcoming session, which starts Jan. 8. Gansler held a news conference in late August touting his backing.
Among the other measures Gansler said he will champion next month is a bill that would provide enhanced penalties for people who commit domestic violence in the presence of a child. Gansler testified in support of similar legislation during this year’s session, but the measure did not become law.
Gansler said he will also advocate for a bill that would allow ex-offenders to petition a court to shield their records after a certain period of time upon completing their sentence and their parole or probation. Gansler said the measure would significantly improve the chances for ex-offenders to get jobs and become “productive members of the community.”
The legislation is consistent with other measures Gansler has supported on the campaign trail to give a second chance to those who were formerly incarcerated and to reduce the state’s recidivism rate.
Gansler said he will also push to increase a requirement affecting the percentage of electricity that Maryland’s suppliers must provide from renewable energy sources. Under Gansler’s proposal, that amount will be 40 percent by the year 2025, a move he said will help cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and further reduce damaging impacts of climate change.
The current standard is 20 percent by 2022. Mizeur has also proposed raising the standard to 40 percent by 2025.
Also on Gansler’s list of 2014 legislative priorities: authorizing a satellite office of the Attorney General’s consumer protection division in Prince George’s County . Gansler said doing so would help better serve the 32 percent of Maryland residents who live in the suburban Washington region. Prince George’s also happens to be a key battleground in the Democratic primary.