HOGAN TO PUSH TAX CUTS: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan said Thursday that he will propose tax cuts in his first legislative session as governor, despite a roughly $750 million budget hole he will have to fill. Democratic legislative leaders, however, urged caution in pushing to cut taxes this year as Maryland faces budget challenges, reports the AP’s Brian Witte in the Salisbury Daily Times.
NEW HOGAN APPOINTMENTS: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan tapped an investment banker, two former legislators and a Republican primary rival Thursday to fill posts in his new administration and reiterated his pledge to provide tax relief during his first legislative session, reports John Wagner in the Post.
- R. Michael Gill, chairman of the Evergreen Advisors investment bank, is Hogan’s pick to lead the Department of Business and Economic Development, Michael Dresser is reporting in the Sun.
- Hogan named also named Kenneth Holt to head the Department of Housing and Community Development, according to Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Holt, 63, served one term in the House of Delegates on the Appropriations Committee and ran unsuccessfully for Baltimore County executive in 2010. He is the founder of a software company and also owns and operates a farm where he raises thoroughbred horses and cattle.
MCCORMICK’S FUTURE IN MARYLAND: R. Michael Gill is so confident that spice and flavoring manufacturer McCormick & Co. wants to stay in Maryland that he can almost smell it, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Gill, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s pick to lead the Department of Business and Economic Development, spoke to reporters Thursday about the company and the possibility that it might leave its Hunt Valley home for one in Delaware or Virginia. The thought clearly left a bad taste in his mouth.
- Gill proved chattier than Hogan’s other appointees so far, taking a few minutes to talk about topics like McCormick’s headquarters search and the use of state incentives in attracting businesses to Maryland, writes Rick Seltzer for the Baltimore Business Journal. He didn’t say whether he plans to use state incentives to entice McCormick to stay. But he said he’s generally not against using incentives.
MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: On Jan. 1, Maryland’s minimum wage increased by 75 cents to $8 an hour, which will have ripple effects across the economy, according to those on both sides of the issues, write Jacob Owens for the Cecil Whig. The increase is the first of five approved by the Maryland General Assembly last year, which will eventually see the state’s minimum wage raised to $10.10 an hour by July 2018. A second increase this year — to $8.25 an hour — will occur on July 1.
MORE CLEAN ENERGY: A coalition of environmentalists, business leaders and social justice activists in Maryland are pushing for legislation that would reduce the state’s dependency on fossil fuel by doubling its clean energy mandate from 20% to 40%, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting.
SERVICE, NOT SUSPENSION: Prince George’s high school students may be assigned community service as opposed to suspension or expulsion under a proposed pilot program. The bill, proposed by Del. Alonzo Washington of Hyattsville, would create a program at three county high schools that would assign community service rather than suspension for nonviolent, nonsexual offenses committed on school property. During the 2013-14 school year, 13,846 students were suspended or expelled from Prince George’s County Public Schools, more than half — 7,463 — for insubordination or disruption, reports Jamie Anfenson-Comeau for the Gazette.
GBC’S LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES: Donald Fry of the Greater Baltimore Committee writes about the GBC’s legislative priorities including creating a tax credit for angel investors, building a skilled workforce and fully funding the state’s Red and Purple Lines. This appears in Center Maryland.
ON TRANSPORTATION: In his weekly Lead Up to the Annapolis Summit, Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM discusses issues facing the 2015 Maryland General Assembly. This segment’s topic is transportation, and his guests are: John Bullock, professor of political science at Towson University; and Charles Lollar, businessman, Marine CorpsReserve officer, and former candidate for the Maryland Republican gubernatorial nomination.
FROSH TAPS FIVE: Two days after he was sworn in as Maryland’s 46th attorney general, Brian Frosh announced five appointments to his senior leadership team on Thursday, Lauren Kirkwood reports in the Daily Record. They include former Sun journalist David Nitkin as communications director, the job he held with former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
3 IS FINE: The editorial board for the Sun opines that it didn’t mean a whole lot when Education Week said Maryland had the top public schools in the nation for five years in a row, and it doesn’t mean much now that the newspaper says they’re third-best. The practical upshot, if there is one, is that we won’t have to listen to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan bragging incessantly about the state’s No. 1 ranked schools like Gov. Martin O’Malley did — unless, of course, Education Week changes its criteria again and Maryland regains the top spot, at which point we’ll no doubt be hearing about it ad nauseam.
