HOGAN VETOES EXPECTED: Gov. Larry Hogan has a week to sign or veto a stack of controversial bills the General Assembly sent him Wednesday afternoon, starting the clock for a heightened political fight in final days of the legislative session, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Hogan has pledged to sign a bill that bans fracking. But it is the education bill that Hogan has called “one of the most outrageous and irresponsible moves” taken by the General Assembly, that will lead to a showdown with the legislature.
- In this 15-minute segment, Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM speaks with Cheryl Bost of the Maryland State Education Association on the Protect Our Schools Act 2017, which Gov. Hogan has said he will veto.
TRUMP-TARGETED LEGISLATION: Maryland lawmakers sent several bills approved in reaction to President Donald Trump’s administration to Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday, a move that will give the Democrat-controlled legislature a chance to override any vetoes by the Republican governor before lawmakers adjourn April 10, Brian Witte of the AP reports.
- The Maryland Senate yesterday passed, HB913, the Maryland Defense Act of 2017 – mandating that the administration fund five new attorneys in the Office of the Attorney General to sue the federal government — at a cost of $1 million annually, writes Daniel Menefee in MarylandReporter.
- Republicans questioned why Frosh needs the money, given that his office has money for 30 vacant positions, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM writes. “This body has given the attorney general, already over the past five years, including this year, over $5 million in a slush fund for positions that were never filled,” said Sen. Robert Cassilly.
- The Maryland House of Delegates on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a Senate bill that would fill any funding shortfalls to Maryland Public Television if the Trump administration succeeds in major cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, reports Daniel Menefee in MarylandReporter. Final vote on SB1034, was delayed until today.
PRESSED BY BAIL BOND LOBBY: With less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, months of activity aimed at preserving Maryland’s bail system have reached a crescendo. Lawmakers say they are under heavy pressure from lobbyists to support a pro-bail bill that passed the Senate last week and is awaiting action in the more liberal House of Delegates, writes Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.
SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROCESS: The General Assembly adopted a capital budget Wednesday that would cut Gov. Larry Hogan out of the process of approving the state’s school construction plans, Michael Dresser of the Sun writes. The House of Delegates and state Senate gave final approval to revised version of the governor’s nearly $1.1 billion capital budget, which funds building projects.
SENATE A ‘NO’ ON SANCTUARY BILL: Senate President Mike Miller said Wednesday his chamber would not follow the House of Delegates in passing what he called a “sanctuary state” bill. The Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee is whittling away at their version of the legislation, which was introduced as the Trust Act, report Michael Dresser and Pamela Wood in the Sun.
- Josh Hicks of the Post reports that Miller said, “Our churches are not sanctuaries, our colleges are not sanctuaries, our cities are not sanctuaries, and our state is not going to become a sanctuary state. I haven’t lobbied anybody in the committee, but I definitely will tell you the committee is not going to vote to allow Maryland to become a sanctuary state.”
- Here’s Rachel Baye’s report for WYPR-FM.
BREWERS BLAST BILL: Maryland’s brewers — and representatives for international liquor giant Diageo — pleaded with state senators Wednesday not to pass a bill that they say purports to help the beer industry but actually harms it. The state’s brewers have sounded alarms since the House of Delegates passed a bill about two weeks ago that would allow breweries to sell more beer on site, but restrict operating hours for taprooms and prohibit breweries from selling beer not brewed entirely on the premises, reports the Sun’s Pamela Wood.
- With less than two weeks left in the 2017 General Assembly session, brewers are aiming to heavily amend a bill passed by the House of Delegates that would increase their barrel limits, but curtail hours, reports Danielle Gaines for the Frederick News Post. Some of Maryland’s 30 Class 5 breweries affected by the bill — including Frederick’s Flying Dog and Attaboy Beer — have said the House bill would hurt their businesses.
- The AP is reporting that brewers have been worried by the restrictions, and the Maryland Association of Brewers is asking for some changes. One would allow existing brewers to be grandfathered into holding their current hours. The group also is asking to allow some offsite brewing, enabling 20% of a brewery’s beer to be brewed offsite.
CRIMINAL HISTORY & COLLEGE APPLICATIONS: Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports on a bill in the General Assembly that prevents Maryland colleges from weighing an applicant’s criminal history in undergraduate admissions decisions. The Senate passed the bill Tuesday, and the House passed a version earlier this month.
METRO COMPACT TALKS: The push to reform Metro’s governance and financing is gaining a new backer, as the Maryland General Assembly prepares to join Virginia in formally proposing talks to revise the Metro Compact, legislators said Tuesday. Robert McCartney of the Post is reporting that two Montgomery County lawmakers have inserted language in the Maryland budget that is similar – but not identical – to a provision already enacted in Richmond regarding the compact, which spells out how Metro is governed and financed. Both states would require top-level talks among the two states, the District and the federal government on restructuring the transit agency.
LEFT-LANE LINGERERS: Drivers who hog the left lane soon could face fines up to $250 in Maryland under a bill designed to ease bottlenecks and reduce road rage by making it easier for motorists to get around slower vehicles. House Bill 1451 would put Maryland among a growing number of states cracking down on drivers who seem to defy a basic lesson of high school driver’s education: Use the left lane to pass, then move back to the right. A hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled for today, reports Katherine Shaver in the Post.
- If passed by both houses of the Maryland General Assembly, House Bill 1451 would restrict use of the left lane to overtaking and passing other vehicles. This law only applies on roadways with at least three lanes and a 55 mph speed limit. The law will not apply to vehicles seeking to turn left or during high-traffic periods, Brad Kroner of the Cecil Whig reports.
‘RIGHT TO TRY’ EXPERIMENTAL DRUG BILL: Legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs before they have received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration appears poised to become law in Maryland. The “Right to Try” bill passed the Senate unanimously Wednesday, a week and a half after a similar measure sailed through the House of Delegates, reports Amanda Yeager for the Annapolis Capital.
OYSTER PROTECTION: State lawmakers have quashed talks over whether and how to open Chesapeake Bay oyster sanctuaries to harvest, passing a bill that blocks any changes to the protected areas’ boundaries for nearly two years, writes Scott Dance for the Sun.
HOGAN SEEKS RECIPES: Gov. Larry Hogan has invited chefs using Maryland ingredients to submit original recipes for the Governor’s Buy Local Cookout, which will be held at Government House in Annapolis on July 20. Recipes must be submitted by May 19 and include products from at least one Maryland farmer, waterman or other producer, reports Michel Elben for the Carroll County Times.