REDUCE TAXES, BUT WHICH ONES? House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller have agreed that the state needs to reduce taxes in order to compete for businesses, but they appear divided over whether the state should reduce corporate tax rates, writes Josh Hicks for the Post. Both legislative leaders testified Wednesday in support of bills they proposed to provide tax relief for businesses, telling Senate and House fiscal committees that the measures will help attract and retain private-sector employers.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY BILL DYING: A bill that would allow terminally ill adults in Maryland to take their own lives appears likely to fail in committee for the second straight year, its lead sponsor said Wednesday. Ovetta Wiggins and Arelis Hernandez report in the Post that, with a vote expected today, none of the four lawmakers whose support is needed to move the Death With Dignity Act to the full state Senate appears ready to commit to the measure, Sen. Ron Young (D-Frederick) said.
JUSTICE REINVESTMENT ACT: County jails and health departments want to be sure some of the anticipated $247 million in savings from proposed criminal justice reforms will be funneled to treatment programs, while bill sponsors said savings in corrections costs should make up the difference on their own, reports Danielle Gaines in the Frederick News Post. Senate lawmakers are moving quickly on the Justice Reinvestment Act, which has bipartisan support from the governor’s office to legislative leadership to the chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which considered the bill on Wednesday.
PURPLE LINE UNDER WAY: Gov. Larry Hogan gave the green light to the $3.3 billion Purple Line project Wednesday, naming Purple Line Transit Partners as the contractor to build the 16.2-mile light rail line linking Bethesda with New Carrollton, Michael Neibauer reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat writes that Purple Line Transit Partners is comprised of the global investment firm Meridiam, the engineering and construction company Fluor Enterprises and the infrastructure developer Star America.
MTA AUDIO RECORDING: The Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to legislation that would restrict the use of audio-recording equipment on Maryland Transit Administration buses – a measure that supporters call necessary to protect the privacy of passengers against overzealous calls for security, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record.
SCENIC RR SEEKS FUNDS: Officials with the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad have requested $250,000 in state funding remain in Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 budget for maintenance and upkeep. “This is so the railroad can continue to maintain,” said Robert Flanigan, vice president of the railroad’s board of directors, who also serves as Frostburg mayor. “You know there’s more than buying tickets and riding the train.” Heather Wolford writes the story for the Cumberland Times-News.
EXEMPTION FROM COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Republican delegates from Anne Arundel on Wednesday asked to exempt the county’s community college from legislation that would open the door to collective bargaining for community college employees, Amanda Yeager writes for the Annapolis Capital. They joined more than a dozen other Republicans who took to the House floor to argue their districts should be allowed to opt out of the bill, which they charged could lead to higher tuition rates.
UM PARTNERSHIP: In this video interview, state Sen. Bill Ferguson talks with Damian O’Doherty of Center Maryland about the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016, which would create a structural link between the University of Maryland, College Park and University of Maryland, Baltimore.
RANKING TRANSIT PROJECTS: In what has become a heated partisan debate over the best way to rank transportation projects vying for state funding, Anne Arundel County lawmakers have been front and center, Amanda Yeager reports in the Annapolis Capital. Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, and Sen. Ed DeGrange, D-Millersville, are the main sponsors of a bill that would create a new procedure for ranking the projects, based on a variety of factors that include equitable access to transportation, safety, economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and community vitality.
PRINCE GEORGE’S HOSPITAL: The General Assembly is moving forward with legislation that will require the state to spend money on a new hospital in Prince George’s County, over the objections of the governor, who was trying to work out his own deal on the hospital, Pamela Wood and Michael Dresser of the Sun report.
- A bill mandating that Maryland allocate $15 million in annual operating funds for a transitioning Prince George’s County hospital system was approved in the state Senate on Wednesday despite calls from Republicans that the vote be delayed, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Senate President Mike Miller, who is the sponsor of the bill, said he had hoped the governor would be able to complete a memorandum of understanding with the hospital. That agreement was expected last week, he said.
EDUCATION TAX CREDITS: 700 private school students from across the state saw the legislative process in action when they marched to the State House and urged lawmakers to pass the Maryland Education Credit bills, Alessia Grunberger writes in MarylandReporter.com. Inspired by successful programs in 16 other states, the Maryland Education Credit in SB 706 is designed to address affordability and accessibility concerns that limit a family’s ability to send a child to a private school.
BIKE LOBBY: As more and more cyclists take to the roadways, they have organized into a potent special interest group which has effectively sought to manipulate the coverage of cycling related stories in local media, writes Greg Kline in this commentary for MarylandReporter.com. Simultaneously, the cycling lobby has become quite effective in advancing their agenda at all levels of government.
DNR SEEKS HUNTING RULES INPUT: The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on proposed changes to 2016-2018 hunting and trapping regulations, including adding language clarifying it is illegal to provide false information during the deer and bear and turkey check-in process and creating a set distance that bear and turkey hunters and their prey must be from an artificial feeding/bait source, among others. Christina Jedra writes the story for the Annapolis Capital.
HOGAN IN N.C.: Gov. Larry Hogan has traveled to North Carolina to be at the bedside of a relative who is in hospice care, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. Hogan spokesman Matt Clark said it is unclear when the governor will return to Annapolis, but he remains in charge of state affairs.
VAN HOLLEN SPEAKS: Tom Hall of WYPR-FM interviews U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen who is running for Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat. He has represented Maryland’s 8th congressional district since 2003. Hall talks with Van Hollen about the issues that will face a new Senate and a new president in 2017, and about his vision for Maryland and the country.
PARROTT BACKS CRUZ: Are you concerned about how illegal immigration is hurting our country but want to know which presidential candidate we can trust to enforce our immigration laws? asks state Del. Neil Parrott in a letter to the editor of the Sun. Sen. Ted Cruz, he writes, earned the highest rating for immigration enforcement from NumbersUSA out of all of the current presidential candidates, with an A score. Contrast that with Mr. Rubio’s ranking of D.
CARSON OUT: Ben Carson, the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon whose campaign for the Republican presidential nomination stalled months ago, said Wednesday that he does not “see a political path forward” and announced that he is bowing out of presidential debates, John Fritze writes for the Sun.
SPONG REPLACEMENT: Calling him a “stellar candidate,” the chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee said Wednesday that Wayne Keefer “hit the ball out of the park” during his interview to be the next Washington County commissioner. He also interviewed for the job last April when the panel chose Woody Spong, who served for about nine months before resigning in January amid mounting scrutiny over his behavior during the interim appointment. Letters announcing the committee’s choice were being sent to Gov. Larry Hogan, Hogan’s appointments office and county Republican Sens. Andrew Serafini and George Edwards, CJ Lovelace reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.