State Roundup, January 25, 2017

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ATTACKING OPIOID, DRUG ABUSE: Gov. Larry Hogan outlined a package of anti-heroin proposals Tuesday — including strict limits on doctors’ ability to write prescriptions for the opioid pills that can turn patients into addicts, reports Ian Duncan of the Sun. The article is topped by a video of the announcement.

STOCK MARKET KILLS ROSY FORECAST: In less than six months, more than a billion dollars of expected tax money evaporated in Maryland, upending rosy talks of tax cuts and launching partisan spending fights. Where did the money go? Erin Cox of the Sun reports that the stock market gains of a tiny number of ultra-wealthy people did not generate as much tax money as state budget forecasters predicted. When forecasters are this wrong about the financial fortunes of the state’s top taxpayers, Maryland’s governor and General Assembly have to cut the budget by tens of millions of dollars.

ACA REPEAL COULD COST STATE $1.4 BILLION: Cara Newcomer of CNS reports that state budget analysts said Tuesday that a federal repeal of the national health care law could cost Maryland $1.4 billion in the 2018 fiscal year. Funds issued to Maryland through the Affordable Care Act include $1.2 billion of enhanced federal funding to cover Medicaid, David Romans, fiscal and policy analysis deputy director for the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, told the House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee.

BEGATHON TODAY: Public school superintendents will converge on Annapolis Wednesday for a ritual known as the “begathon,” which the governor reinstated after state lawmakers attempted to cancel it, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes.  Leaders of public school systems will appear before the state’s Board of Public Works to justify their school construction plans that receive state money.

BUSINESSES OPPOSE PAID SICK LEAVE: Business advocacy groups gathered Monday in Annapolis to oppose a mandatory paid leave bill introduced by members of the House of Delegates., Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. The bill, which is separate from the one Gov. Larry Hogan proposed in December, passed in the House last year and died in the Senate on the last day of the legislative session. If passed, the legislature’s bill requires businesses with 15 or more employees provide seven days of paid leave a year, while those with fewer than 15 employees are required to provide unpaid days off.

DRUG PRICE TARGETED: Maryland House and Senate Democrats are moving to stamp out prescription drug price gouging and force drug makers to reveal how their drugs are priced. On Tuesday, policy analysts, advocates and an assistant attorney general testified before the Senate Finance Committee that prescription drug prices will remain unaffordable without more competition in the generic drug market and better transparency in drug pricing, where prices have increased by as much as 1000% in a one-year period.

LONG-SHOT BILL WOULD END BAIL: David Moon, a liberal Democratic delegate from Montgomery County, plans to introduce legislation this session to end bail in Maryland, a long-shot measure that has the support of the state’s chief public defender but not of the attorney general, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

LIQUOR RULES LAWSUIT APPEALED: A former appointee of Gov. Larry Hogan to Baltimore city’s liquor board and a bar owner have filed an appeal in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that removes the governor’s ability to appoint members of that panel, the Daily Record reports.

MILLER APOLOGIZES FOR DISCLOSURE: State Senate President Mike Miller said Tuesday that he shouldn’t have revealed that the General Assembly’s ethics committee had hired a lawyer to help investigate a lawmaker’s dealings in the medical marijuana industry, Pamela Word reports in the Sun. “I just thought it was common knowledge and it was my mistake,” Miller said in an interview. “I thought it was common knowledge.”

LIABILITY BILL MET WITH SKEPTICISM: Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and plaintiffs’ attorneys expressed skepticism Tuesday at a hearing on a bill that would limit employer liability in specified industries to encourage hiring individuals with criminal records. Senate Bill 55 would prevent employers in certain industries – manufacturing, shipping and receiving, warehousing, construction and demolition – from being held liable based on evidence of past criminal conduct if the employee has completed probation or was released on parole, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.

HOGAN TAPS WILKINS AS DELEGATE: Gov. Larry Hogan yesterday announced the appointment of Jheanelle Wilkins to the House of Delegates following the recommendation of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. Wilkins will represent District 20 in Montgomery County, filling the seat vacated by now-Sen. Will Smith, the Daily Record reports.

BAKER LEANS TOWARD RUN FOR GOVERNOR: In a wide ranging interview with Arelis Hernandez of the Post, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said Tuesday that he is moving “closer to a yes” on whether to run for Maryland governor in 2018, but won’t make a final decision until after the legislative session in Annapolis ends in mid-April.

HOWARD SANCTUARY LABEL DEBATED: In a nearly five-hour-long session emblazoned with passion and temper, local lawmakers Monday night waded through the impact of labeling Howard County as a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants, Fatimah Waseem reports for the Howard County Times.