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County holds public hearing on pool law

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ROCKVILLE – On Tuesday the Montgomery County Council held a public hearing on a bill that would allow for hotel pools to remain open without a lifeguard.

If passed, Expedited Bill 16-17 would require hotel pools to have an emergency alert system next to the pool.

The bill, introduced by Council member Sidney Katz (D-3) and cosponsored by Council members Nancy Floreen (D-at large), Marc Elrich (d-at large) and Roger Berliner (D- 1), would repeal what hotel mangers call a costly bill. Montgomery County is one of only two jurisdictions in the state – along with Baltimore County– to require hotels to have a lifeguard on duty while the pool is open.

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Parents and teachers express education concerns

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GERMANTOWN – Teachers, parents of students and family members of teachers said at a budget meeting Feb. 15 they were concerned about items such as minimum wage, allocation of staffing, availability of materials and class size.

County Council member Craig Rice (D-2),chair of the education committee, Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard and Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith led the town hall at Northwest High School.

Rocky Hill Middle School teacher Lisabeth Belman said she wanted their concerns to be heard.

“My issue is that teacher voice,” said Belman.

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Sentinel Hosts Live Stream Roundtable on Hate Crimes

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ROCKVILLE -  The Montgomery County Sentinel will be hosting a live stream roundtable discussion on hate crimes in our community and solutions for dealing with them.

The roundtable discussion will be held on Monday, January 23rd, in the Council Hearing Room (3rd floor) in the County Council Building at 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. 

Brian J. Karem, the executive editor for The Sentinel Newspapers will moderate the event which is scheduled from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. 

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County Raises Minimum Wage

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Council passes minimum wage raise, now awaits Leggett's signature

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ROCKVILLE – After many debates, protests and public hearings, the County Council voted Tuesday to increase the County’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

Now Bill 12-16 awaits County Executive Ike Leggett’s signature before it can become law. Patrick Lacefield, a spokesperson for the County, said Leggett has not decided whether he plans to sign the minimum wage increase in to law.

“We're still reviewing it; we haven't made a decision,” Lacefield said.

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Council will take up minimum wage, budget following break

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Just six days after their counterparts in Annapolis begin the legislative session for the state General Assembly, the Council returns to tackle priority issues for the County, including transportation, education and the economy.

On the agenda for the Council will be the County Budget, minimum wage and sector plans for Bethesda.

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HHS committee split on minimum wage bill

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ROCKVILLE – The County Council continued their debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour during a Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee meeting Wednesday.

The committee discussed Bill 12-16, which would gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2020.

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With County Council away fiercely contested collective bargaining transparency bill waits in limbo

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After initially co-sponsoring a bill to bring transparency to the collective bargaining process, Council member Craig Rice (D-2) has changed his mind and has removed his name from the bill.

Expedited bill 24-16, sponsored by Council President Nancy Floreen (D-at-large), to bring transparency to the collective bargaining process proposes that that the County and unions disclose their initial positions before they collectively bargain, and will set up a three-person arbitration panel chaired by a retired judge.

The bill, which is fiercely opposed by union leaders, is in doubt as it awaits the council Government Operations and Fiscal Policy committee, when the council resumes in September.

“I feel confident that we got it contained,” said Gino Renne, president of the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO).

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Questions rise on school budget

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ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Council president said reducing the achievement gap among public school students was a major part of the council’s budget but she did not explain how the council would spend money to address it.

County Council President Nancy Floreen (D) referred to a letter she said Montgomery County Public Schools chairman Michael Durso (District 5) wrote in which he explained how the board would address the gap in academic performance between different groups of students.

“The detail is in Mr. Durso’s letter and it hasn’t been fully spelled out yet,” said Floreen.

Durso said lowering class sizes and addressing the achievement gap were two priorities of the budget for MCPS. He declined to specify how the board would spend money to lower the achievement gap.

“All of it is intertwined,” said Durso. “The achievement gap is complex.”

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County Council talks economic plans, new members and the challenges ahead

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IkeLeggettROCKVILLE – County Executive Ike Leggett presented a six-point economic plan for the future as he and the members of the next County Council took office on Dec. 1 with a swearing in ceremony at Richard Montgomery High School.

“It is clear that our region’s economy is going through some fundamental changes with a shrinking federal footprint. I intend to refocus our county’s mission to further grow entrepreneurship, middle-class jobs and the innovation economy beyond the federal and local sectors,” Leggett said.

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