State Roundup, April 27, 2017

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O’MALLEY DEPOSED ON REDISTRICTING: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley was deposed Wednesday by attorneys in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s 2011 redistricting process, which O’Malley oversaw.  Josh Hicks of the Sun writes that the lawyers deposed Senate President Mike Miller  on Monday and House Speaker Michael Busch  last week.

STATE MAY LOSE TAX DEDUCTION: A federal tax outline unveiled Wednesday by President Donald Trump’s administration calls for ending the deduction on state and local taxes, eliminating a provision used more in Maryland than anywhere else in the nation, writes John Fritze in the Sun. Forty-five percent of Maryland filers took the state and local tax deduction in 2014, the highest share in the country, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

HOGAN SR. FUNERAL SERVICES SET: Funeral services for former Rep. Lawrence J. Hogan Sr., father of Gov. Larry Hogan, will be held Saturday at St. Mary’s in Annapolis, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. The elder Hogan, 88, died last week at Anne Arundel County Medical Center after a stroke.

DEFINING MOMENTS, LESSONS LEARNED: Former Republican speech writer Richard Cross, in a column for Maryland Matters, looks back at a defining moment in the elder Hogan’s life, writing, “as one who reads and learns from history, I am intrigued by some of the parallels and differences between father, son, and the two controversial presidents with whom each contended, and the mutual challenges of being a Republican from a solidly blue state such as Maryland. One relationship is a well-reported matter of history; the other is a work in progress. Nonetheless, knowledge of the former may help us better understand the latter.”

HOGAN TO IGNORE BUDGET LANGUAGE: Gov. Larry Hogan said he will ignore budget language meant to curb the role of the Board of Public Works in giving final approval to recommendations for state school construction funding, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. Hogan, speaking at the board’s Wednesday meeting, said the language violates the state constitution and he would not follow it. The governor was joined in his comments by Comptroller Peter Franchot, who promised to increase his focus on oversight of the Interagency Committee on School Construction.

BEER REFORM TASK FORCE: Four people from Annapolis were named Wednesday to a new committee state Comptroller Peter Franchot will lead to study Maryland’s beer laws, the Annapolis Capital reports. Creation of the “Reform On Tap” Task Force follows legislation passed by the General Assembly this year that changed state law to accommodate Guinness’ proposed $50 million project in Relay while letting so-called production breweries such as Flying Dog and Heavy Seas sell four times as many pints in their taprooms each year.

BEER ON TAP: What with the prospect of Irish beer giant Guinness opening a brewery and tap room in southwestern Baltimore County this fall you might think local craft brewers and bar owners would be worried. You’d be wrong. In fact, they’re salivating at the prospect, figuring a rising tide of beer will lift all kegs, John Lee reports for WYPR-FM..

EMPLOYED AND STRUGGLING IN MD: Maryland’s working poor face myriad obstacles to better employment and have difficulty making ends meet, despite having jobs that pay better than minimum wage, civic and education leaders said at a forum Wednesday, writes Carrie Wells in the Sun. More than half of jobs in Maryland pay less than $20 an hour, with most paying $10 to $15 an hour. Yet the average survival budget for a family of four with an infant and a preschooler is $61,000.

  • The editorial board for the Sun opines about the situation, writing that by traditional measures, Maryland looks like a prosperous place. Not only is the typical household income here among the highest in the nation, but the poverty rate, at about 10%, is among the lowest. But hidden in plain sight are another quarter of the state’s households for whom meeting the basic necessities of life is a daily struggle.

CASINO MONEY FOR EDUCATION: Maryland Casinos are on pace to have a record year in 2017, generating nearly $2 billion in revenue. Maryland voters approved casinos thinking much of the revenue would go to educating our kids. So, if casinos are going gangbusters, why can’t schools like Baltimore City pay their bills? The money is going to the schools. Chris Papst of WBFF-TV reports that there is a catch. What started as $49 million in 2011 is expected to be $546 million this year. As casino money poured into education, Annapolis cut school funding from other places. In 2009, Maryland spent 21% of its General Fund Budget on education. This coming year, it will be 18%.

HIGH QUALITY TEACHING: The Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education met Wednesday in Annapolis, reports Kevin Kinnally in the Conduit Street blog. Chaired by former University System Chancellor Brit Kirwan, the commission focused on high-quality teaching and school leadership development. The Commission heard testimony from Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who discussed teacher compensation in Maryland. Tucker noted that starting pay for teachers in top-performing countries is typically at the top of the civil service scale and higher than or equal to beginning engineers, accountants, and registered nurses. 

SALES TAX HIKE PROPOSED TO AID METRO: A new report released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recommends that jurisdictions in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., raise their sales tax by 1% to provide a dedicated funding source to pay for properly repairing the Metro system, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.

  • After studying the issue for more than a year, the group said a one-cent-per-dollar sales tax would generate enough money — $650 million annually — to keep the transit system safe and reliable. It also would yield enough extra money to pay for some expansion of the system, Robert McCartney reports in the Post.

EX DEL. ALSTON SEEKS BAR REINSTATEMENT: Former Del. Tiffany T. Alston, who was ousted from the House of Delegates in 2012 after being found guilty of theft and misconduct in office and later consented to disbarment, will likely be reinstated to the bar, perhaps as early as next month, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

DEM RUNS FOR GOVERNOR: Alec Ross, a best-selling author, entrepreneur and former adviser to Hillary Clinton, announced Wednesday he will run for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the 2018 election, Colin Campbell writes for the Sun.

ANNAPOLIS DEM CHAIR RESIGNS: Former state Sen. John Giannetti resigned Monday as chairman of the Annapolis Democratic party leadership, citing the need to face possible professional sanctions sought by the state Attorney Grievance Commission, Pat Furgurson of the Annapolis Capital writes. His resignation follows an April 14 story in the Capital reporting that he could be disbarred or face other disciplinary action over his apparent failure to file or pay federal and state income taxes in a timely manner for seven years.

BA CO DEM COMMITTEE MEMBER RESIGNS: A member of the Baltimore County Public Schools Board of Education has resolved, at least temporarily, a legal conflict between her role with the school system and her position on the county’s Democratic Central Committee. Marisol Johnson, 37, said Wednesday that she has resigned her position on the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee. The resignation is effective immediately, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

WA CO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER OUSTER: A written opinion issued Tuesday by the Maryland State Board of Education appears to signal the immediate end of Karen Harshman’s tenure as a school board member in Washington County, writes CJ Lovelace for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. But officials involved admit the exact procedure is a bit murky due to a lack of precedent in a rare instance.

MARYLANDER HIRED AS SPECIAL COUNSEL: Former National Security Agency lawyer and Marylander April Doss has been hired to serve as special counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, John Fritze is reporting in the Sun.  Doss, an Annapolis woman who spent more than a decade at the NSA, will be senior counsel for the Democrats on the probe. Some Democrats have voiced frustration at pace of that investigation.

HOOD PRES ACTIONS PRAISED: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post praises Hood College President Andrea Chapdelaine, who sought to quell the disruption caused by an installation that was put up by the school’s College Republicans club at the Whitaker Campus Center last week. Officials at Hood College are right to investigate whether the display violated school policy. Chapdelaine sought to defuse the tensions caused by the piece and affirmed the school’s commitment to providing both a platform for differing points of view as well as a “safe and respectful place” for all members of the student body.

  • Bumpy Head

    After we’re done deposing O’Malley, he should be jailed for what he did to the citizens of Maryland.