Maryland Gov. Wes Moore was all smiles Monday as a key deadline loomed in the Maryland General Assembly, touting the fact that all of his proposals have survived in some fashion.

“We feel great about where our agenda is,” Moore, a Democrat, told reporters during a mid-afternoon press conference. “I mean, this is a pretty historic and also extraordinary moment for the administration, because every single one of the 10 bills that I introduced has now made it past crossover.” He said it’s “remarkable” that several of his bills have Republican co-sponsors.

“Crossover” is a key deadline in the legislative process, when bills must pass at least one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly to have the best chance of full passage. Lawmakers planned to spend much of Monday voting on bills ahead of the deadline.

While all of Moore’s bills remain in play with three weeks to go in the annual legislative session, some of them have been altered or whittled down by lawmakers.

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One of Moore’s highest-profile bills, to accelerate the state minimum wage’s pathway to $15 per hour, has been significantly changed.

Moore wanted to require the minimum wage to be $15 on Oct. 1 — a change from the current schedule of 2025 or 2026, depending on the size of the employer — and for future increases to be automatic and tied to inflation.

The Senate approved a version of the bill requiring the $15 wage on Jan. 1, with no future increases planned.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks with reporters on March 20, 2023 about his legislative agenda at the State House on "crossover" day, the deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly to have the best chance of passage.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks with reporters on March 20, 2023 about his legislative agenda at the State House on “crossover” day, the deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly to have the best chance of passage. (Pamela Wood)

Moore said that while he still supports indexing increases to inflation, he’s most pleased that low-wage workers will soon get a boost.

“I personally support indexing, but I’m also not losing sight of what we’re about to accomplish here,” Moore said. “I campaigned on making sure that we could get this $15 minimum wage done, and we are weeks away from having a bill to my desk that’s going to do exactly that.”

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While the revised minimum wage bill has passed the Senate, it still awaits action in the House of Delegates.

Other proposals that have been scaled back include bills to make a tax break on military retirement income more generous and to subsidize health insurance costs for members of the Maryland National Guard.

Under current law, the first $5,000 of military retirement income for those younger than 55 is exempt from taxes and the first $15,000 is exempted for those 55 and older.

The bill moving forward bumps the amount of exempt income to $12,500 and $20,000, short of Moore’s original proposal of $25,000 and $40,000.

Moore, who attended military boarding school and later reached the rank of captain in the Army Reserve, said he was still proud of the work on veterans’ issues. Boosting the retirement tax credit will help keep military retirees in Maryland, instead of leaving for other states with better tax breaks, he said.

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“We want to make sure that these military retirees and these military veterans are staying home,” he said. “I do not want Maryland to be anybody’s farm system.”

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks with reporters on March 20, 2023 about his legislative agenda at the State House on “crossover” day, the deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly to have the best chance of passage.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore speaks with reporters on March 20, 2023 about his legislative agenda at the State House on “crossover” day, the deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber of the Maryland General Assembly to have the best chance of passage. (Pamela Wood)

Also still in play is Moore’s Family Prosperity Act, which enhances two tax credits that help lower-income families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

Moore has taken a markedly different strategy with the Democratic-led legislature than his predecessor, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Hogan opted not to testify in person before lawmakers, and often criticized them during press conferences and interviews.

Moore, who like legislative leaders is a Democrat, testified multiple times on his bills and he’s regularly invited groups of lawmakers to the governor’s mansion for meetings. The governor deemed it a “new sense of cooperation” with the legislature and other elected officials.

”The thing that we’re seeing right now is that despite that, despite never having run for office before, we know how to build a world-class team. We know how to move legislation. We’re having historic momentum and progress on our legislative package.”

pamela.wood@thebaltimorebanner.com

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County.

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