State Roundup, March 17, 2017

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TRUMP BUDGET & MARYLAND: President Donald Trump unveiled a budget Thursday that calls for eliminating spending on the Chesapeake Bay, reducing medical research and slashing the federal workforce to levels not seen in decades — part of an effort to force a historic resizing of the government he now leads. In Maryland, a state where the economy is closely tied to federal spending, the $1.15 trillion budget could put thousands of civilian government employees out of work but also boost defense activity in the state, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

BAIL REFORM: The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus voted Thursday to recommend that the General Assembly take no action on any of the bail reform bills before it this year and let a landmark rule adopted by the state’s high court take effect without alteration. The narrow vote was a victory for Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and a setback for the bail bond industry, which has been supporting a bill in the Senate. However, a Senate committee rejected the caucus position Thursday night and approved a bill backing off parts of the rule, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

HOUSE PASSES HOGAN BUDGET: The House of Delegates passed a revised version of Gov. Larry Hogan’s $43.5 billion state budget on a strong bipartisan vote Thursday, sending it to the state Senate, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.  The vote on the budget bill was 135-6, with only a handful of the most conservative Republicans dissenting. There was no debate.

PAID SICK LEAVE: A day after Gov. Larry Hogan promised to veto it, the Maryland Senate approved a mandatory paid sick time bill by a veto-proof margin, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

  • Del. Luke Clippinger is right when he says the effort in the General Assembly to require employers to provide paid sick leave for most workers is not a nefarious Democratic plot to “get” Gov. Larry Hogan. Advocates were pushing the issue long before Mr. Hogan was elected, and they have finally arrived at the point where their goal is within sight. But, opines the editorial board of the Sun, unless some pragmatism rules the day, sick leave backers risk having their efforts stymied this year and potentially for years to come.

CHANGES TO MARRIOTT DEAL: A group of Maryland senators from Montgomery County are attempting to change the way the state will fund its portion of an incentive package being given to Marriott International Inc. — a move that has Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration up in arms, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal is reporting.

ANTI-FRACKERS ARRESTED: About a dozen activists were arrested Thursday morning for blocking an entrance to the State House during a demonstration against fracking. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that dozens of people stood in front of the State House steps, holding anti-fracking signs and singing, “We shall not be moved.” Then, a smaller group moved in front of an entranceway into the ground floor of the State House and didn’t move.

BROUHAHA OVER BEER ON TAP: A “brewhaha” is brewing in Annapolis over brews, writes Danielle Gaines for the Frederick News Post.  Lawmakers in Maryland’s Senate and House of Delegates are moving forward in different ways on two bills to let Maryland’s Class 5 breweries — such as Flying Dog and Monocacy Brewing Co. in Frederick — increase the number of barrels they may pour annually for on-site consumption. One bill is preferred by the Brewers Association of Maryland and its members. The other is preferred by the state’s alcohol retail and beer wholesalers associations.

CURBING EXPULSIONS: The House of Delegates approved legislation Thursday that would significantly curb the practice of suspending or expelling the youngest public school students without first taking other steps to improve their behavior. The measure now goes to the state Senate, where a committee approved a similar bill Thursday.

MIKES MUST TESTIFY: The General Assembly’s Democratic leaders must provide testimony in a challenge by Republicans to a Maryland congressional district they allege was unconstitutionally redrawn to favor Democrats, Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes. A three-judge U.S. District Court panel this week rejected arguments by Senate President  Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael  Busch that they cannot be compelled to testify regarding what their motives were in voting to approve the redrawn 6th District in 2011.

SCHOOL CONCERNS IN MO CO: Gov. Larry Hogan this week got a rundown of complications, including lost teacher planning and training time, that Montgomery County Public Schools will face after designing an academic calendar around his mandate to end classes by mid-June, writes Bethany Rodgers for Bethesda Beat.

SENATE OKs PUGH MEASURE: The Sun’s Erin Cox reports that the Maryland Senate unanimously voted Thursday to grant Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh sole authority to appoint and dismiss members of the city school board. Granting mayoral control to Pugh was the former state senator’s top priority for the General Assembly session, which ends in about three weeks. The House of Delegates has not advanced the measure yet.

MD JUDGE RULES AGAINST TRAVEL BAN: Maryland U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang ruled Thursday against President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, establishing a double barrier preventing the policy from going into effect, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.

REMOVING TANEY: The entrance of Frederick City Hall could look much different after Saturday, if all goes as planned and the long-standing busts of Roger Brooke Taney and Gov. Thomas Johnson are hauled off to a new location, Mallory Panuska reports for the Frederick News Post.

GOP SEEKS RESIGNATIONS: The Baltimore County Republican Central Committee is calling for the resignations of Del. Dan Morhaim and Sen. Bobby Zirkin over ethical concerns. Both are Democrats. Morhaim was reprimanded by the House of Delegates for conflict of interest over medical marijuana. Zirkin was criticized by a Baltimore judge for his late entry into a lawsuit, but strongly defended by Senate President Mike Miller.