State Roundup, June 24, 2016

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: When the new fiscal year begins July 1, Maryland’s minimum wage will once again increase by 50 cents, up to $8.75 per hour. Authorized by legislation under former Gov. Martin O’Malley, the state’s wage hike has been gradual, increasing from the federal rate of $7.25 to $8, and then to $8.25 last July, CJ Lovelace reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

PELL GRANTS FOR PRISONERS: John Fritze of the Sun writes that about 12,000 prisoners nationwide will have access to federal Pell grants to help pay for college courses under an effort the Obama administration is pursuing despite a decades-old congressional ban on offering student financial aid to inmates. Only inmates eligible for release will be permitted to enroll in the program.

MPT AUDIT: Maryland Public Television failed to adequately protect donor financial information gathered during fundraising efforts, according to a state audit covering the years 2011 to 2015, David Zurawik reports in the Sun. The report also questioned MPT’s handling of contracts worth $8 million and its monitoring of payments to companies hired for such fundraising services as operating a call center. MPT officials challenged the findings on the way contracts were awarded and other financial and procedural matters. It did not dispute the charges that donor privacy was not properly protected but stated that confidential information was not breached.