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Best Week, Worst Week: Judges get a pay hike; state song faces a demotion

best-worst-031718Maryland judges will be getting more in the next few years while hearing the state song might be happening a little less frequently.

Maryland judges will receive their first pay raise since 2015 this July, as both the state Senate and House of Delegates joined in passing a resolution calling for a $5,000 annual boost for the next four years.

Legal affairs writer Steve Lash reported Monday that The Senate’s 42-2 vote followed testimony from Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and Court of Appeals Judge Joseph M. Getty – himself a former delegate and senator – in which they told senators the pay increase was needed to entice and retain the best legal minds to the bench.

At the end of the resolution’s four-year cycle, the Court of Appeals chief judge’s salary will be $215,433; the Court of Special Appeals chief judge will be paid $186,633; and the chief district court judge will get $183,633. The salary of Court of Appeals judges will be $196,433; Court of Special Appeals judges will get $183,633; circuit court judges will receive $174,433; and district court judges will be paid $161,333.

By comparison, Gov. Larry Hogan’s annual salary is $180,000. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch are paid $65,371 each.

Meanwhile, Maryland’s state’s song could get a demotion of sorts under a bill preliminarily approved by the state Senate.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported Wednesday that “Maryland, My Maryland,” the official state song, could find itself relegated to a footnote in state history and redesignated as the historical state song. It’s a change some lawmakers say is too long in coming – the song has been described as “divisive, dated and racist” — as officials here and around the country seek to deal with remnants of the country’s ties to slavery and the Civil War. Other legislators, meanwhile, say that jettisoning the song amount to erasing history.

An original bill called for repealing the state song status for “Maryland, My Maryland,” but in its place, the bill now calls for the creation of a state commission that would begin a search for a new state song.

Opponents of demoting the state song called the bill “kind of like a participation trophy bill” and “a do-nothing bill,” saying it could lead to a slippery slope of what could or would change, especially with the Maryland flag and other state institutions.