RESTORING CUTS: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Maryland’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly took steps Wednesday to begin restoring cuts made by Gov. Larry Hogan in his first budget proposal, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the Republican leader over how to shore up the state’s fiscal health.
FLAT REVENUE EXPECTATION: Maryland has no new money to spend, but no need for cuts beyond Gov. Larry Hogan’s January budget proposal, according to revenue estimates released Wednesday. The state Board of Revenue Estimates’ latest projection of how much money Maryland will take in this year and next was unchanged from its December report, the Sun’s Michael Dresser writes.
REFUSING FEDERAL FUNDS: A decision by Gov. Larry Hogan to scuttle either the Red Line or the Purple Line, the long-planned light rail projects in Baltimore City and the Washington suburbs, would be highly unusual because it would involve turning down nearly $2 billion in federal funding, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun.
SHIELDING MINOR OFFENSES: A bill that would allow people convicted of some minor criminal offenses to have those convictions shielded from public view received preliminary approval Wednesday in the Maryland Senate, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post urges passage of the death with dignity bill, writing that “allowing the terminally ill the choice whether to end their lives rather than suffer is the most moral, most compassionate thing we as a society can do.”
QUICKER DIVORCE: Maryland’s long-standing policy to require a year-long wait for most divorces would evaporate under a bill approved by a Senate panel Tuesday afternoon. The Judicial Proceedings Committee passed a bill that would allow couples to dissolve a marriage by mutual consent, bypassing the state’s requirement that couples live apart for a full year before applying for a divorce, Erin Cox is reporting in the Sun.
OFFICERS BILL OF RIGHTS: Det. Jimmy Dulany, in a piece for Center Maryland, writes that the Maryland Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights is a statute that provides police officers due process, prior to their discipline by the police agencies we serve. It does not shield bad police officers from discipline or termination. It does, however, protect officers from politically expedient decisions made with no regard for the facts of an incident, ensuring that officers are provided a full and proper hearing prior to disciplinary action, he says.
TRIPLING THE INJURY CAP: Legislation to triple Maryland’s statutory cap on non-economic damages in civil cases for “catastrophic” injuries drew strong support Wednesday from plaintiffs’ attorneys, who called it just, and condemnation from hospitals and defense lawyers who said the higher potential recovery will come at the cost of patient care and higher consumer costs, Steve Lash of the Daily Record is reporting.
RAIN TAX REPEAL: Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland writes about the truth and consequences of repealing the so-called “rain tax,” which had been a campaign push by Gov. Hogan and also had been a part of Senate President Mike Miller’s recent pledges.
OVERHAULING PUBLIC INFORMATION LAW: The “chilling effect” of the current fees for public information requests in Maryland has spurred lawmakers to propose an overhaul bill that will update the process, writes Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com. Del. Bonnie Cullison and more than 50 other good government and advocacy groups proposed HB755 to would update Maryland’s current Public Information Act. “Currently there’s no uniform fee structure and any agency can charge as much as they want,” said Cullison.
WHISTLEBLOWING: In an op-ed for the Sun, attorney Julie Grohovsky writes that it’s welcome news that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is proposing legislation that will expand Maryland’s False Claims Act (the current law addresses Medicaid fraud only), but the proposed legislation falls short because it lacks a vital element to the success of the federal False Claims Act: a strong, private qui tam provision.
ALTERNATE CERTIFICATION: The General Assembly this week is hearing a Washington County delegation bill that would allow the school board to establish an alternative teacher-certification program, especially to help fill critical vacancies, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Sen. Andrew Serafini said, “the intention is to say — if we have exhausted all the traditional avenues for traditional candidates for a position in the school system and are unable to fill those, then Washington County wants to be able to develop a certification process, a fast track for a temporary situation.”
HOGAN STOPS BY: Gov. Hogan stops by the Press Pit at the State House to speak with the denizens. Here’s the full 13-minute unedited video from the Daily Record’s Bryan Sears’ Facebook page. Hogan talks about the fat heads at the Terps game (no, not the legislators) and other issues with quotes that showed up in multiple stories. According to Facebook, this video has had over 9,500 views.
SMITH RETURNS TO LAW FIRM: Former Baltimore County executive and state transportation secretary Jim Smith has returned to his old law firm. Smith is now of counsel to Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, a Towson-based firm that handles civil litigation, land-use law, business law, government affairs and other cases, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun.
A GOP SENATOR? Campaign consultant Jim Burton, writing in MarylandReporter.com, assesses the possibilities of a Republican winning the upcoming race for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat and who the likely candidates would be.
BROWN JOINS IVEY IN RACE FOR EDWARDS SEAT: The race to succeed U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards in 2016 has drawn two Prince George’s County Democrats with strong name recognition who were on opposite sides of last year’s bitter gubernatorial primary. Besides Glenn Ivey, a former Prince George’s County state’s attorney, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown — who suffered an embarrassing defeat in November to Republican Larry Hogan — will declare himself a candidate today, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post.
- During the gubernatorial election, Brown did perform well in Prince George’s County and likely has high name recognition after spending millions on television advertising in the Washington media market, John Fritze reports for the Sun.
- Ivey said his name recognition after two countywide campaigns and his background on Capitol Hill will allow him to “hit the ground running” in what may be one of the state’s mostly closely watched primaries next year, John Fritze reports in the Sun.
VAN HOLLEN CANDIDATES DROP OUT: Scratch two possible candidates — state Sen. Richard Madaleno of Kensington and County Councilmember Nancy Navarro of Colesville—from the still-expansive field of potential Democratic contenders eyeing the 8th District congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, reports Louis Peck in Bethesda Magazine.
O’MALLEY TRIES TO FILL BREACH: Democrats pining for an alternative to Hillary Rodham Clinton are hungry for a liberal lion, and Martin O’Malley has been doing his best to fill the role. The former Maryland governor has of late called for Wall Street reform and an expansion of Social Security benefits and touted his pro-immigrant and collective-bargaining credentials, reports John Wagner for the Post.
- The one person in politics who seems most reluctant to talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mail is someone who stands to benefit from the continued controversy: her potential Democratic presidential primary rival, Martin O’Malley, writes John Wagner of the Post.
MAYOR WINS DESPITE OPPOSITION: Mayor of tiny Forest Heights appeared Wednesday to have fended off a stiff challenge from a political opponent who had the backing of some of Prince George’s County’s most prominent elected officials, reports Arelis Hernandez for the Post.