DOWN TO THE WIRE: The final week of Maryland’s annual legislative session will feature veto showdowns and debate on some of the weightiest policy issues considered by the General Assembly this year. In their dash to the April 10 finish line, lawmakers will consider bills that would require paid sick leave, revamp the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program and limit how much local police cooperate with federal immigration authorities, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.
BILLS SIGNED: Gov. Larry Hogan held a brief ceremony Friday morning to sign two financial bills into law. The ceremony with House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Mike Miller lasted less than two minutes, with each politician quickly signing the documents. “Let’s get back to work,” Hogan said at the conclusion. He did not speak with reporters, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that, included in Friday’s signing event was House Bill 503, which establishes a new way of calculating non-withholding tax revenue for the purposes of budgeting. The revenue, which includes capital gains taxes, has been the most difficult to predict and also has caused the most volatile swings in estimating revenues.
FIXING RX POT: An effort is on in Annapolis to clean up what various legislators called “a mess” within the nascent medical marijuana industry in Maryland — and to get a license for a company involved in one of the lawsuits to grow medical cannabis in Washington County, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. There’s not much time, however, as the General Assembly adjourns a week from today.
A THREAT TO SCHOOLS: When it comes to dealing with the Maryland General Assembly, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan could well be called “Mr. Irrelevant,” opines Barry Rascovar in a column for MarylandReporter. He’s threatening to veto a batch of bills recently enacted by Democrats in the state legislature – yet he lacks the votes to support his negative actions.
CHESAPEAKE RESOLUTION: The Maryland Senate on Friday approved a resolution imploring Gov. Larry Hogan to press the Trump administration not to cut tens of millions of dollars for restoring the Chesapeake Bay. The resolution now moves to the House of Delegates for consideration. The largely symbolic resolution carries no legal weight. Sen. Stephen Hershey, the Senate’s minority leader, called it “a political jab aimed at the governor,” but the Eastern Shore Republican voted for the resolution, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes.
- In a letter responding to the lawmakers, Hogan’s secretaries of the Environment and Natural Resources reiterated previous statements noting that Trump’s budget is only a proposal, writes Scott Dance in the Sun. If it ever becomes reality, Ben Grumbles and Mark Belton wrote, they “will continue fighting and advocating on behalf of all Marylanders,”
HEROIN CRISIS BILLS: A proposal to battle Maryland’s heroin crisis advanced in the House of Delegates Friday, but in a significantly scaled back form. The sponsors’ goal of opening new drug treatment centers across the state fell victim to cost concerns. The bill still includes provisions aimed at making it easier for addicts to get into treatment. But originally, it called for 10 centers to be created around the state. It now directs the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to open just one by the summer of 2018, Ian Duncan writes in the Sun.
- Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks of the Post report that the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday gave preliminary approval to three bills aimed at combating an opioid addiction epidemic that has surged for six years.
- A bill that could expand telemedicine to include counseling for substance abuse disorders, which could help thwart the ballooning heroin-opioid epidemic in the state, is advancing in the Maryland General Assembly, Natalie Schwartz of CNS reports. Telemedicine, or the use of virtual tools like video chats to provide health care services, has grown rapidly in recent years.
KILLING CALLS FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION: The House of Delegates on Friday gave preliminary approval of House and Senate resolutions, HJ2/SJ2, to rescind all four of Maryland’s calls for a constitutional convention. A final vote is expected Monday or Tuesday, reports Daniel Menefee for MarylandReporter.
SENTENCING MURDERERS: The authority to sentence convicted first-degree murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole rests with judges not juries, Maryland’s top court ruled unanimously Friday in resolving a dispute that arose when the General Assembly repealed the death penalty in 2013, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record. In replacing capital punishment with life without the possibility of parole, the General Assembly failed to remove expressly the provision that juries must decide whether a killer is put to death.
CONWAY’s FUTURE: Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a veteran Democrat who represents Northeast Baltimore, said Friday that she is not sure whether she will return to Annapolis next year, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. Conway, the only Baltimore lawmaker to chair one of the state Senate’s standing committees, said she hopes to complete her four-year term but is unsure whether she will be able to because of serious health issues in her family.
MORE POWER FOR COMPTROLLER: Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports that the Office of the Comptroller may soon have greater investigative and enforcement powers in Maryland thanks to legislation backed by Gov. Larry Hogan to expand the agency’s police powers to fight fraud.
WHO’s THE BOSS? In her Annapolis Notes column, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that Sen. Cheryl Kagan objected to Senate President Mike Miller’s introduction of a girl as “bossy;” whether Annapolis should concentrate on Maryland or be concerned with what is happening in D.C.; and math and the marijuana industry.
AA SENATORS BACK ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD: After years of resistance, the Anne Arundel County senators voted Friday for a fully elected school board, approving a bill that has already passed the House of Delegates, reports Len Lazarick for Maryland Reporter. Anne Arundel County is one of the last three counties in Maryland with a school board totally appointed by the governor after a nominating process. The measure must still be approved by the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and the full Senate.
THE HANGOVER: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that all this nonsense in Annapolis over brewery licensing has given him a hangover. “A Guinness destination brewery here could mean beer tourists from all over the country.” He also reports on some good news nuggets in Baltimore’s latest Census figures.
LIQUOR LICENSE FOR MARKET: Baltimore’s representatives in Annapolis endorsed a plan Friday to mount a last-minute push to create a special new liquor license for Cross Street Market in Federal Hill, part of a deal to renovate the 170-year-old venue, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun.
DEM GUBERNATORIAL HOPEFULS COURT YOUTH: Three prospective candidates for Maryland’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination — Ben Jealous, Kevin Kamenetz and Richard Madaleno — test-marketed some of their messages Saturday for the state’s Young Democrats, combining attacks on Gov. Larry Hogan with calls for the party to reclaim its voice as an advocate for the middle class, writes Bill Turque for the Post.
TRONE SETS UP CAMPAIGN-STYLE OFFICE: Total Wine & More founder David Trone has not decided whether he will run for Montgomery County executive or some other political office in 2018, but he now has an office in Potomac for “non-corporate” activities, according to Total Wine spokesman Edward Cooper. Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat tracks the story.
HARRIS ON THE HOT SEAT: Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress, confronted hundreds of voters at a town hall meeting on the Eastern Shore late Friday that rapidly devolved into a shouting match over the Trump administration, immigration and GOP efforts to repeal the Obamacare health law, reports John Fritze for the Sun. The article is topped by a video of some of the meeting.
- Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports that the town hall meeting in the typically Republican-friendly Eastern Shore of Maryland found Harris distancing himself from the top two Republicans in his party: dismissing President Trump’s proposed federal budget and backing the congressional investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia, while suggesting possible displeasure at Speaker Paul D. Ryan. A video also tops this article.
TRUMP HOSTS MANUFACTURERS: President Donald Trump on Friday told a group of manufacturers — including two from Maryland — that his administration will stay focused on the industry as it looks for ways to roll back Obama-era regulations and rewrite U.S. trade policy, reports John Fritze for the Sun. The president told the business leaders he is working to lift the burden of “job killing regulations … like never before.”