State Roundup, March 16, 2017

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HOGAN BUDGET: Maryland’s House of Delegates on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to Gov. Larry Hogan’s $43.5 billion budget after restoring nearly three-quarters of the $112 million in spending requirements the Republican leader had wanted to cut, reports Josh Hicks in the Post. The chamber, which is on track to advance the revised fiscal plan to the Senate this week, added amendments to salvage funding Hogan planned to slash for a new hospital in Prince George’s County, state grants for poorer jurisdictions and teacher-retention, after-school and scholarship programs.

  • As the House of Delegates nears an up-or-down vote on Gov. Larry Hogan’s $43.5 billion spending plan today, House budget chief Maggie McIntosh sees a lot of good news from her perspective — a revenue shortfall erased, critical programs preserved and a healthy reserve fund. Del. McIntosh said legislators crafted a plan that seeks to avoid past wrangling with the Republican governor while giving him the fiscal wiggle room to contribute state money to help the Baltimore school system to make up a $130 million shortfall, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

COMPROMISE ROADS BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that a bill crafted by lawmakers would prevent the cancellation of 66 road projects around the state, the result of a compromise on legislation to score and rank transportation projects. Lawmakers sidestepped a potentially ugly confrontation by agreeing to legislation that would delay the effect of the scoring system for two years — long enough to get past the 2018 election. The House of Delegates has yet to act on the measure, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

  • Senate President Mike Miller said Wednesday that the geography of Hogan’s supporter base is at the root of the fight over the law, reports Rachel Baye for WYPR-FM. “The governor wants to build roads to Delaware and West Virginia, and you know, at the same time, we say, look, we need to solve problems. Solve those problems on the Eastern Shore, but at the same time, address the immediate problems right now which is the metropolitan areas of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore,” Miller said.

PAID SICK LEAVE: The paid sick leave bills making their way through the legislature “are dead on arrival” if they reach his desk, Gov. Larry Hogan declared Wednesday. Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com said he promised reporters “I will veto them immediately” because they have the potential to kill thousands of jobs and “are disastrous for our economy.”

***MarylandReporter.com’s Editor and Publisher Len Lazarick will be speaking about the General Assembly session and Gov. Larry Hogan at the Reagan Republican Club Thursday evening, March 16 at 7 p.m. Cockeysville Community Center, 9836 Greenside Drive, Cockeysville 21030. 6:30 pizza and soft drinks.***

ABUSE REPORTING TIME: Year after year, Del. C.T. Wilson gathered his courage, told his colleagues about how he was abused as a child and urged them to allow victims more time to file lawsuits against their abuser. And year after year, Wilson saw the bill die in a House of Delegates committee without ever being called for a vote. That changed Wednesday, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun, when the House Judiciary Committee — where the bill had been bottled up — voted to advance Wilson’s bill to the full chamber, where he expects the bill to pass easily.

DRUG DEALER SENTENCES: The Maryland Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would target the lethal synthetic opioid fentanyl. To do so, they completely rewrote a bill proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan that would have imposed lengthy prison sentences on drug dealers who dole out deadly doses of heroin. The Sun’s Ian Duncan reports that the bill would now impose up to an additional 10 years of prison time on dealers convicted of supplying fentanyl. It cleared the Senate on a 46-1 vote.

ANOTHER HOGAN NOMINEE WITHDRAWN: Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he has withdrawn Day Gardner’s name to serve on the state Board of Physicians following criticism over her advocacy against doctors who perform abortions, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post. Hogan said Gardner asked that her name be removed from consideration. Gardner is the third nominee withdrawn by Hogan in the last two weeks.

THE MIKES ORDERED DEPOSED: A three-judge panel has ordered Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch to give depositions and turn over documents in a federal lawsuit challenging the 2011 redrawing of the state’s congressional districts, reports Justin Fenton in the Sun.

POLITICAL MOTIVE IN FIRING? Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat reports that two state Senate and House committees that held a joint hearing on the firing of the state’s longtime crab population manager tried to draw a bright line that the action was politically motivated.

EVEN MORE FACEBOOK SHENANIGANS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s staff changed the headlines on DelmarvaNow.com stories placed on the governor’s Facebook page, triggering criticism from Delmarva Media Group and a press freedom group, writes Jeremy Cox in the Salisbury Daily Times. These actions by the governor’s staff spotlight a little-known feature available to certain Facebook users that allows them to rewrite the headlines on articles linked on their pages. Those changes are visible only to visitors to that user’s page.

DERAILING BAY CLEANUP: President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate federal funding for the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest program to restore a body of water in U.S. history, just as the effort reaches its halfway point, write Jenna Portnoy and Darryl Fears in the Post. The Environmental Protection Agency awards millions in grants each year to the District, nonprofit agencies and six states in the bay watershed  to pay for restoration. If enacted, Trump’s budget threatens to derail the cleanup efforts, accomplishing a goal opponents of the program could not.

MARYLAND JUDGE ALSO BLOCKS TRAVEL BAN: A federal judge in Maryland this morning temporarily blocked the 90-day ban on immigration for citizens of six countries in President Donald Trump’s executive order, dealing another blow to the President’s revised travel ban. Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order nationwide over the ban, reports Laura Jarrett for CNN.

PG BUDGET INCREASES: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is proposing a fiscal 2018 budget that includes modest spending increases on teacher salaries, economic development and other initiatives, fueled by rising property values and the first full year of revenue from the new MGM casino at National Harbor, reports Arelis R. Hernandez in the Post. The $3.84 billion spending plan would fund hundreds of new police, sheriff and fire recruits, as well as programming targeted at some of the county’s most vulnerable populations: senior citizens and the disabled.