January 26, 2015

State Roundup, January 26, 2015

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TRANSIT FUNDING: Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed budget includes funding for the three big proposed state transit projects: the Purple Line, Baltimore’s Red Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway. But none of the projects is out of the woods yet. Hogan’s 2016 budget includes $312.8 million for the Purple Line, “pending review and reevaluation.” Baltimore’s Red Line is slated to receive $106.2 million, also pending review and reevaluation, Dan Reed reports in the Post.

  • Former Transportation Secretary Jim Smith, in an op-ed for the Post, justifies the money spent on the Purple Line, writing that the Purple Line would make commuting easier for all Marylanders in the traffic-choked Washington region. By creating a real transit option for an estimated 74,000 riders a day, the Purple Line would reduce congestion on local roads and major highways for people who still need to drive. It would deliver the missing east-west link in a transit network built 40 years ago, when most people commuted to and from the District.

HOGAN’S BUDGET:  Some leading Democrats, including Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore), the new chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, asked whether the state needs to wipe out its “structural deficit” as aggressively as Gov. Hogan has proposed, John Wagner and Arelis  Hernandez write in the Post.

PLACEHOLDER BUDGET: In MarylandReporter.com, Barry Rascovar writes that Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. must be doing something right in his first few days in office because he’s got nearly everyone upset about his $40 billion budget. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, lobbying groups of all shapes and sizes are griping about parts of the new governor’s spending plan. That’s a good thing.

CARROLL GOP RELENTS ON GETTY SEAT: After several members of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee balked at the governor’s request that the group submit multiple names to fill a vacant legislative seat during an open meeting Thursday, the committee voted hours later in a closed session to submit three names for state Sen. Joe Getty’s District 5 seat.

SECRETS IN CARROLL: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times argues against the manner in which that county’s Republican Central Committee chooses replacement nominees to fill legislative seats, opining that even as the committee agreed last week to submit three names to the governor as possible replacements for Sen. Joe Getty, it continues to leave Carroll’s Republican voters out of the decision-making process and operate in a closed, secretive way. The committee had originally only proposed twice-failed county commissioner candidate Robin Bartlett Frazier to fill the Senate seat in District 5, but the backlash caused a firestorm that got the attention of the governor’s office.

JUDICIARY SEEKS BUDGET HIKE: The Maryland Judiciary has apparently not gotten with the budget-cutting program, reports the Daily Record’s Steve Lash. The state’s judicial branch will seek more than $549 million for fiscal 2016 — a nearly 10% increase from the half-billion dollars the judiciary sought and received for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to documents the Judiciary submitted Friday to the General Assembly.

RAIN TAX ACTION: Even as some counties adjust or consider altering their stormwater fees, state lawmakers will again consider repealing the 2012 law. Efforts to repeal the fees in the General Assembly have been unsuccessful the past two sessions, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun.

HEROIN O.D. PROBLEM: Political leaders in Annapolis and Richmond are searching for ways to combat a wave of heroin overdoses that is killing dozens of their constituents each month — in inner-city neighborhoods, suburbs and rural enclaves, Jenna Johnson and Rachel Weiner report in the Post.

INJURED BABY FUND: Del. Dan Morhaim, an emergency room physician, visits Center Maryland to discuss his support for the creation of a no-fault injured baby fund to address the looming crisis of reduced access to maternity care across the state. Dr. Morhaim explains that the fund, paid for by hospitals, will provide the lifetime care to all families and will prevent the closing of birthing centers that other states have faced due to rising medical liability costs.

LBGT COMMUNITY & HOGAN: Gov. Larry Hogan may have sent a message of “tolerance and mutual respect” during his inauguration on Wednesday, but advocates for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community say his early actions in office have signaled something different, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun.

EVANS WITHDRAWS NAME: Gov. Larry Hogan’s nominee to lead the Department of Natural Resources is withdrawing due to health considerations, Hogan’s office said Friday. Charles Evans Jr., 75, was nominated last month  to lead the department. He is a longtime developer who served as assistant natural resources secretary under the state’s last Republican governor. writes John Wagner in the Post.

POST-LABOR DAY SCHOOL: Eastern Shore school superintendents on Friday urged members of the Eastern Shore Delegation to consider the “unintended consequences” of a school year that starts after Labor Day, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat.

PAID SICK LEAVE: In a column for Center Maryland, Walt Townshend and Christine Walters attack a proposal to allow many Maryland workers to earn paid sick leave as well as to offer unpaid sick leave to others.

HISTORIC FIRST COUPLE: Michael Rosenwald of the Post writes about the historic first couple who has just entered Government House. First lady Yumi Hogan is the first Korean state first lady and unlike the two previous first ladies, she is an artist and not a lawyer.

BALL SPONSORS: Colin Campbell of the Sun reports on the sponsorships of Larry Hogan’s Inaugural Ball.  Although exact costs for each sponsorship were not provided, two of the organizations said their Silver sponsorships cost $25,000. Several said they have sponsored such galas for previous governors. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the cost of the event or the sponsorships.

IMPRESSING THE SHORE: Deborah Gates of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that Gov. Hogan and Lt. Gov. Rutherford visited two events on the Eastern Shore that made a huge impression on it citizens. One was a gathering of the Ministers and Citizens Area Organization, a mostly African-American group that had apparently been snubbed by former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and the other was the People’s Celebration.

LAID BACK BALL: They came by the hundreds, wearing jeans and baseball caps, and rocked to live country music as they partied with the new Republican governor they helped vote into office, Andrea McDonald writes in the Sun.  Dubbed the “people’s celebration,” the event Saturday night at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge was a more laid-back affair than the traditional inaugural ball held Wednesday for Gov. Larry Hogan.

HOGANS, RUTHERFORDS PACK IT IN: Gov. Larry Hogan donned a hair net Sunday for the final inaugural event where he and his wife Yumi, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and his wife Monica, other politicos and average citizens packed macaroni and cheese packs for the Maryland Food Bank, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

Anti-fracking demo

Outside the Howard Community College gym where the Hogans were packing for the Maryland Food Bank, there was an anti-fracking demonstration.

COUNTIES & GUNS: Maryland’s jurisdictions all hold different policies on carrying guns and other weapons in public buildings, Yvonne Wenger and Pamela Wood report in the Sun.

U.S. TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-6th, will take another shot at passing a transportation funding bill, reports Kelsi Loos for the Frederick News Post. He and Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick recently reintroduced the Partnership to Build America Act, which creates a $50 billion infrastructure fund that would be paid for by selling bonds to private companies.

SECRETS IN ARUNDEL:  The exchanges were brief in public but contentious in private, writes Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.  “Grasso says Fink won’t support your chair resolution,” Chris Trumbauer wrote. “You guys are a complete —- show.” That’s one example of how the Anne Arundel County Council debated who would be its next chairman — via text message. It’s a small slice of a request by The Capital under the Maryland Public Information Act, in an effort to shed light on that decision. Most of the request was rejected by County Council Administrative Officer Beth Jones.