March 31, 2015

State Roundup, March 31, 2015

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VIETNAM VETS HONORED: Gov. Larry Hogan signed his first bill into law on Monday afternoon, officially making March 30 “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.” The commemorative day recognizes the millions of Americans who served in the military during the Vietnam War, including the more than 1,000 Marylanders who died, writes Jenna Johnson in the Post.

Bill Signing Hogan Miller Busch

Gov. Larry Hogan signs his first bill, with senators and veterans behind him. Seated at the table from left, Secretary of State John Wobensmith, Secretary of the Senate William Addison, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Senate President Mike Miller, Gov. Hogan, House Speaker Michael Busch, and Chief Clerk of the House Sylvia Siegert.

NOMINEE BLOCKED: A Maryland Senate committee blocked Gov. Larry Hogan’s nominee to head the state’s Higher Education Commission on Monday after questions were raised about her management abilities, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee, said Monday that he decided not to bring Jennie Hunter-Cevera’s nomination to the committee for a vote because it was “not in anyone’s interest.”

TWO WEEKS TO GO: As funding for the Footer Dye Works redevelopment project continues to move forward in the capital budget, state lawmakers are making progress on efforts to cut Maryland’s structural deficit, according to Del. Wendell Beitzel. Beitzel gave an interview Monday to the Cumberland Times-News on the status of the Maryland General Assembly session that adjourns April 13 writes Greg Larry of the paper.

PAID SICK LEAVE BILL AILING: A bill that would have required Maryland employers to offer paid sick leave to workers won’t survive this year reports WBFF-TV. The bill would have mandated that businesses provide employees with up to seven paid sick days each year. Sen. Catherine Pugh, the bill’s sponsor, says she’s still determined to have a paid sick bill enacted next year.

WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY: State legislators from the Eastern Shore are looking to the sky as a way to improve the economy, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.  A resolution sponsored by Sen. James Mathias, and an identical resolution in the House of Delegates, calls on NASA and the federal government to undertake an environmental impact study that they hope will be the first step to using the Wallops Flight Facility to launch, land and reuse booster rockets from commercial space travel.

COURT CAPS POLICE DAMAGES: Maryland’s Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a cap on monetary awards in lawsuits against local governments, turning back an effort to collect $11.5 million awarded to the family of a Prince George’s County man fatally shot by police. The ruling means Prince George’s County has to pay only $400,000 in the case stemming from the 2008 shooting of Manuel Espina, writes Mark Puente in the Sun.

FROSH ON OFF-SHORE DRILLING: Attorney General Brian Frosh has registered his “strong opposition” to permitting oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic coast, warning it could harm Maryland’s beaches and the Chesapeake Bay. Timothy Wheeler writes in the Sun that in comments filed with the U.S Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Frosh said exploration and drilling along the coast south of Maryland threaten the state’s “irreplaceable natural resources” and “could wreak havoc on coastal communities for hundreds of miles.

POOLE FOR DEM PARTY CHAIR? Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that as Democratic legislators gird for their final two weeks of battle with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, their presiding officers – along with other top elected Democrats – appear to have settled on a former lawmaker to take over as state party chairman and lead the long-term fight against Hogan: Bruce Poole.

TAKING HIS MESS TO D.C.: Richard Douglas, a Prince George’s attorney and former U.S. Senate candidate, writes in the National Review, that taxpayers abandoned his state in droves during his tenure as governor, but that’s not dampening the presidential aspirations of Martin O’Malley. In 2014, his final year in office as governor, Maryland had the second-highest foreclosure rate in the nation. Now he wants to ride this embarrassing record to the White House

  • O’Malley, just a week removed from a well-received and heavily covered trip to Iowa, made headlines for his nationally-televised comments on Sunday writes Sean Welsh in the Sun.

SECURING SOCIAL SECURITY: With Social Security trust funds predicted to run out in less than 20 years, legislators from the Democrat and Republican parties have introduced legislation to delve into the problem and offer solutions — importantly, the legislation would require an eventual up or down vote by Congress to save the trust fund, according to Cumberland Times News staff reports. “We need to protect and preserve Social Security for generations to come and that’s the singular aim of this legislation, to guarantee Social Security keeps working for the next 75 years,” said Democrat District 6 U.S. Rep. John Delaney, who is the co-sponsor of the Social Security Commission Act of 2015.

REMEMBERING OKINAWA: Twenty years ago, Len Lazarick went to Okinawa with his father, Len Lazarick Sr., for the 50th anniversary of the battle, and wrote about it for the Towson Times and other Patuxent Publishing newspapers. For the 70th anniversary, MarylandReporter.com is republishing three of those stories, putting them up on the Internet for the first time exactly as they were written then.