HOW HOGAN WON: In an analysis for MarylandReporter.com, political consultant Jim Burton writes that it was energized Republicans and disinterested Democrats who helped Hogan win the governor’s race.
STAYING THE COURSE: In a column for the Daily Record Fraser Smith asks, with a new administration from the Republican Party, whether the two political parties will fall back into their old standard ways of acting or actually change course.
ACA YEAR 2: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM hosts Carolyn Quattrocki, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, who answers questions about second-year insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act and how the exchange is faring following its disastrous launch in 2013.
STATE CUTS COST PG: Arelis Hernández of the Post reports that Prince George’s County is expected to lose $7.6 million in funding after the state approved millions in cuts from the budget as part of the outgoing governor’s last-ditch effort to shrink the deficit before he leaves office.
TWO HOWARD DELEGATES NOW SENATORS: When Howard County’s General Assembly delegation returns to Annapolis next week, its ranks will include two new senators, although they’ll be familiar faces around the State House. Senators-elect Gail Bates and Guy Guzzone have both done a stint in the House of Delegates – Bates for nearly 13 years and Guzzone for eight, writes Amanda Yeager for the Sun.
CILIBERTI RECOMMENDED: The Frederick County Republican Central Committee has recommended Barrie Ciliberti to replace Del. Kelly Schulz in District 4, and the Carroll County Republican Central Committee is hoping to make its recommendation for the Senate seat of Joe Getty in District 5 by the end of the week. Wiley Hayes reports the story for the Carroll County Times. Schulz and Getty, both Republicans, were named to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s cabinet in December as the secretary of labor and his chief legislative officer, respectively.
GRASSO BLASTS ‘FREELOADERS:’ Rema Rahman of the Annapolis Capital reports that Anne Arundel County Councilman John Grasso said he stands by his comments at the council’s Monday meeting that people who can’t afford it should not live in Anne Arundel County. During an hour-long telephone conversation Thursday, the Glen Burnie Republican told The Capital those seeking government assistance are “freeloaders.” He said that includes those who seek help and have had kids while not on a sound financial footing.
GARDNER ON MACO BOARD: Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner this week stepped onto the board of directors for the Maryland Association of Counties, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. She was sworn in as a member of the board during the MACo winter conference, which started in Cambridge on Wednesday and ends today.
SENATE DEMS TO VISIT BALTIMORE: Senate Democrats, looking to regroup after turning the chamber over to a new Republican majority this week, will hold their annual policy retreat in Baltimore, John Fritze reports for the Sun.
CARDIN COULD SUCCEED BOXER: California Sen. Barbara Boxer’s retirement in 2016 may open an opportunity for another environment-friendly Democrat: Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, reports John Fritze for the Sun. Cardin is the third-ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, behind Boxer and Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware. Carper is already the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. If Carper stays in that position, Cardin would likely be in line to succeed Boxer in 2017.
DUTCH LOSES COMMITTEE SEAT: Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a member of the House Intelligence Committee for a record 12 years, lost his seat on the panel Thursday when House Democratic leaders appointed a replacement. Ian Duncan of the Sun is reporting that the Baltimore County lawmaker, who served four years beyond the committee’s eight-year term limit, had sought permission to continue as its top Democrat. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Adam Schiff of California on Thursday to fill that role.
STILL MULLING PRESIDENTIAL RUN: Entering the final two weeks of his eight years in office, Gov. Martin O’Malley used his final Board of Public Works meeting on Wednesday to lambaste Washington, D.C. and tout his own economic record. Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that, in doing so, the Democrat threw out a few lines seemingly fit for a presidential campaign stump speech. If O’Malley runs for president in 2016 and is questioned on the rocky Maryland economy, expect him to have ammunition ready to launch against a “do-nothing Congress” in Washington, D.C.
- An AP report in the Easton Star Democrat says that O’Malley, in Chicago on Thursday, said he will decide by spring whether to seek the Democratic nomination for president.
CARSON APOLOGIZES: Ben Carson, the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who is considering a run for president in 2016, apologized Thursday for lifting portions of his 2012 book, “America the Beautiful,” without offering credit. The apology came a day after the news site BuzzFeed pointed to instances in which Carson copied wholesale sections the book from an anti-socialism website and several conservative historians, writes John Fritze for the Sun.