State Roundup, January 24, 2017

Print More

A KICK-THE-CAN-DOWN-THE-ROAD BUDGET: Maryland’s legislative leaders are getting pressure to fix their approach to spending not just from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan but from their own top budget expert, Warren Deschenaux. Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that, in his analysis of the $43.5 billion state budget Hogan sent to the legislature last week, Deschenaux told legislators Monday, “This is another kick-the-can-down-the-road budget,” putting off hard choices about future spending.

TRUMP FREEZE BODES ILL FOR STATE: President Donald Trump on Monday declared a hiring freeze for nonmilitary federal workers. The moves are being closely watched in Maryland, home to some 300,000 federal workers and several agencies. Some analysts warned the freeze would have an instant chilling effect on a state already suffering tepid job creation while impairing the ability of government to function, Natalie Sherman and Sarah Gantz report in the Sun.

HOGAN WON’T REBUILD CITY JAIL: Gov. Larry Hogan does not plan to rebuild the notorious Baltimore City Detention Center, aides said Monday. Erin Cox and Justin George of the Sun report that the Republican governor shut down the state-run facility nearly two years ago, began demolition last year and included no money this year in his proposed budget to replace the Civil War-era jail, which was plagued by corruption and scandal.

LIABILITY & NEGLIGENT HIRING: A bill that would exempt employers in certain industries from liability for negligent hiring or supervision of employees with a probation before judgment or conviction on their records is being monitored by both second-chance advocates and plaintiff’s attorneys ahead of its first hearing in the Maryland General Assembly, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.

WHAT SUNSHINE TAX? An e-mail from the Larry Hogan for Governor campaign office to the governor’s donors and supporters Monday urged them to support his veto of “a $100 million energy tax” — a policy Hogan has dubbed the “sunshine tax.” But, writes Scott Dance in a Fact-check article in the Sun, the program Hogan’s veto last spring seeks to constrain does not impose a tax — or even a fee — on electricity ratepayers. And it’s not clear how much it has or will increase utilities’ costs to buy electricity.

Del. Luke Clippinger speaks to Monday's sick leave rally. Facebook

Del. Luke Clippinger speaks to Monday’s sick leave rally. Facebook

PUSH FOR, AGAINST PAID SICK LEAVE: A Maryland delegate spoke in personal terms on Monday night as he joined advocates and supporters of a bill that would require companies to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Del. Luke H. Clippinger (D-Baltimore) shared for the first time publicly that he was diagnosed in June with a rare form of leukemia. Two weeks ago, he learned that the cancer is in remission, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

PG-ARUNDEL HOSPITAL FIGHT: State lawmakers from Prince George’s County are asking their constituents to lobby against state approval of a heart surgery unit at Anne Arundel Medical Center, a project they say would impair the fledging cardiac program in the Prince George’s hospital system, reports Arelis Hernandez for the Post.

TIME RAN OUT FOR JAIL VOTING: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that Maryland’s top court said Monday that incarcerated non-felons and pretrial detainees simply ran out of time in their 11th-hour bid to have the Baltimore elections board place polling booths in jails and provide inmates ready access to absentee ballots last Election Day.

STATE CENTER DEVELOPER SUES: The would-be developer of the State Center in Baltimore said it would file a countersuit today alleging the voiding of its $1.5 billion agreement to develop the state government complex was politically motivated. A legal battle could hold up the redevelopment of the aging complex for years, Carrie Wells of the Sun reports.

TRANSIT CIVIL RIGHTS PROBE: On President Barack Obama’s last full day in office, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it would conduct a sweeping review of Maryland’s transportation policies to determine whether they violate federal civil rights rules. The Sun’s Ian Duncan writes that the department made the decision after investigating complaints about Gov. Larry Hogan’s cancellation of the Baltimore Red Line light-rail project in 2015. It’s unclear whether President Donald Trump’s Transportation Department will continue the probe.

SMITH SLATE LOAN TO PUGH ‘ILLEGAL:’ Prosecutors are accusing a political slate funded by former Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. of making an unlawful loan to Mayor Catherine Pugh before the Democratic primary last year — the second action prosecutors have taken this month against donors to Pugh’s campaign, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

LEGGETT VETOES WAGE HIKE: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett on Monday vetoed legislation that would have made the wealthy county the first jurisdiction in Maryland to require a $15 minimum wage, Bill Turque reports in the Post. Leggett (D) said boosting the wage to the level embraced by national progressive activists, including former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), would harm Montgomery’s economy and its ability to compete for jobs in the Washington region.

3rd AGENCY NIXES FREDERICK PROJECT: Peter Samuel, who pens an anti-project newsletter titled “Frederick Hotel Boondoggle,” writes that a third state agency has given the thumbs down to the $84 million Frederick City-sponsored downtown hotel and conference center. Frederick’s latest application for a $1 million Strategic Demolition Fund grant was turned down. Sara Luell of the Department of Housing and Community Development, is quoted as saying “The department is not funding that project.” Last year, both the Maryland Stadium Authority and Maryland Economic Development Corp. decided to have no more to do with the Frederick hotel project.

MARYLAND MAKERS MEET TRUMP: The Daily Record is reporting that two Maryland companies were part of a breakfast meeting with President Donald Trump Monday morning, where the president said he would impose a “substantial border tax” on companies that move manufacturing overseas. Trump also promised tax breaks to companies that kept manufacturing in the United States. “All you have to do is stay,” he said during a morning meeting in the White House’s Roosevelt Room that included Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank and Lockheed Martin CEO and chairwoman Marillyn Hewson.

CARDIN OPPOSES TILLERSON: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced his opposition Monday to President Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee. Cardin had said previously he was “deeply troubled” by Rex Tillerson’s appointment, but he did not signal whether he would oppose or support his confirmation, Ian Duncan and Jeff Barker write in the Sun.

OBAMA WELCOMED AT GOLF CLUB: Former President Barack Obama is welcome to tee off at the Woodmont Country Club whenever he likes, notwithstanding the Middle East policies of his just-ended administration., writes Bill Turque in the Post. That was the message Monday from the leadership of the predominantly Jewish club in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Md., where a nasty fight over whether to offer Obama membership spilled into public view this month.