April 14, 2015

State Roundup, April 14, 2015

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A BUDGET, WITH ACRIMONY:The legislative session that began with pledges of bipartisanship ended Monday night with General Assembly Democrats and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan embroiled in acrimony over Maryland’s budget, Erin Cox, Michael Dresser and Timothy Wheeler report for the Sun.

HOGAN PRAISES BIPARTISANSHIP: Gov. Larry Hogan ended his first 90-day General Assembly session praising the Democratic controlled legislature for working in a bipartisan fashion, Bryan Sears is reporting in the Daily Record. “We had ins and outs here and there but overall we accomplished things in a bipartisan fashion,” Hogan said minutes before both the House and Senate closed out the 2015 session.

LEARNING ABOUT LARRY: If we’ve learned one thing about Gov. Larry Hogan (R) during his first 83 days in office, it’s that he’s a man of contradictions, writes opinionmaker Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland. At one moment, he’s the great conciliator, nodding to the realities of divided government – reaching out to Democratic leaders, preaching bipartisanship and expressing satisfaction with the gradual progress he’s made in achieving his goals. The next moment, he’s the impatient partisan, boasting again (and again) about his mandate to change Annapolis, and attempting to bully Democrats in the General Assembly to get his way.

Miller sine die big head

At midnight Monday, as confetti continues to fall on the Senate rostrum and Senate President Mike Miller, pages lower an oversized head of the nation’s longest serving legislative presiding officer.

STORMWATER FEES: WBAL-TV is reporting that state-mandated stormwater fees would end under a bill headed to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk. The House voted 138-1 to the bill Monday night, and the Senate unanimously approved some changes by the House.

  • Rebecca Lessner reports for MarylandReporter.com that a lone legislator let his disapproval rain down on House delegates the last night of session. “There are people who believe that what we are doing is repealing the rain tax,” said Del. Richard Impallaria, R-Baltimore and Harford. “They are still going to get a rain tax bill, every single year.” But it will be optional, mandated locally and stormwater still must be managed.

LIABILITY CAP RAISED: The General Assembly passed legislation in the final hour of its 2015 session to raise to $400,000 the liability cap for state, county and local governments for negligent acts that injure people. The legislature also increased to $800,000 the cap on a county or local government’s liability on any single claim, regardless of the number of plaintiffs, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

A SETTLED DIVORCE: The Maryland General Assembly on Monday passed legislation to enable married couples without minor children to divorce through settlement agreement and forgo the state’s one-year separation requirement before terminating a marriage, Steve Lash of the Daily Record is reporting.

POLICE TRANSPARENCY: With her proposed legislation headed to defeat in Annapolis to make it easier to discipline police officers, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she is still committed to getting more bad officers off the streets in Baltimore, the Sun’s Mark Puente reports.

COMMERCIAL RIDE-SHARING: The Maryland House of Delegates and Senate voted Monday to make commercial ride-sharing legal in the state. The “Uber” legislation now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan for approval, writes Luz Lazo for the Post.

CRUDE SHIPMENTS STUDY: A bill that would have required the Maryland Department of the Environment to study the risks of increasingly common crude oil rail shipments through the state has stalled in the Senate after passing in the House, and will not move forward, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun. The Senate finance committee chose to take no action on the measure Monday, the last day of the legislative session.

CROWNSVILLE STUDY: As debate swirled over the budget a final piece of legislation local to Anne Arundel County passed in the General Assembly. House Bill 27 will create a task force to research and report on the disposition of Crownsville Hospital Center, Chase Cook reports for the Annapolis Capital.

PHOTO FINISH: Photographer Maximilian Franz shot a gallery of images of the last regularly scheduled day of the legislative session for the Daily Record. You can view them here.

NO TAX BREAKS: Mark Reutter, in an analysis for Baltimore Brew, writes that Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who promised tax breaks for homeowners from casino revenues, now calls for a “pause” as first-year Horseshoe Casino lease payments tank.

SPOTLIGHT ON CARDIN: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that with the five-term U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski in retirement mode, Ben Cardin, the man who replaced Paul Sarbanes after that long-serving senator’s retirement in 2006, has quietly stepped into the national spotlight on two very different fronts — as the Obama administration’s point man in the Senate on the Iran nuclear negotiations and as a provocative big-idea man on tax reform.

MOSELEY BRAUN BACKS EDWARDS: Carol Moseley Braun, the first and only African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, has endorsed Rep. Donna Edwards in Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary, writes Rachel Weiner for the Post.

CUMMINGS UNDECIDED ON RUN: U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said Monday that a poll he has conducted shows him leading in the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski. But he said he is still undecided about whether he will seek the seat, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

CARSON’S RUN: In a week of 2016 presidential hopefuls weighing and announcing their candidacies, Dr. Ben Carson is keeping his name in the conversation. Colin Campbell of the Sun reports that the former Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon said in a post on Facebook Monday that he will return to his hometown of Detroit next month to announce whether he will seek the Republican nomination.