February 5, 2015

State Roundup, February 5, 2015

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STATE OF THE STATE: In his first State of the State address, Gov. Larry Hogan called for halting automatic increases in the state’s gas tax, creating a tax exemption for small businesses, providing tax relief for military, police and fire retirees, and repealing a storm­water mitigation fee he has long derided as the “rain tax,” writes John Wagner for the Post.

Yumi

The governor’s wife Yumi Hogan was introduced in the gallery.

REACTION: Few expected Maryland’s Democrat-controlled legislature to whoop and holler in glee at Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State. But by the time he finished, any visage of bipartisanship and tongue-biting had evaporated. Erin Cox of the Sun put together a sampling of the best zingers and one-liners offered by Maryland lawmakers in reaction to the speech.

DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE: Here’s the Democratic response to Hogan’s State of the State, delivered by House majority leader Anne Kaiser. It appears in the Post.

FACT CHECK: Gov. Larry Hogan, in his State of the State address, made a startling new claim that Maryland was the worst state in the United States for manufacturing. “We’re No. 3 in the nation in foreclosures, and dead last in manufacturing,” he told the General Assembly. The governor is wrong, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

LEGISLATING MANURE: Environmentally concerned lawmakers in Annapolis are moving to legislate farm pollution restrictions withdrawn by Gov. Larry Hogan, Timothy Wheeler is reporting in the Sun. Sen. Paul Pinsky said he’s introducing a bill Wednesday to keep Eastern Shore farmers from spreading phosphorus-rich poultry manure on fields already saturated with the polluting nutrient.

HIKING CIGARETTE TAX: Despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s promise to cut taxes, Sen. Richard Madaleno and the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative are pushing to raise taxes on cigarettes by $1 to $3 a pack to fend off Hogan’s budget cuts to health care, writes Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com.

MANDATED SICK LEAVE: A bill that would mandate paid sick leave for Maryland businesses with 10 or more employees drew strong support and criticism Tuesday during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, writes Arelis Hernandez in the Post.

STATE VACCINE POLICY: In the midst of a national debate over vaccination requirements, Maryland policy seems to straddle the line between those who advocate for parent choice and those who argue that immunizations should be mandatory as a matter of public health, Lauren Kirkwood reports in the Daily Record.

MAKING CHANGE: Business owner Jay Steinmetz writes in an op-ed for the Sun that the political momentum exists to make the changes everyone wants to improve Maryland, and now is the time to come together to make that happen. But it will take more than highway signs and campaign slogans to turn that momentum into policy changes needed to make Maryland economically competitive. We need to define our own success, and this election helps us do that.

WA CO CONVERGES ON ANNAPOLIS: Community and business leaders from Washington County converged at the state capital on Wednesday for an annual event showcasing the best of the county. Kaustuv Basu of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that the “Day in Annapolis” event also offers an opportunity for county leaders to meet with influential lawmakers and those in the executive branch to discuss issues important to Washington County.

LEGISLATORS SWORN IN: Republican Dels. Justin Ready of Carroll County and Andrew Serafini of Washington County were appointed by the governor and sworn in to their new Senate seats so fast on Monday that they didn’t have time to bid farewell to their former House colleagues till Tuesday, writes Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com.

COMPTROLLER CAN COLLECT: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that trial judges cannot stop the state comptroller from collecting a tax while the taxpayer’s administrative challenge is pending, a Maryland appeals court has held. In its decision, the Court of Special Appeals said a Baltimore County judge wrongfully vacated a tax lien assessed against John Zorzit and his company, Nick’s Amusements Inc., which had pleaded guilty in October 2010 to charges of laundering $35,000 in illegal gambling proceeds and was ordered to pay $50,000.

CARET ON THE JOB: Bob Caret doesn’t officially start his new job as chancellor of the University System of Maryland until July, but he’s already hard at work, writes Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland.  He’s making regular trips to Maryland to meet with university presidents, state leaders and others whose support he will need in the coming years.

STATE CENTER TAX BREAK: If the long-delayed $1.5 billion redevelopment project at State Center ever gets built, Baltimore City has tax breaks waiting for it, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun. The city’s Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, authorized Wednesday a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes deal for the project, which now generates no city tax revenue but could contribute millions of dollars if the tract is redeveloped.

HARRIS’S HEALTH POLICY: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks takes U.S. Rep. Andy Harris to task over what he calls his obtuseness and hypocrisy concerning his constituents need for health care coverage, which Harris is privileged to have and which his constituents desperately need. It’s also something that he is willing to deny to them.

CUMMINGS WARNS FEDERAL WORKERS: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told a gathering of federal employees on Wednesday that he anticipates an “unprecedented and extremely damaging assault” on federal employees this year by the GOP-controlled Congress, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

  • “…unprecedented and extremely damaging assault…” on federal employees. May I rightly infer that that means he doesn’t want any federal jobs eliminated ever for any reason?