Maryland Gov. Wes Moore began the year as a brand-new governor with no elected political experience. He’s walking away from his first General Assembly session with most of his priorities passed in some form or another, and with almost all of his appointees confirmed.

Moore called the session “extraordinarily successful,” while surrounded by reporters crammed into his State House office. Moore was accompanied by his 11-year-old daughter, Mia, and the Moore family dog, Tucker.

And he didn’t just mean for a first-timer.

“We’d argue it’s the most successful session for a governor period, “ he said.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Moore said his 10-bill package was intended to “leave no one behind,” echoing the decree of his administration, showed “we mean exactly that.”

The governor’s report, on the surface, is a perfect 10 out of 10 for the bills he sponsored — though lawmakers revised and reduced some of the bills. Still, the governor has counted partial victories as victories nonetheless, acknowledging that the legislative process is about compromise and give-and-take.

Moore made a point of making personal connections with lawmakers over the course of the session.

To the delight of lawmakers, the governor testified in person on some of his bills, something that his predecessor, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, pointedly never did in eight years. Moore also invited various groups of lawmakers to the governor’s mansion for breakfast meetings.

Moore also threw his support behind a handful of initiatives from lawmakers that ended up passing, including bills protecting access to abortion and expanding hospital testing for fentanyl.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

And when bills passed expanding health care for trans Marylanders on Medicaid and removing barriers for filing lawsuits against institutions for child sexual abuse, Moore quickly announced that he’d sign the measures into law.

Here’s a look at some of Moore’s key initiatives and where they ended up:

Minimum wage

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

The current minimum wage is $13.25 per hour for employers with at least 15 workers and $12.80 at smaller organizations.

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 Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Lawmakers approved a version of the bill requiring the $15 per hour wage on Jan. 1, with no future increases scheduled.

Family Prosperity Act

The Family Prosperity Act enhances two tax credits that help lower-income families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Democratic leaders of the legislature already had their eye on improving these two tax credits, so Moore’s bill had a relatively easy path to passage.

For Moore, the Family Prosperity Act and the minimum wage increase represent two steps toward his promise to eliminate child poverty in Maryland. Tens of thousands of families, many with children, will benefit from the higher wages and better tax breaks.

Back in 2021, lawmakers temporarily made the state’s portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit more generous, resulting in more money ending up in the pockets of low-wage workers at tax time, to help people with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Family Prosperity Act makes the temporary change permanent.

The Family Prosperity Act also expands eligibility for the state’s Child Tax Credit, which was previously so narrowly written that few families used it.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Help for veterans

Moore, who reached the rank of captain in the Army Reserve, proposed two bills focused on the military: a tax break on military retirement income and help for Maryland National Guard members to pay for health insurance.

Both were changed during the legislative sausage-making.

Military retirees already don’t have to pay income tax on a portion of their military retirement income. Moore’s Keep Our Heroes Home Act, as introduced, would increase that amount to the first $25,000 of military retirement income for those younger than 55 and the first $40,000 for those 55 and older. He sold the idea as a way to entice former military members to stay in Maryland, rather than leave for more tax-friendly states.

Lawmakers scaled back the tax break to the first $12,500 of military retirement income for those younger than 55 and the first $20,000 for those 55 and older.

Moore also wanted to make sure that members of the Maryland National Guard could get health insurance through the government’s TRICARE program for free.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

That plan was scaled back, too, with lawmakers changing it to a program of $60 per month grants to Guard members to help with insurance costs. Moore’s initial plan would have cost the state $5 million per year, and the revised plan approved by lawmakers costs less than $500,000.

Community service for young people

On the campaign trail, Moore often promoted his idea of what he called a “service year option” for high school graduates. A strong believer in the power of community service, Moore pitched the paid year of service work as a way to help young adults help their communities, build bonds, learn skills and find direction.

Moore’s SERVE Act — it stands for Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act — would set up that program. The bill has been tweaked by lawmakers and still has steps to go before passage on the final day of the session.

As it is now moving forward, the bill folds Moore’s plan into Maryland Corps, an existing community service program that hasn’t been fully launched. Maryland Corps would have two components: a Young Adult Service Year Pathway, which is essentially Moore’s plan for young people within three years of leaving high school, and the Maryland Service Year Option Pathway, which is essentially the current Maryland Corps plan.

Initially, about 200 young people are expected to participate, ramping up to 2,000 after a few years.

In the SERVE Act, lawmakers also laid out specifics for how the state’s new Department of Service and Civic Innovation will operate, essentially overwriting Moore’s January executive order that created the Cabinet-level department.

Other proposals

Moore’s other proposals that have passed or are nearing approval include:

Key appointments

Every new governor has the responsibility to fill hundreds of positions in state government, from low-profile regulatory boards to high-profile Cabinet secretaries. Some are part-time, volunteer positions, while others are full-time professional jobs leading important state agencies.

The Maryland Senate has the responsibility to “advise and consent” on the appointees, which is done through hearings and a confirmation vote. The majority of Moore’s appointees, including Cabinet secretaries, made it through confirmation votes without any friction.

A couple faced scrutiny before winning Senate confirmation: Juvenile Services Secretary Vincent Schiraldi (Republicans were concerned he supported unproven policies) and Maryland State Police Superintendent Lt. Col. Roland Butler (lawmakers weren’t sure if he was the right person to reform an agency facing challenges).

Two appointees withdrew their names from consideration: Juan Alvarado, who was nominated to the Public Service Commission and was questioned over his prior work for the natural gas industry, and Charles “Chip” Stewart, who was nominated to be the state’s information security officer.

And a Moore nominee for the Maryland Stadium Authority, Maria Martinez, never saw a confirmation vote after the website Maryland Matters reported on prior personal and business financial problems.

pamela.wood@thebaltimorebanner.com

brenda.wintrode@thebaltimorebanner.com

More From The Banner