April 16, 2015

State Roundup, April 16, 2015

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JAIL FOOD CONTRACT: Rebecca Lessner of MarylandReporter.com writes that the fear of hungry inmates rioting at the Baltimore City Detention Center prompted top state officials to approve an emergency contract with a food vendor that had seriously underbid its three-year contract. “We can’t wake up tomorrow morning and not serve food to the prisoners and have a riot on our hands,” said Gov. Larry Hogan at the Wednesday Board of Public Works meeting.

BUSCH BLASTED: Hard feelings from the just-finished legislative session spilled over into the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday, as Gov. Larry Hogan used his seat as chairman to call out House Speaker Michael Busch. “I’m not going to allow the petulant and unprecedented action by the Speaker, ignoring our supplemental budget, to go,” said Hogan, addressing a representative from the Maryland State Police who was testifying on police radios. Rebecca Lessner writes the story for MarylandReporter.com.

  • Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, presiding over the biweekly meeting of the state’s spending board, complained that the Democrat-dominated legislature “knocked our budget out of whack,” making it harder to close a structural deficit. Hogan then thanked Comptroller Peter Franchot, another member of the three-person Board of Public Works, for siding with him in criticizing Democratic lawmakers for “robbing” state workers’ pensions, as Hogan put it, writes Timothy Wheeler for the Sun.

LARRY HOGAN’S WAY: Gov. Larry Hogan has unnecessarily dug himself a hole with the leadership of the General Assembly, opines Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland. He may still find a compromise on the budget although right now that seems unlikely.  However, if he doesn’t make a more serious effort to work with the General Assembly, it’s going to be a long four years, and definitely not eight years.

DYSFUNCTION IN ANNAPOLIS: A Washington Post editorial blames legislators more than Hogan for the “dysfunction in Annapolis.”

  • Like the Post, the Cumberland Times-News editorial says: “Maryland Democratic leaders could have — no, should have — learned a lesson from last year’s election results. Instead, they resisted Gov. Larry Hogan’s efforts to address state pension system shortfalls and future budget deficits.”

HEROIN PROBLEM: More people in Maryland died of heroin overdoses last year than were murdered, according to law enforcement officials who appeared Wednesday before a state heroin and opioid emergency task force. John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that the panel was formed by Gov. Larry Hogan in the wake of an alarming increase in the number of drug overdoses and deaths.

PHARMACY BILL: A bill that aimed to expand access to pharmacy care for United Healthcare Community Plan Medicaid enrollees made its way through the legislature Monday, the last day of the General Assembly’s 90-day session, Josh Bollinger writes for the Easton Star Democrat.

MO CO BILLS: Gov. Hogan signed 10 local bills put forth by Montgomery County’s House delegation. The majority of these bills — which do not apply in other jurisdictions around the state — were designed to increase consumer options, at least incrementally, in the purchase of alcoholic beverages, writes Louis Peck for Bethesda Magazine.

AN UNUSUAL CITATION: Manchester Valley High School senior Natalie Singer didn’t know what her government teacher was talking about Wednesday. A document had arrived for her from Annapolis? The teacher handed her an envelope, which contained an official citation that had been read in the House of Delegates Monday night in the hectic final hours of the 90-day legislative session. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes about the unusual citation.

TRADING IN THE SEAL: Del. Kevin Hornberger came to the Rising Sun town meeting Tuesday to trade in something that hung on the wall of his Annapolis office this past session. Hornberger, who just completed his first 90-day session in the Maryland General Assembly, asked the mayor and commissioners for an updated version of the Rising Sun town seal, Jane Bellmyer writes in the Cecil Whig.

DWYER ORDER TO PAY VICTIM: Former state Del. Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel County was ordered to pay $92,000 to one of the victim of a 2012 boat crash in which the lawmaker was drunk at the time of the accident, according to WMAR-TV.

EDWARDS ENDORSED: When Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed the Senate candidacy of U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen last week, it triggered a discussion about race, writes Arelis Hernández in the Post. On Wednesday, a group of politicians in the county threw their support behind the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, sparking a conversation about gender. Women hold five of the nine seats on the Prince George’s County Council.

EDWARDS, VAN HOLLEN BACK IMMIGRATION REFORM: The two Democratic candidates running for Senate in Maryland told several hundred people gathered at a rally in Prince George’s County on Wednesday that they support comprehensive immigration reform, but they offered few ideas for how that goal could become a reality, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

CUMMINGS’ POLL: A poll of Maryland Democrats commissioned by Rep. Elijah Cummings shows him ahead of the two declared candidates in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Rachel Weiner of the Post writes. The March poll shows Cummings supported by 29% of likely primary voters, followed by Rep. Donna Edwards with 23% and Rep. Chris Van Hollen with 22%.

DERECK DAVIS TO SEEK EDWARDS’ SEAT: The chair of Maryland’s powerful House of Delegates economic matters committee said Wednesday that he will compete for the congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, who is running for U.S. Senate. Del. Dereck Davis will join a crowded field of Democratic candidates that includes former Prince George’s state’s attorney Glenn Ivey, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk and former county council member Ingrid Turner, Arelis Hernández reports in the Post.

IVEY OUTRAISES BROWN: Former Prince George’s County state’s attorney Glenn Ivey has raised more than twice as much campaign cash in his bid for the 4th Congressional District as his leading rival, former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, disclosure reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission show.

UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT: Montgomery County officials are investigating allegations by employees at the Department of Economic Development that acting director Sally Sternbach has fostered a hostile work environment marked by “persistent inappropriate and intimidating behavior,” Bill Turque reports in the Post.

CHIEF JUSTICE REPORTS FOR DUTY: One potential juror who was considered for a civil trial in Montgomery County on Wednesday morning could have brought a lot to the jury room. He’s the chief justice of the United States. John Roberts showed up for jury duty in Rockville like other civic-minded citizens and was being considered for a civil trial in a case involving a car crash, Dan Morse and Robert Barnes report in the Post.