State Roundup, March 8, 2018

Print More

STATE TAX TAKE EXPECTED TO RISE: The Maryland agency that forecasts tax collections predicted Wednesday that the state will take in nearly $400 million more than previously expected this year and in 2019, giving the General Assembly and Gov. Larry Hogan some flexibility as they finalize the budget, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

TARGETED TAX RELIEF: Perhaps 9% of Marylanders would pay $200 million more in state taxes next year under plans a Senate committee approved Tuesday to give most taxpayers relief from the consequences of recent federal tax cuts. But some corporations will likely pay as much as $75-100 million more in state taxes since there are no plans at the State House to try to grant them similar relief after the Trump cuts gave them big breaks on federal taxes, Len Lazarick reports in MarylandReporter.

HOGAN BACKS FEDERAL REINSURANCE: Gov. Larry Hogan and the state’s legislative leaders on Wednesday embraced the idea of a federal reinsurance program that would help offset the expense of the sickest patients. In a letter to Maryland’s mostly Democratic congressional delegation, the Republican governor said the state is working to address premium increases caused by “recent federal actions,” but said the state has limited power to stem rate increases for the approximately 150,000 people buying private coverage through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

OVERTURN BAN ON SOME GUNS: In the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., a little more than five years ago, Maryland passed a law banning “assault weapons” and large-capacity, detachable magazines. The ban includes a long list of semi-automatic handguns and rifles, including AR-15-style rifles, like those used in several mass shootings, including last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Now Republican lawmakers in Annapolis are sponsoring a bill to remove the rifles and other long guns from the ban, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.

RX POT EXPANSION BILL: The Maryland House of Delegates is scheduled to vote today on whether to expand the number of licenses allowed to grow medical marijuana to increase minority business ownership. The number of allowed growers would rise from 15 to 20. The measure also would cap the number of marijuana processors at 25, the AP is reporting.

RX POT & INMATES: A local bill requested by Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore — related to medical marijuana and jails — could have statewide implications before the Maryland General Assembly is finished with it, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. Mullendore sought clarification of a law on medical marijuana as it pertains to inmates at the Washington County Detention Center. Mullendore noted that federal law still classifies the drug as illegal, and having it in the detention center would violate the law.

GLENDENING DISAVOWS EARLY RELEASE STANCE: Former Gov. Parris Glendening, who declared in 1995 that he would not grant early release to any prisoner serving a life sentence, denounced that stance Wednesday, Rachel Chason and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post report. Glendening, a Democrat, spoke at a news conference in Annapolis with former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Republican, as the Maryland General Assembly considers criminal justice bills, including one that would end a requirement for the governor to sign off on the parole of inmates sentenced to life.

DEDICATED METRO FUNDS: The Maryland House of Delegates gave tentative approval on Wednesday to a measure that would give the Washington, D.C.-area’s Metro system the first dedicated source of funding in its history, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters. The measure would give Metro $150 million a year in new funding, money the beleaguered system could use to improve maintenance and make capital improvements. Metro is the third busiest transit system in the nation, but it has never had a dedicated source of funds.

JHU PONDERS POLICE FORCE: Is Baltimore getting more dangerous, or do people just think it is? That question and others were raised by dozens of Johns Hopkins University students and faculty at a forum held Wednesday to discuss the prospect of the school’s creation of a new police force, Christina Tkacik of the Sun reports. Hopkins announced earlier this week that it was pursuing legislation in the Maryland Senate that would allow it and other private institutions in the city to create their own police forces.

AMAZON SPARKS DEBATE ON MO CO GROWTH: The fate of a long-delayed road project in an area on the shortlist for the next headquarters has lawmakers and observers debating: What’s the best way to bring development to Montgomery County? Jennifer Barrios of the Post is reporting the story.

LESSONS FROM TEXAS: Maryland and Texas have almost nothing in common. And yet Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primaries in the Lone Star State – which included the first congressional primaries since President Trump was elected – may provide some clues for how things will shake out here. Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that the results offered plenty of surprises and lots to chew on. First up? Women rule.

UPDATE ON FREE RIDES: Now only four senators are getting free rides back to the State House with no candidates filed against them in either the primary or the general election by last weeks filing deadline. There were originally seven sitting senators with no opposition, but the Republican Party named challengers for two Democrats, and a third Republican senator, Wayne Norman, died and was replaced by GOP Central Committee, Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes.

QUID PRO QUO?: For the second time in as many months, an elected official from Prince George’s County who received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the family of David Trone is endorsing the liquor retailer’s run for Congress in another part of the state. Freshman Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) on Tuesday announced his support for Trone’s campaign to succeed outgoing Rep. John Delaney in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. Earlier, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker endorsed Trone, Jenna Portnoy of the Post reports.

CITY TO SUE FEDS OVER PROGRAM CUTS: Ian Duncan of the Sun reports that Baltimore is planning to join a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration that challenges a cut in federal funding for programs designed to reduce teen pregnancy rates.

DANCE IN COURT: Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance is scheduled to appear in a Towson courtroom this morning to face perjury charges for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 he earned from consulting jobs — including one with a Chicago company that was paying him as he helped it win a contract with the school system, Liz Bowie and Doug Donovan of the Sun report.