State Roundup, April 11, 2017

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Gov. Larry Hogan talks to reporters on State Circle Monday afternoon. MarylandReporter.com phto

IT’s A WRAP: Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign more than 100 bills into law on today, including legislation granting tax breaks to manufacturing companies that create new jobs, an ethics bill and a bill that delays implementation of a scoring system for state-funded transportation projects, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes.

OAKS SHOWS UP: It was one of the biggest surprises on Sine Die. And it had nothing to do with a bill getting killed or being sent to the governor’s desk. Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks, who is facing federal charges for allegedly misusing his legislative position and taking thousands of dollars in bribes, strolled into the ornate Senate chamber on Monday, patted one of his colleagues on the shoulder as he walked by and headed to his seat in the back of the chamber, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post.

ETHICS LEGISLATION:  Gov. Larry Hogan better enjoy the next nine months, because if past is prologue, next year’s session will be hell, writes Michael Collins in a column for MarylandReporter. Ethics in the legislature have been a mess this year, and after spurning an ethics reform bill proposed by Gov. Hogan, legislative leaders needed a lifeline. Democratic leaders needed to be seen as taking the issue seriously. They took Hogan’s proposed ethics bill and watered it down so they could make it their own. In the end, they passed ethics reform that, while not Hogan-strong, is still better than nothing,

TACKLING HEROIN CRISIS: The General Assembly passed a suite of bills designed to tackle Maryland’s worsening heroin crisis, putting finishing touches Monday on measures to improve drug awareness education and help addicts get into treatment, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports.

RX POT REFORM EFFORTS GOES DOWN: An effort to reform the state’s fledgling medical cannabis laws to simultaneously allow minority-owned growers and end two lawsuits failed in the final moments Monday night of the General Assembly’s 2017 session. The House of Delegates had taken the vote but before it could be officially recorded the clock struck midnight Tuesday and session ended, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

TRUST ACT FAILS: Lawmakers representing Democratic, immigrant-rich communities had hoped to pass a bill they called the “Trust Act,” which would have broadly prohibited the use of local or state government resources to help with immigration enforcement, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun. The House of Delegates passed a watered-down version of the bill, but the state Senate struggled to advance an even narrower bill that mainly clarified that local police can’t ask about a person’s immigration status if they’re not under arrest.

RAPISTS’ PARENTAL RIGHTS: A long-sought bill to allow women who conceive a child as a result of being raped to end the parental rights of their attacker failed to pass the General Assembly after emotional negotiations that ran into the final hour of this year’s session, Ian Duncan of the Sun writes.

SEX OFFENDER BILLS: Two bills sponsored by Washington County Del. Brett Wilson to expand penalties and restrictions on convicted sex offenders were passed Monday by the Maryland General Assembly.  Another bill expanding the statute of limitations for soliciting murder or arson also got the legislature’s blessing, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.

GENERIC DRUG PRICING: A prohibition on generic drug price gouging now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk for signature after the House concurred in Senate amendments Monday morning, reports Daniel Menefee for MarylandReporter. The House voted 137-2 for the bill, HB631, and the Senate approved it on Friday 38-7 with a handful of Republicans joining the Democratic majority. All but a few GOP delegates supported the measure.

OPPOSING TRUMP: Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly spent much of the 2017 legislative session opposing President Trump’s agenda; taking progressive stances on education, health care and the environment; and trying to dent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s popularity ahead of the 2018 gubernatorial election, report Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

CAP ON SCHOOL TESTING: With unanimous votes in both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, the General Assembly passed a bill that would limit how many hours of standardized testing school students can be made to undergo each year. The bill would cap testing at 2.2% of overall classroom time in a year — about 24 hours in elementary and middle school and 26 hours in high school, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports.

DEADLOCK OVER GUNS ON COLLEGE CAMPUS: A group of lawmakers charged with hammering out a compromise on a bill to ban the carrying of guns on college campuses deadlocked Monday over whether to make a violation of the law a criminal offense or a civil one, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.

COLLEGE APPLICATIONS & CRIMINAL RECORDS: The General Assembly gave final approval to legislation Monday that would bar public and private colleges from asking about a prospective student’s criminal record on initial applications, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

The Sine Die seder. Photo by Hannah Klarner, Capital News Service

SINE DIE SEDER: Thousands of years in the making, the Sine Die Seder went off without a hitch Monday night as legislators took a break at 6 p.m. from their mad dash to midnight to celebrate the Israelites’ escape from Egyptian bondage 3,400 years ago, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

BEEHIVES AND BLACK BEARS: Beekeepers whose hives are threatened by black bears would be allowed to shoot the marauding bears under one of the quirkier measures passed by the General Assembly this year, writes Ian Duncan for the Sun.

ALCOHOL LAW REFORM: Comptroller Peter Franchot will announce today that he is creating a commission to take “a comprehensive, top-to-bottom look at Maryland’s beer industry,” according to a source familiar with the comptroller’s plans. The goal is to create recommendations for legislation that would reform the maze of state alcohol laws to boost the state’s burgeoning craft brewery industry, Josh Kurtz writes in Maryland Matters.

ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD FOR ARUNDEL: The General Assembly passed legislation Monday afternoon creating an elected school board for Anne Arundel County, ending years of back-and-forth about the best way to select the body that makes policy and budgeting decisions for local public schools, Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital writes.