State Roundup, February 5, 2018

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SICK LEAVE DELAY: Emergency legislation pushing back the effective date of Maryland’s sick-leave legislation to July 1, as amended in committee Friday, is scheduled before the full Senate at its Monday night session, writes William Zorzi for Maryland Matters. The bill, which requires employers to pay sick leave earned by nearly 700,000 workers in the state, was vetoed by the governor last year, then overridden by the General Assembly last month as one of its first orders of business. Under the bill as overridden, the effective date for the state to begin enforcement is Feb. 11 — 30 days after the Jan. 12 override date.

FACING CANCER WITH GOOD HUMOR: Gov. Larry Hogan will probably be sporting bandages on his face for a few days, so explaining that he was having the most common form of skin cancers removed on Saturday was probably a wise way to get ahead of potentially scary news. “Scars are cool. I hate to mess with this beautiful face,” Hogan said. MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick writes about how the governor’s face has changed since his battle with lymphoma. Hogan also takes positions on income tax relief bills and the education lockbox.

IMPACT OF FEDERAL TAX REFORM: In light of massive changes to the federal tax code, Maryland’s elected officials are pushing a variety of proposals designed to lessen the impact on state taxes, Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News Post reports. The Senate Republican Caucus was the most recent group to come forward with ideas Thursday, with a plan to allow people to file itemized state deductions even if they file standard federal deductions. They also called for increased tax deductions or lower rates to keep state tax bills at the same level.

INMATES & RX POT: Maryland’s new medical cannabis program posed a bit of a quandary for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office when a registered patient became an inmate in the county’s detention center. Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that the result could be legislation designed to protect law enforcement from lawsuits for declining to distribute it. Sheriff Douglas Mullendore told members of the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly last week that the program posed “obstacles” for law enforcement.

CHILD CARE VOUCHERS: For the first time in more than 15 years, the little-known child care subsidy is getting election-year attention from politicians in Annapolis. The value of the voucher has failed to keep pace with rising costs for so long that it now covers costs only at the cheapest 9% of child care centers in Maryland — among the lowest market values in the country, and far below the 75% threshold recommended by the federal government, Yvonne Wenger and Erin Cox of the Sun report.

STADIUM COMPACT: Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes proposed legislation from Dels. David Moon (D-Montgomery) and Trent L. Kittleman (R-Howard) that would create a compact in which Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., would agree to not provide public funding, or free or below-market land, to the Washington Redskins as they begin a search for a new stadium.

CITY OFFICIALS BACK MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: Baltimore City elected officials today plan to throw their support behind a proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 after the mayor vetoed a similar bill for the city last year, writes Adam Bednar for the Daily Record.

FIGHTING OPIOID PROBLEM: The editorial board for the Sun opines that the centerpiece of Gov. Larry Hogan’s new plan to combat opioid addiction and Maryland’s epidemic of overdoses is a recognition that treatment for those who are incarcerated is one of the crucial missing links in the state’s efforts. That’s vitally important. But commissioning a study of the feasibility of creating a new treatment facility on the site of the now shuttered Baltimore City Detention Center is drawing some questions from treatment advocates who ask whether the money to build a new facility could better be spent on programs to keep addicts out of jail in the first place.

STATE REGULATORS ORDERED TO PAY: Maryland state regulators who stripped a Rockville physician’s credentials are now in the hot seat, ordered to each personally pay tens of thousands of dollars in damages by a judge who says the board abused its power in an attempt to humiliate the doctor and his family. The physician had built a medical practice and a national reputation for propagating the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism. The Maryland Board of Physicians suspended his license seven years ago because he was treating autistic children with a drug considered dangerous for young people and not known to alleviate symptoms of the disorder, Fenit Nirappil reports for the Post.

DEL. MORHAIM TO RETIRE: Dan Morhaim announced in a Facebook post early Sunday that he will retire at the end of his term next year after 24 years in the Maryland General Assembly, Andrea McDaniels reports in the Sun.

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ON CRAIG WOLF: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters snags an interview with Craig Wolf, the Republican attorney from Howard County who hopes to unseat Brian Frosh as attorney general. “I am not risk averse,” said Wolf, who noted that he also rides a motorcycle. For Wolf, it’s all about public service. He spent years as a prosecutor in Allegany County, then worked in the Justice Department and for the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.

ELUSIVE YOUTH VOTE: John Lee of WYPR-FM writes about a gubernatorial forum at Goucher College where the focus was issues raised by young people, who tend not to vote. Those issues included student debt and harassment.

$800,000 IN PUBLIC FINANCING: In their Political Roundup column for Bethesda Beat, Louis Peck and Andrew Metcalf report that Montgomery candidates received nearly $800,000 from public campaign finance system in January and Chevy Chase attorney jumps back into District 16 race to oppose the Amazon incentive package.

YOUNG CANDIDATE RACKS UP SUPPORT: Montgomery County Council candidate Ben Shnider was born in 1989, about a decade after the incumbent he is challenging in the Democratic primary was first elected to public office, Rachel Siegel reports for the Post. Incumbent Sidney Katz says his long experience in politics and government is invaluable — especially in Maryland’s largest jurisdiction. But Shnider is pushing back against that claim, piling up campaign cash and endorsements and aggressively knocking on voters’ doors to make the case that new, more progressive blood is needed.

HO CO TO SUE DRUG FIRMS: Howard County this week will take its first steps toward filing a lawsuit against drug companies that make powerful painkillers that have been linked to tens of thousands of overdose deaths nationwide, reports Kate Magill for the Howard County Times.

NEW SUPER SEARCH? With time running out to conduct a national search for a new superintendent, the Baltimore County school board is expected to discuss Tuesday whether to initiate that process or to keep the current interim superintendent, Verletta White. Liz Bowie of the Sun writes that the Baltimore County school board has received bids from firms to conduct a national search. Board Chairman Edward Gilliss said he expects the board to discuss whether to hire a search firm. White’s one-year contract expires June 30.

ARUNDEL COUNCIL PAY HIKE: The members of the Anne Arundel County Council will take up legislation today that would increase their pay in accordance with the 2017 Salary Standard Commission’s report, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital is reporting. That bill would increase the council chair annual salary from $40,500 to $43,350 in December 2018. It would increase up to $46,003 through December 2021. The vice chair of the council would receive increases up to $42,216 from $37,000 through 2021. And non-chair council members would jump from $36,000 to $41,311 through 2021. These increases are gradual each year, and if approved would mark the first salary change for the council since 2002.

POT GROWER IN TANEYTOWN: Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times writes about a marijuana growing company in Taneytown, just one of 15 in the state licensed to grow medical marijuana.