State Roundup, April 1, 2016

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HOGAN SAYS HE’LL VETO TRANSIT RATING BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan said unequivocally Thursday he would veto a just-passed bill that would require his administration to publicly evaluate transportation projects it funded. “Yes,” Hogan said when asked about his veto plans at an event in Severn, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser report for the Sun.

Lynn Porter

Lynn Porter will be retiring at the end of the session after 29 years as the Senate reading clerk.

HELP FOR BALTIMORE CITY: The General Assembly agreed Thursday to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to spark a renaissance in Baltimore City. Mentorship programs would be created for children from low-income families who hope to attend college, after-school programs would be expanded, blocks of vacant housing would be demolished, rundown areas would be redeveloped and six city parks would be improved under bills guided through the legislature by leading Democrats, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

DRUNKEN DRIVING: Citing the drunken-driving-related death of a police officer, a senator urged delegates Thursday to approve a Senate-passed bill enabling very drunken drivers to be held liable for punitive damages if their driving caused death or injury, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

HOGAN’S APPROACH: The passage of the fiscal 2017 budget by the General Assembly is without question an overwhelming victory for Gov. Hogan. The broad bipartisan support in both chambers for the governor’s budget, largely unchanged by state legislators, is a testament to the success of Hogan’s collaborative approach to state spending, Greg Kline writes for MarylandReporter.com.

REVISION TO MARYLAND SONG STALLS: A bill to revise the state song of Maryland to remove Civil War-era references to “Northern scum” and other phrases deemed offensive has stalled in the state House, writes the AP’s Brian Witte in the Daily Record.

HARFORD SUPPORTED BILLS: A heroin bill has been withdrawn; the newest movie theater being built in Harford County is slated to have beer, wine and liquor sales, provided the legislation that would allow them passes the Senate, and a bill designed to resolve municipal election ties such as the one affecting Aberdeen’s City Council has passed the House of Delegates and moved to the Senate. Those moves, and others on bills supported by Harford County legislators, come as the scheduled April 11 adjournment of the 2016 General Assembly session in Annapolis looms, reports David Anderson for the Aegis.

SENATE OKs ARUNDEL COMMISSION CHANGE: The Senate on Thursday passed a final version of a bill that proposes to change the composition of Anne Arundel County’s School Board Nominating Commission, sending it to Gov. Hogan’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed. Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital writes that senators approved the measure by a 32-14 vote. The House voted earlier this month to support it.

ROUTE 175 FUNDING: In the next two decades, daily traffic along Route 175 near Fort George G. Meade is expected to double to approximately 66,000 vehicles a day. Ben Weathers of the Annapolis Capital writes that to address situation, Gov. Hogan announced Thursday the state is allocating $93.2 million to pay for three construction projects designed to alleviate congestion along the Route 175 corridor. Combined with federal funding, the projects will cost $139 million, state officials said.

DEL. HIXSON TAKEN TO HOSPITAL: Del. Sheila Hixson, 83, was treated for a medical emergency at the statehouse Thursday afternoon, shortly after the House of Delegates recessed from its morning legislative session, reports Josh Hicks for the Post. Hixson’s condition and the reason for the emergency are unknown at this time, but Senate President Mike Miller said on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon that Hixson, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, had been taken to the hospital.

BANKS SEEK CLARITY ON POT BIZ: As the state gears up to get its first medical marijuana dispensaries, like any business these stores are going to need a place to manage and secure their money. Amerika Roy of the Daily Record reports that, as federal regulations stand, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance, which serves as a barrier for banks in the 20-plus states, including Maryland, that want to provide financial services to legal marijuana-related businesses.

MORE EDWARDS-VAN HOLLEN DEBATES: U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen, the two Democratic candidates for Maryland’s open Senate seat, battled over Social Security but presented broadly similar positions on education, bipartisanship and the state’s economy at an even-tempered forum in Prince George’s County on Thursday., writes John Fritze of the Sun.

PAC SPENDS FOR EDWARDS: The Working for Us PAC has spent $386,000 this week on canvassing, in what the group’s president said is the beginning of an effort to support U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards in her tight race against Rep. Chris Van Hollen for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Rachel Weiner of the Post reports.

IVEY AIRS NEW AD: Glenn Ivey, a former prosecutor running for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, is airing a new television advertisement Thursday that features a prominent victim of domestic abuse — his first ad to focus on his former job as Prince George’s County State’s Attorney, John Fritze of the Sun writes. The story is topped by the ad.

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