State Roundup, September 25, 2015

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DEMS HOPE TO FREE UP SPENDING: Budget Secretary David Brinkley resisted calls for austerity relief from Democrats on Thursday despite higher-than-anticipated revenue projections, an indication that the partisan spending battles that dominated this year’s legislative session could continue in 2016, Josh Hicks reports in the Post.

  • Democratic lawmakers at a Maryland budget panel on Thursday urged representatives of Gov. Larry Hogan to use millions in unexpected state revenue to bolster supplemental schools funding. Marissa Horn of CNS writes for MarylandReporter.com that teachers’ unions and public education advocates sent a letter to Hogan Thursday morning asking for the release of $68 million for this year’s school funding.
  • Legislative fiscal leaders played “Let’s Make a Deal” and dangled an offer to provide $75 million in supplemental pension funding in return for an agreement to release $68 million in additional education funding, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The proposed horse-trade, which would include Republican Gov. Larry Hogan releasing funds for Prince George’s Hospital Center, came as the House Appropriations and Senate Budget and Taxation Committees were briefed on the state’s financial picture that includes better than expected revenues and lower than budgeted state spending.

FEDS GRANT $1M FOR RIOT POLICE OT: Maryland will receive more than $1 million in federal grant money to help pay for police overtime during the April unrest over the death of Freddie Gray. U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Rep. Elijah Cummings on Thursday announced the grant funding, which will go to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention for distribution, Colin Campbell writes for the Sun.

CLEVELAND MAYOR DISPUTES BWI CHIEF’S CLAIMS: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is disputing allegations that budget cuts left that city’s airport with too few workers and led to federal fines over runway safety, as claimed this week by the airport’s former manager, who now runs BWI Marshall Airport.

LAWMAKERS QUESTION STATE FUNDING OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD: State Sen. Michael Hough and Del. Barrie Ciliberti said they’re disgusted with videos that  an anti-abortion group released about Planned Parenthood’s abortion services. The videos show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the process the organization uses to coordinate the donation of fetal tissue after abortions, and how it collects organs for donation. Hough and Ciliberti wrote a letter to state Budget Secretary David Brinkley on Sept. 10 asking questions about the state’s funding of Planned Parenthood, Jen Fifield reports for the Frederick News Post.

HOGAN BLESSED BY POPE: Gov. Larry Hogan said he received a special blessing from Pope Francis Thursday on behalf of cancer patients, writes Erin Cox for the Sun. “It couldn’t come at a better time for me,” Hogan, who completed his fifth round of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Tuesday, said in an interview. “I was getting thousands of prayers, but it doesn’t get much better than getting a blessing from the pope.”

Gov. Larry Hogan and wife Yumi send off Pope Francis as he departs for New York from Joint Base Andrews in Prince George's County. Photo by Governor's Office.

Gov. Larry Hogan and wife Yumi send off Pope Francis as he departs for New York from Joint Base Andrews in Prince George’s County. Photo by Governor’s Office.

LAWMAKERS REACT TO POPE’S HOUSE SPEECH: WBAL’s Mary Beth Marsden spoke with Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin as well as U.S. Rep. Andy Harris to get their reactions to Pope Francis’ historic speech in the House Chamber. Click here for the links to all three interviews.

MIKULSKI ESCORTS POPE: Sen. Barbara Mikulski  was among a bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress who served on a papal escort committee during Pope Francis’s historic address to a Joint session of Congress. Prior to the Pope’s address, Mikulski and members of the Papal Escort Committee greeted the Holy Father and followed him into the House chamber, according to the Daily Times.

BOOST CYBER COMMUNITY FOR ECON DEVELOPMENT: Maryland’s business community could become more competitive by further bolstering the cyber community, economic development leaders said yesterday. Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Mike Gill and Norm Augustine, chairman of the state’s Economic Development and Business Climate Commission, were keynote speakers at the Fort Meade Alliance’s Cyber Competitiveness Breakfast Thursday, Shantee Woodards reports in the Annapolis Capital.

FIX INFRASTRUCTURE: Don Fry of Center Maryland writes that if you drive any distance around Interstate-695, chances are you’ll cross a highway overpass bridge that is not only outdated but what engineers refer to as “nearing the end of its structural life.” This crumbling transportation infrastructure isn’t limited to the heavily used beltway either. There are outdated bridges in need of updating throughout the Baltimore region, and indeed statewide. The bottom line is this: Not only are motorists’ lives at risk on the roads, but we are losing our global competitive edge in business as we let our vital major infrastructure slip to  second rate and stay that way.

BRYANT DROPS CONGRESSIONAL RACE: Prominent Baltimore pastor Jamal Bryant has ended his congressional bid, a little over a week after declaring he would run for the House seat held by Rep. Elijah Cummings. He had said he believed the congressman would run for Senate. In ending his bid, Bryant said he now thinks Cummings will stay in the House, writes Rachel Weiner for the Post.

SUN HEADLINE: REEFER MADNESS: A Sun editorial says Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh’s effort to effectively ban medical marijuana facilities in his county through the zoning code is not only alarmist and prejudicial, it is also probably illegal.

CORRECTION: In Thursday’s Roundup a headline should have said AG SAYS COUNTY CAN’T BAN RX POT