Dec. 2 // A rush to bump the minimum wage in Montgomery County

Minimum-wage laws protect workers from a race to the bottom of the pay scale, thus advancing economic equality. The federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, which also prevails in Maryland and Virginia (it’s $8.25 in the District), is too low — just 36 percent of the average private-sector wage — having eroded in real terms since the last increase in 2009. The trade-off, of course, is that raising the wage too high and too suddenly could unduly deter employment, which would also hurt workers. So the question should be not whether to raise the minimum but how. (Wash. Post)

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Maryland has an opportunity to lead the way in bail reform

Nearly half a million people crowding the nation's regional jails — two thirds of the jail population — are awaiting trial. Many of them are poor people of color incarcerated on non-violent, non-felony charges for an average of two weeks because they can't afford the price of freedom: the going bail rate for their alleged crime. (Balt. Sun)

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Pantelides, Council Start On A Challenging Agenda

Pantelides and his administration have a big agenda. The new mayor and the council must work together in a spirit of open-mindedness and cooperation. The council needs to remember that Pantelides was elected — and his agenda was endorsed — by a vote of the whole city. The new mayor needs to remember that the aldermen were elected by their wards and have experience in city affairs. (Capital)

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Maryland’s health exchange needs a doctor

Ten thousand people a day are submitting health-care insurance applications in California, a state where officials embraced President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Kentucky’s governor has presided over a relatively error-free implementation of the law in his state, showing leaders across the South what they could do if they cooperated instead of rooting for the policy to fail. Maryland started strong after Congress passed the reform. The state approved a series of laws in preparation for the rollout. It was blessed with active public-health nonprofits ready to push implementation. (Wash. Post)

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Lauren Young: Some laws still ugly

In the 19th and 20th centuries, cities across the country banned people with disabilities from begging in public. The laws targeted people with "physical and mental deformities," "imperfect bodies reduced by amputation" and "imbeciles." Known as "ugly laws," their effect was to push people with disabilities out of public sight while further impoverishing them. While those laws have since been repealed, recent efforts in Baltimore city and county hearken back to them. (Balt. Sun)

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Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: Baltimore has a stake in the farm bill

Washington gridlock has stopped Congress from passing a much needed farm bill. Here in Baltimore, my administration has put politics aside to implement an aggressive urban agricultural plan to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and support local farmers. Washington needs to do the same and pass a farm bill that will give cities and rural communities the support they need. Negotiations remain stalled, and if Congress fails to act before year's end, the consequences could be great for Baltimore families. (Balt. Sun)

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Robert McCartney: Montgomery’s bus rapid transit looks like a feel-good plan rather than a realistic blueprint

The original, bold, visionary plan to solve traffic gridlock in Montgomery County called for 160 miles of fancy, new bus lanes. Under the actual plan adopted Tuesday, the so-called bus rapid transit network shrank to 98 miles. (Wash. Post)

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Dan Clements: A failure of leadership

As a trial lawyer for many years, and as an individual long involved with Planned Parenthood, I have always been deeply concerned about delivery of health care to the poor. Unfortunately, the leadership implementing the Affordable Care Act in Maryland missed the mark by a long shot, leaving Maryland's 800,000 uninsured in the lurch. While there will no doubt be finger pointing as the public continues to learn about the state's botched rollout, there can also be no doubt about who was responsible for leading the effort. "Leader" is the one word that has been used most to describe Lt. Governor Anthony Brown's role in Maryland's effort to implement the Affordable Care Act. (Balt. Sun)

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