April 7, 2015

State Roundup, April 7, 2015

Print More

BUDGET DIFFERENCES: The top budget negotiator for the House of Delegates said her chamber and the Senate could iron out their differences over next year’s spending plan as soon as Tuesday but then must turn to a wider gap between the Democratic-run General Assembly and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

EXTENDING THE SESSION? Gov. Larry Hogan is giving the General Assembly more time, if needed, to resolve differences over a $40.7 billion budget and the amendments he recently made to the spending plan reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. Hogan issued a proclamation Monday saying he would extend the session for no more than 10 days if the budget is not finalized by next Monday, the last day of the regular legislative session.

FRACKING MORATORIUM: The natural gas extraction method known as “fracking” would be banned in Maryland until October 2017 under legislation approved Monday night by the Maryland Senate. By a 45-2 vote, senators sent the measure to the House, which has passed a version of the bill that environmental advocates believe is stronger, Tim Wheeler and Michael Dresser report for the Sun.

PAID SICK LEAVE: Jenna Johnson reports in the Post that Maryland lawmakers have decided not to advance legislation that would have required many businesses to let workers earn as many as seven paid sick days each year. Advocates accused Democrats, who hold majorities in both chambers of the legislature, of only supporting working-class issues during election years.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Senate passed a modified version of Gov. Larry Hogan’s bill to promote charter schools in Maryland Monday night and sent it to the House, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun. Senators voted 46-1 for the measure, which was amended heavily in committee to remove the provisions most strongly opposed by teachers unions and local boards of education. Under what remains of the bill, some charter school operators would gain more control over the selection of principals and give them more control of school management.

PROTECTING FOSTER KIDS: Gov. Larry Hogan says he plans to sign a measure aimed at doing more to prevent foster care children from being returned to abusive biological parents, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post. The bill gives social service agencies the ability to keep children in foster care if there is severe abuse by biological parents or parents do not protect their children from serious mistreatment.

HEROIN FIGHT: Fraser Smith talks to WYPR’s statehouse correspondent, Christopher Connelly, about Gov. Larry Hogan’s intentions to take on the heroin epidemic across the state. Has this General Assembly Session made any progress on the public health issue?

POWDERED ALCOHOL BAN: The Maryland Senate approved legislation Monday night imposing a moratorium on the sale of powdered alcohol for the next two years, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. The 45-2 vote sends the legislation to the House, which is considering a measure that would impose a moratorium for a year and a month. The two chambers would have to agree on a single approach before the measure could become law.

FRESHMEN LEGISLATION: Two freshmen delegates from Frederick County saw the passage of their first pieces of legislation on Friday, one dealing with untested rape kits and the other meant to open up job opportunities for veterans. Del. Karen Lewis Young’s bill would call for a statewide accounting of untested rape kits. Del. David Vogt III has passed legislation that affirms a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration program to help veterans secure commercial driver’s licenses, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

clean energy wind farm

A small group of demonstrators Monday evening were advocating for wind farms, but some proposals face strong headwinds in the legislature.

WIND BARRIERS: The developer of a wind energy project planned for Somerset County has abandoned the proposal, citing the continued opposition of Southern Maryland lawmakers concerned about protecting the work of the naval air station in their region, Timothy Wheeler reports for the Sun.  The decision to halt the project comes as the General Assembly considers legislation that would permanently bar wind turbines from a large swath of the Eastern Shore. And another bill would let Kent County officials block tall turbines there.

TWO PEAS IN A LIBERAL POD: Democratic primary voters should find little difference in political ideology between the two candidates running to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, according to outside analysts. Both U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen are ranked “hard core liberals” by On The Issues, a political website that analyzes policy issues supported by federal, state and local politicians. Glynis Kazanjian looks at the analysis for MarylandReporter.com.

CUMMINGS TAKES TEMPERATURE: Rep. Elijah Cummings, who began his career in the Maryland House of Delegates, returned to Annapolis on Monday night to schmooze with lawmakers about a possible bid for U.S. Senate, writes Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. “I wanted to come through just to show my face and to take the temperature of both houses with regard to where they stood in regards to the Senate race,” Cummings said.

FLOREEN OUT: Veteran at-large County Councilmember Nancy Floreen said that she has decided not to enter the race for the District 8 congressional seat being vacated next year by Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is running for U.S. Senate. But the overall field of Democratic contenders for the District 8 slot continues to expand, Louis Peck reports in Bethesda Magazine.

VOICE FOR AVERAGE VOTER: A senior research scholar at the University of Maryland and a seasoned Maryland political operative are trying to give the average voters more of a say about politics, and have launched an organization designed to restore citizens’ voices to the political process – and lower the partisan temperature on Capitol Hill in the bargain, writes Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland.