TWO MARYLANDS: The Post’s Jenna Johnson and Peyton Craighill write that to understand the economic angst that helped elect a Republican governor in heavily Democratic Maryland, venture beyond the tony, millionaire-saturated suburbs to the working-class neighborhoods and rural towns where many people are struggling. It is a place where a Gaithersburg retiree has no idea how to pay for repairs after a pipe burst in his basement last week. Where a Baltimore woman whose last job paid $11 an hour grapples with long-ago college loans. And where a 39-year-old tile setter who can’t find enough work lives with his wife and daughter in his parents’ basement.
RELIEF FOR SMALL BIZ: Part of Gov. Larry Hogan’s promise to make Maryland “open for business” is a bill exempting many small businesses from the personal property tax collected by the counties, reports Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com. The exemption would be given to businesses with less than a $10,000 property value, on items such as equipment, furniture, computers, tools and inventory. It applies to more than half of Maryland’s small businesses and will result in an estimated $7 million in tax relief.
PENSION CUTS: The General Assembly’s budget committees are weighing a proposal to cut payments to the state employee pension system, a move that would free up as much as $60 million that Democratic lawmakers would like to redirect to education and other programs, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. But Gov. Larry Hogan opposes the proposal. And Comptroller Peter Franchot calls it “a bad, bad, bad idea.”
- Franchot’s is criticizes the move, calling it “a bait and switch on rank-and-file teachers and state employees,” writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com. “It is gaming the system to constantly switch from one system to another.”
- The legislature’s fiscal leaders, in a truly bizarre move, are considering reneging — once again — on a commitment to state workers and the public by pulling the plug on supplemental state contributions to Maryland’s severely underfunded pension program, political pundit Barry Rascovar opines in MarylandReporter.com.
ADDRESSING HEROIN PROBLEM: Statewide heroin overdose deaths have climbed each year since 2010 and could top 500 when statistics for 2014 are finalized, the Sun’s Ian Duncan and Mark Puente report. The problem has also appeared to take on troubling new dimensions, with growing numbers of addicts in suburban and rural areas. But, says Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, the governor’s point man on the heroin issue, previous approaches have been reactions to an increase in overdose deaths. “When you’re taking that approach, you’re really at the end of the line,” he said.
A MORE MODERATE APPROACH: The editorial board for the Post opines that what’s striking in many of Gov. Hogan’s actions — such as on poultry regulation, the Purple Line and the heroin problem — is that as far as they can be judged so far, they may represent a somewhat more conservative approach and seem to suggest more continuity than his acerbic campaign rhetoric might have led Marylanders to expect.
ARMED SCHOOL POLICE: Maryland legislators are considering a controversial bill that would lift restrictions on when police officers could carry their weapons, allowing them to carry them inside schools, an issue that was hotly debated in a Baltimore City School Board public hearing. Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts a panel of experts to talk about the issue.
EMPLOYEE BUYOUTS: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to deal with an $800 million budget gap through employee buyouts is no harebrained scheme to save money. It’s been used often by different levels of government and has produced results.
UBER FIGHT: A battle is brewing over the fate of Uber in Maryland, with two competing ideas proposed for how the ride-hailing Goliath could operate legally within the state’s shifting transportation marketplace, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun.
GOUCHER POLL: WYPR’s Joel McCord talks to Goucher College’s Mileah Kromer about the recently released Goucher Poll. Do voters approve of Gov. Larry Hogan so far? What is the No. 1 issue on Marylanders’ minds? Do individuals see a connection between themselves, pollution and the Chesapeake Bay?
HITLER, REALLY: Senate President Mike Miller really, really hates it when Gov. Larry Hogan says Democrats raised taxes more than 40 times over the past eight years. “Hitler said that the bigger the lie that you tell, the more easily it’s believed,” Miller (D-Calvert) told a group of reporters Friday afternoon. “I’m certainly not equating anyone with Adolf Hitler, but this 48 tax increases over the past eight years is total . . .” reports Jenna Johnson for the Post.
- Miller apologized Friday after he made a comment comparing a frequent claim by Gov. Larry Hogan with Hitler’s “Big Lie,” reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.
WORK-FAMILY BALANCE: Lawmakers with the most compelling stories of separation between their work in Annapolis and their homes in their district tend to be Republicans. That’s because they enjoy a near monopoly on seats in the farthest-flung regions of the state after the 2014 election brought a near wipe-out of rural Democrats. Michael Dresser profiles several of the legislators who must work to balance family and work life. Not all are Republicans nor are all men.
DEL. JALISI HEARING: A temporary protective order issued against a state delegate from Baltimore County appears to be the result of an alleged physical altercation with his 18-year-old daughter over her boyfriend, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.
O’MALLEY ON FINANCIAL REFORM: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley signaled in Myrtle Beach on Saturday that Wall Street regulation would be a major issue in his potential presidential bid, urging Democrats to fight for their principles on that and other defining issues, writes John Wagner from the beach.
- He also said that financial regulation needs to be at the forefront of the 2016 campaign and suggested big banks need to be broken up if they might harm the nation, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.
FIXING PG’S REPUTATION: Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker wants to fix his jurisdiction’s reputation as a bastion of corruption that frightens away potential business development. Baker portrays himself as a reformer trying to fix the mess left by his predecessors, who include Jack B. Johnson, who pleaded guilty to a single count of tampering in June 2011 after taking money from developers to help them land federal contracts.
CLAIMING FUNDS: CNS’s Annika McGinnis writes in a story in the Daily Record that it was Joyce Vann’s lucky day. The Dundalk resident had been walking by a booth that advertised it was “giving away millions” when she thought she’d try her chances — and after her name popped up in the online database listing Marylanders’ lost or forgotten funds, she got $400 in the mail. Vann’s story is just one of many under recently re-elected state Comptroller Peter Franchot’s increased push to “reunite” Marylanders with their lost funds, turned over to the state from forgotten financial accounts.