State Roundup, March 9, 2016

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BUDGET BROUHAHA: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan accused the Democrat-controlled General Assembly of disregarding his request to limit new spending, saying Tuesday that proposed legislation in Annapolis flies in the face of what voters want, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser report for the Sun.

  • Budget Secretary David Brinkley sparred with Democratic legislators Tuesday over the Hogan administration’s proposal to gain relief from legislative spending mandates that exceed projected revenues. Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter.com reports that prior to Brinkley’s testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, he joined Gov. Larry Hogan at a press conference in which the governor defended the initiative.
  • Tension over the issue flared Tuesday, shortly before the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on Hogan’s plan for relief from mandated spending increases. The governor appeared at a news conference to criticize Democrats for waiting until after the halfway point of the 2016 legislative session to take up the proposal, Josh Hicks of the Post is reporting.
  • A portion of Hogan’s bill that would limit mandated spending increases within the state budget is unconstitutional, according to an advisory by an attorney to the General Assembly. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the email is part of a larger debate between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who is seeking the limitations when projected spending exceeds projected revenues, and the Democratic majority legislature.
Gov. Larry Hogan held a reception Tuesday night for wounded veterans.

Gov. Larry Hogan held a reception Tuesday night for wounded veterans.

TRIMMING THE EDGES: Senators on the budget committee on Tuesday began doing the only things they can do with Gov. Larry Hogan’s $42.3 billion budget — cutting it around the edges and fencing off money for special purposes, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. That included a $58 million cut in Medicaid reimbursement to health care providers — based on lower enrollment estimates — and cutting part of Hogan’s modest legislative agenda, $3 million for Early Graduation Scholarships for students who complete high school in three years or less.

POLLUTING RENEWABLES: More than one-third of the renewable electricity Marylanders buy comes from incinerating trash, wood and a thick sludge that is a byproduct of the paper-making industry — sources that send greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants into the air. Yet the incineration plants net tens of millions of dollars through a state program intended to promote solar and wind projects. Some environmentalists say that amounts to subsidizing pollution, and they want the state to redefine what energy sources it considers “renewable” as it works to shift dependence toward new, clean technologies, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

RIGHTS OF DISABLED PARENTS: Advocates for the disabled pressed Tuesday for passage of a law to ensure that a parent’s disability would not count against him or her in child-in-need-of-assistance cases without “clear and convincing” evidence that he or she cannot, even with supportive aids, provide proper care to the youngster due to the disability, reports Steve Lash of the Daily Record.

NO PARENTAL RIGHTS FOR RAPISTS: Maryland legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit rapists from petitioning courts for parental rights if their victims become pregnant and give birth, John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports. The Rape Survivor Family Protection Act is sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who represents Montgomery County.

PATH TO EMPLOYMENT: Stephanie Good said she served time in prison because she could not find and keep a job. Now she can’t find a job because she served time in prison. Good said employers recently rescinded two job offers because of her criminal background. Good and other advocates rallied Tuesday in support of bills they say would remove barriers to employment for ex-offenders by expanding expungement policies, Capital News Service’s Lexie Schapitl reports.

GUN ADVOCATES TO RALLY: Supporters and opponents of stricter gun regulations will converge on Annapolis today as legislators prepare to hear testimony on more than a dozen gun-related bills, Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports. Nearly 200 Second Amendment advocates plan to attend a rally to “shut down Annapolis” in defense of gun owners’ rights, according to a posting about the event on Facebook. Meanwhile, a group supporting the reforms has about 25 people signed up for a day of lobbying for what they say is the “silent majority” of Marylanders who want more restrictions on guns.

ANTI-ABORTION MARCH: About 1,200 participated in a March for Life at the Maryland State House on Monday, writes Erik Zygmont for the Catholic Review.

PARITY FOR HOLLYWOOD CASINO: Of the several Cecil County bills heard by House and Senate committees on Tuesday afternoon, one seeking tax parity for Hollywood Casino Perryville drew the most discussion, with several members questioning the level of parity in casinos, Jacob Owens of the Cecil Whig reports.

ON THE SESSION: Tom Hall and Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM assess the General Assembly now in its midpoint of this year’s 90-day session, and what legislation has come up and what will likely pass.

CITY LIQUOR BOARD & ANNAPOLIS: The conflict over the direction of the city liquor board deepened Monday as a Senate committee refused to confirm three of Gov. Larry Hogan’s appointees as commissioner and a powerful senator introduced legislation that could force him to appoint new members, Michael Dresser and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.

HOGAN STEERS CLEAR OF PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS: Gov. Larry Hogan declined to say who he supports for president during a news conference in Annapolis Tuesday. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that when asked if he would support Donald Trump if the controversial front-runner won the Republican nomination, Hogan deflected. “Quite frankly, I’m completely disgusted with national politics in both parties — Democrats and Republicans,” Hogan said. “I’m not paying much attention. I’m trying to focus here in Maryland.”

EMILY’S LIST POURS BUCKS TO EDWARDS: Emily’s List, the powerful super PAC supporting Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign for Senate, will invest another $1 million in advertising in the state, doubling down on a race that a series of recent polls have shown is a tossup, writes John Fritze in the Sun.

NECK & NECK: A new poll finds voters still split in Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary, eight weeks before the election and as Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) takes her first step toward airing her own television ads, Rachel Weiner of the Post reports.

EDWARDS’ INDEPENDENCE: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about the tightening primary for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Donna Edwards’ reputation for not playing well with others.

GOV’T UNION BACKS RASKIN: UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO, whose membership includes about 5,500 permanent employees in the Montgomery County government and other local public agencies, announced Tuesday its endorsement of state Sen. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park in the contest for the 8th District Democratic congressional nomination, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.