State Roundup, September 1, 2017

Print More

HAPPY LABOR DAY WEEKEND. State Roundup will return on Tuesday.

HOGAN TO SEEK $68M IN CUTS: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will push for about $68 million in budget cuts next week, a move to rein in spending approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser of the Sun report. Although there is no sign Maryland will have less money than anticipated this year, Budget Secretary David R. Brinkley said Thursday that the administration is “trying to get ahead of the curve” on a revenue shortfall projected for next year.

  • The proposed cuts range from about 0.1% to 3.6% for each affected agency, including reducing health department spending by $22 million, eliminating 30 positions at public higher education institutions to save $8 million; trimming more than $8 million from the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; and reducing by $6 million state grants for low-wealth jurisdictions that struggle to raise revenue through local taxes.
  • Bryan Sears of the Daily Record report that while the General Assembly’s top budget analyst called the list of reductions unsurprising and prudent, some Democratic lawmakers say the moves are the result of Hogan’s political rhetoric and a failure to lead on budgetary issues. State law allows for the governor, through the three-member Board of Public Works he chairs, to reduce the budget by as much as 25 percent while the legislature is out of session. Three governors — two Democrats and one Republican  preceding Hogan — have also used the process.

STABILIZING ACA: The Sun’s editorial board opines that even though every one says that Maryland’s increasing rates for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act’s individual market are unsustainable, is there much Maryland can do about it? In short, yes. The state’s leaders may not be able to stop President Donald Trump from sowing continued instability in the insurance markets or from undermining the law’s key provisions. But there are steps other states have taken that could at the least ameliorate the problem.

STATEWIDE OPIOID STRATEGY: The state government is in the midst of rolling out a multifaceted, statewide strategy to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, but one of the biggest difficulties can be getting communities to buy in, according to the man leading the effort. Tapped by Gov. Larry Hogan to serve as opioid emergency response coordinator last spring, Clay Stamp is a longtime emergency services professional. But Stamp said he has been struck by “how very different this crisis is,” Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes.

OPIOID ADDICTION RESEARCH: A University of Maryland researcher who successfully, if temporarily, reversed the effects of cocaine addiction in mice is expanding her research into opioid addiction in the hopes of eventually developing a treatment for humans, Carrie Wells writes in the Sun. Meaghan Creed, an assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, used electrical stimulation in the brains of mice coupled with medicine to reverse permanent changes caused by cocaine addiction. The research eventually could lead to development of new treatment options for substance abuse disorders.

ROUTE 32 IMPROVEMENTS: Gov. Larry Hogan and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman spoke together in Clarksville yesterday at the groundbreaking for the expansion of Route 32, writes Kate Magill for the Howard County Times. The project, the first of three phases to improve traffic flow in the notoriously congested area, will widen Route 32 between Route 108 and Linden Church Road. The $37.5 million in improvements will be split between the county and the state.

TUBMAN ON THE $20 NOW IN DOUBT: Two Maryland Democrats urged Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to follow through on a plan to feature abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill after the administration appeared to cast doubt on that idea Thursday. “We will be looking at this issue. It’s not something that I’m focused on at the moment,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview when asked if he supports the plan, announced by the Obama administration, to redesign the $20 bill with an image of Tubman in place of Andrew Jackson, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

DEL. McKAY DECIDES TO RUN FOR RE-ELECTION: Del. Mike McKay, R-Washington/Allegany, said Thursday he will run for re-election to the House of Delegates in legislative District 1C in next year’s Republican primary, although he had said he planned to run for Allegany County register of wills. But with the recent appointment of former Cumberland Councilwoman Mary Beth Pirolozzi to that position, McKay said he has decided to run for re-election. There are now three Republicans vying for the party‘s nomination in District 1C. Hancock attorney Jordan Lysczek filed Wednesday, and former Cumberland Councilwoman Nicole Alt-Myers filed last week, Tamela Baker reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

BLUE CATFISH REGS: Chesapeake Bay watermen and processors who handle blue catfish — an invader eating its way through the Potomac and several other major river systems — may face a less burdensome federal inspection process than they expected when a long-anticipated regulation goes into effect, the Bay Journal’s Rona Kobell writes for MarylandReporter.

SCHUH UNVEILS ANTI-RACISM INITIATIVE: Amid clashes between white supremacists and civil rights activists alongside county incidents such as nooses left at a middle school, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh plans to unveil an initiative against “racism and hatred,” writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. Anne Arundel United will lay out plans on how the county will tackle racial issues and unite the county.

RX POT & ZONING LAW: More than 50 people showed up to attend a Baltimore City Council committee meeting about zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, but it became clear early on that city council members do not know much about the state’s medical marijuana program, Holden Wilen reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.