State Roundup, April 12, 2017

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BILLS SIGNED: Manufacturers creating new jobs in Maryland could receive tax breaks under a bill Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law Tuesday, the product of a hard-won compromise that came together in the final hours of this year’s legislative session. The governor also signed into law the first major rewrite of the state’s public integrity laws in about 15 years, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

WHAT PASSED, WHAT DIDN’T: Maryland lawmakers ended their 90-day legislative session Monday with deals and legislation to prevent price gouging by drugmakers and to combat the state’s growing opioid epidemic. But other progressive policy ideas faltered in the waning hours, including legislation to diversify the state’s medical marijuana industry and to limit the state’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports.

HOW SOME FARED: Tom Hall of WYPR-FM talks with House Minority Leader Nic Kipke on the session, then with a panel of nonprofit leaders to find out how children, families and some of Maryland’s most marginalized citizens will be affected by this year’s legislation.

BLACK CAUCUS SEEKS RX POT SESSION: The head of the Legislative Black Caucus said Tuesday her organization wants Gov. Larry Hogan to recall the General Assembly to Annapolis for a one-day special session to pass a law expanding the medical marijuana industry, Erin Cox of the Sun writes.

A BIPARTISAN SESSION: Despite its many battles, House Minority Leader Nic Kipke said the 2017 session was the “most bipartisan” he has seen since he took office. Hogan concurred, telling reporters that 2017 was an “incredible, bipartisan session.” According to a report by CNS and MarylandReporter, it was so bipartisan that as Republican delegates talked the clock out on a bill expanding medical marijuana licenses, it was Kipke who made the motion to “adjourn sine die” at midnight, a role typically reserved for the House Democratic majority leader. This partially reflected bipartisan distaste for how the bill was written and forced on them by the Senate.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan, who has clashed with Democratic legislative leaders and struggled to get bills passed over the past two years, just finished his most successful legislative session since taking office in 2015, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. Hogan, a Republican who enjoys wide popularity in the deep-blue state, got his major win in his final legislative session before he gears up for reelection next year.
  • Before they applied their signatures to 115 of the 935 bills passed by lawmakers this year, Hogan thanked House Speaker Michael  Busch and Senate President  Mike Miller for working in “a bipartisan fashion to get a lot done,” Tamela Baker reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail. “I believe this is how government is supposed to work,” he said. “We’ve had disagreements, but we’ve tried to reach common ground, and to make things happen and to get things done. And we have.”

WINNERS & LOSERS: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters offers up three lists in this morning’s column: The Winners, The Losers and Draw that came out of the 90-day session. It looks like there were a lot more winners than losers this year. But don’t count the Democratic leadership among the winners.

HOGAN 2nd MOST POPULAR GOV: The Morning Consult does a story on the most and least popular governors in the United States, finding that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan comes in 2nd behind Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Barker.  The Top 10 governors are all Republicans.

Caryn York talks to Gov. Larry Hogan at the Catholic Conference lunch on Sine Die. MarylandReporter.com photo

BAIL BOND REFORM ADVOCATE: A college marijuana bust helped set Caryn York on a course to lead the coalition that persuaded the General Assembly to uphold a new judiciary rule diminishing the role of money bail in determining who goes free and who stays in jail until trial, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. After the session opened in January, the 32-year-old advocate was a constant presence in the State House and outside House and Senate committee rooms, where she organized opposition to legislation the influential bail bond industry pushed to preserve the stature of money bail among pretrial release conditions.

FROSH’s EXPANDED POWER: Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that now that Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has the authority to sue the federal government, will he? And will Frosh, pending enactment of a General Assembly-passed measure, sue pharmaceutical companies if they raise the prices of generic drugs to an amount he deems gouges consumers? “We will use it (the authority) if we think it will protect the citizens of this state,” Frosh said Tuesday. “We aren’t going to go out haphazardly filing lawsuits.”

OVERHAULING LIQUOR LAWS: Frustrated by the state’s “outdated” regulation of alcohol, Comptroller Peter Franchot plans to create a task force to review Maryland liquor laws, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes. Franchot, a Democrat who collects alcohol taxes and enforces the liquor laws, is dubbing his effort “Reform on Tap.”

GUINNESS TO SEEK ANOTHER ROUND: Dwayne Kratt,  senior director of state government affairs for Diageo, the company that owns Guinness, said if the Guinness tap room is to be a success his company will be bellying back up to the legislative bar for permission to sell more, John Lee of WYPR-FM reports.

THE UNPRECEDENTED NAT OAKS: In a column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks looks back at the history of political corruption in Maryland and finds that Sen. Nathaniel Oaks’s situation may be unprecedented: an elected politician who finds himself on the wrong side of the law twice.

VAN HOLLEN CAMP TO PAY FINE: Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign has agreed to pay a fine and return some $3,300 in contributions over a dispute with a political group that supported his opponent in last year’s Democratic Senate primary, John Fritze of the Sun reports. Emily’s List, the women’s group that backed former Rep. Donna Edwards’ campaign for Senate, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission in 2015, alleging Van Hollen’s campaign used the group’s finance reports to identify potential donors – which is prohibited.

MAKING JEALOUS A WINNER: In an op-ed for the Sun, Progressive Harold Ginsberg writes about what it would take for former NAACP President Ben Jealous to win Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination and the right to square off against Larry Hogan in next year’s general election. Mr. Jealous faces a daunting task. In order to take on the “deeply popular” Republican, he’ll have to beat a slate of other Democrats while likely facing staunch opposition from Maryland’s Democratic Party.