HOGAN PUSHES TAX CUTS: Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he will propose $400 million in tax cuts over the next five years and wants to change state budget law to automatically reduce mandated spending increases if revenue levels drop, writes Josh Hicks for the Post.
- Hogan said he will ask the General Assembly to grant “modest” tax cuts to working families, small businesses and retirees. But the Republican governor offered no details on his proposed cuts nor on how he would pay for them, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.
- Speaking in the governor’s State House reception room, Hogan announced a $17.1 billion spending plan with a “rainy day” fund balance of $1.1 billion. The proposal would include a $445 million cash balance entering the next spending year, Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital report.
- Hogan wants tax cuts for 300,000 small businesses over five years. The proposal is part of $400 million in tax and fee cuts Hogan wants that would also affect 1 million Marylanders, writes Rick Seltzer for the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Hogan said the mandated spending legislation would be in addition to what he said was $600 million in reduced fees and tolls, which also includes refunds related to a Supreme Court decision. The announcement drew swift criticism from Maryland Democrats, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.
- In an unusual preview of next year’s budget not due for weeks, Gov. Larry Hogan drew the line for legislators already planning to spend more money than he wants. Hogan said he will spend every dollar the law forces him to do through legislative mandates and formulas, but he won’t spend any more even if the legislature tries to force him by “fencing off” extra spending, much as they did on $68 million in school aid last year, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.
- In outlining his spending plan, Hogan said he wants to take more control of the budget process as a way of steering Maryland toward long-term fiscal health, the AP is reporting in the Easton Star-Democrat.
HOGAN WON’T TOUCH SOME O’MALLEY INITIATIVES: Gov. Larry Hogan acknowledged Thursday that he will not renew his effort to roll back the gas tax increases put in place by former Gov. Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly — money Hogan is now using for a $2 billion highway-building program and a proposed increase in state aid for local road projects. Hogan, a Republican, also ruled out any effort to scale back O’Malley’s hotly contested 2013 gun control law despite calls from conservatives in his party for him to launch what would almost certainly be a futile effort, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.
EX-OFFENDER VOTING RIGHTS: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM discusses ex-offender voting rights in Maryland and what changes may come about in the General Assembly. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record, Del. Cory McCray, who sponsored ex-offender voting rights legislation last session, which was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan; and Clayton Guyton, a former correctional officer are on the panel.
NOTEWORTHY MARYLANDERS: Political commentator Richard Cross writes, in Center Maryland, about noteworthy people and politicians in 2015, then he names his choice for Marylander of the Year.
WHAT VETOES TO OVERRIDE: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that while the General Assembly is poised to overturn Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes from last year, there is only one that should be overridden — and that concerned the decriminalization of marijuana paraphernalia.
PREPARE FOR BIRD FLU: Michel Elben of the Carroll County Times writes that Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder has warned that “bird flu” could arrive in Maryland this spring. The MDA advises all poultry producers, both commercial and hobby, to remain vigilant about highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu or HPAI.
UMMS BOARD: Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed six new members to the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors that span the business, philanthropic and medical communities. The new appointees who will help set the direction for the non-profit health system, which includes 12 hospitals, will serve five-year terms, writes Andrea McDaniels in the Sun. None appears to be a woman.
HOGAN REACHES OUT TO BALTIMORE: Fraser Smith, in a column for the Daily Record, writes about Gov. Hogan’s Nixonian outreach to the city of Baltimore after his killing of the Red Line.
NEW JUDGE JUMPS IN: New Maryland high-court Judge Michele D. Hotten took her seat on the bench Thursday morning and did not let her first case go by without asking a question of counsel, jumping right into the fray, writes Steve Lash in the Daily Record.
DELANEY TACKLES IRAN: Rep. John Delaney on Thursday became the latest Democrat to call for tougher U.S. sanctions on Iran in response to Tehran’s recent ballistic missile tests — and the second-term lawmaker wants to press the issue through legislation. Delaney, of Potomac, introduced a bill with Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts to prohibit the transfer of ballistic missiles or advanced weaponry to Iran, just as a growing number of lawmakers within the president’s own party are seeking a stronger U.S. response to Iran’s missile tests, writes John Fritze for the Sun.
EX-SUBMARINER CHALLENGES HARRIS: A 25-year-old former Navy submariner said Thursday he will run as a Libertarian in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, challenging incumbent Rep. Andy Harris’ positions on marijuana and foreign engagement, writes John Fritze for the Sun. Matt Beers, an Elkton native who is pursuing a degree in secondary education at Cecil College, joined the Navy in 2009 and served aboard the USS Hartford, attaining the rank of petty officer second class.
LEGGETT CAMPAIGNS FOR COUNTY LIQUOR SYSTEM: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett once again made the case against ending the county’s control of alcohol distribution Wednesday night at the first of five public forums on the next fiscal year’s operating budget. Leggett said the county already may need to reduce spending by 11.5% to balance the 2017 budget and that the loss of up to $30 million in profit generated by the county’s Department of Liquor Control would make the situation worse, Aaron Kraut of Bethesda Beat reports.
CITY ELECTIONS: WYPR-FM Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith and Luke Broadwater, of the Baltimore Sun, talk about upcoming Baltimore City elections and the possibility of large scale turnover on the City Council.