March 24, 2015

State Roundup, March 24, 2015

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BUDGET: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s first budget is working its way through the Maryland General Assembly, with lawmakers altering it before a final vote at the end of the 2015 session.Kaustav Basu reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail that Washington County Del. Neil Parrot was one of only 10 who voted against the budget.

MANDATORY SENTENCES: The House of Delegates voted Monday night to drop the state’s 10-year mandatory term for a second conviction for dealing drugs, deciding to give trial judges the discretion to set the sentence. Michael Dresser reports in the Sun that the 85-55 vote followed a sharp debate during which lawmakers questioned the wisdom of easing sentences at a time when Maryland has seen a large increase in heroin overdose deaths.

DEATH AND EDUCATION: This week, the Maryland legislature is expected to take up two controversial topics that have been tied up in committees: right-to-die legislation and Gov. Larry Hogan’s bill to expand charter schools. Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

ANOTHER CROSSOVER DAY: The crossover day for the state’s General Assembly — the deadline by which one chamber must send to the other those bills it expects to pass or already has passed — has been pushed back from yesterday to today, though the effect on Carroll County legislation is expected to be minimal, writes Wiley Hayes for the Carroll County  Times.

PAROLEES & POT: People on parole or probation in Maryland who use or possess small amounts of marijuana would no longer be in violation of their sentences under a bill that was narrowly approved by the House of Delegates on Monday, the Post’s Ovetta Wiggins and Jenna Johnson report.

PUBLIC INFORMATION:  Major changes are in the works for getting public records from state and local governments in Maryland designed to make the process easier, more uniform and less expensive. According to MarylandReporter.com, in a unanimous vote, a Senate committee brought legislation to the floor Monday night that will create a new Public Information Act Compliance Board to oversee fees.

FRACKING MORATORIUM: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record takes to Twitter to report the House fracking debate, in which the moratorium on fracking permits was changed from eight years to three.

POWDERED BOOZE BAN? Sarah Gantz of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that Maryland lawmakers are considering a one-year ban on powdered alcohol, the latest fad beverage expected to hit liquor store shelves this summer. A bill (HB1288) introduced by Baltimore County Del. Dan Morhaim would prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol through June 2016.

HIGH STAKES FOR NEW FBI HQ: Maryland and Prince George’s County are willing to guarantee hundreds of millions of dollars on road improvements to try to lure the FBI to Prince George’s, instead of suburban Virginia, when the agency relocates from downtown Washington, writes Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

  • Hogan and his Cabinet met with the 10-member delegation for more than 90 minutes to discuss not only the governor’s concerns at the state level but also review 129 requests to the federal government for projects in nearly every agency in state government. But Hogan and others said they are focused on bringing the new FBI headquarters and its 11,000 employees to the Washington, D.C., suburbs, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
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Gov. Larry Hogan and his cabinet met with Maryland’s congressional delegation Monday to discuss the relocation of the FBI headquarters and other state priorities.

PURPLE LINE:  With construction slated to begin later this year, and significant transportation and economic development benefits at stake for our entire region, there is a strong case to be made for the Purple Line writes Richard Parsons in an opinion piece in MarylandReporter.com. Gov. Hogan and his team are right to look for additional cost savings, but their decision on the Purple Line itself should be based on its merits, not the questionable arithmetic and general philosophical aversion to transit.

DYSLEXIA BILLS: A group of parents and teachers are advocating for the passage of state legislation that would create task forces related to dyslexia reports Sarah Fleischman in the Calvert Recorder. A bill to establish a task force to study the implementation of a dyslexia education program is awaiting the signature of Gov. Larry Hogan, according to a news release from Decoding Dyslexia Maryland. Another bill in the House would establish a task force to study effectiveness of teacher education programs in the instruction of reading.

RASKIN IS RUNNING: State Sen. Jamie Raskin of Montgomery County said Monday that he has decided to run for the Democratic nomination for the 8th District congressional seat next year. Michael Dresser reports in the Sun that Raskin will formally announce his race to succeed U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in April.

DONNA EDWARDS:  Filling the shoes of retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski is going to be tough, but Congresswoman Donna Edwards, a leading voice among progressives, says she’s up to the task reports Glynis Kazajian in MarylandReporter.com. She’s the right gender and becoming Maryland’s first African American senator would fit historically with “Senator Barb’s” long list of firsts, including being the first Democratic woman elected “in her own right” to the U.S. Senate and the first woman elected to the Senate in Maryland.

VAN HOLLEN AND SOCIAL SECURITY: In a column, Fred Hiatt, editor of the Washington Post editorial page, writes about how the Democratic left has been drawn into the no compromise approach of the Republican right on issues such as Social Security and Medicare, including legislators who should know better such as Rep. Chris Van Hollen, making a bid for the U.S. Senate.

OFFICER WHO AIDED WALLACE DIES: Former Laurel Police Chief Archie Cook, who as a Laurel police lieutenant aided Democratic presidential candidate George Wallace after an assassination attempt in the Laurel Shopping Center in 1972, died March 21 in Pennsylvania. Cook was a program coordinator for the Leadership Development Institute at the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions in Sykesville, Melanie Dzwonchyk of the Laurel Leader reports.