State Roundup, April 11, 2018

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The governor and presiding officers sign the health insurance stabilization act. The people behind them include Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey, sponsor Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, and CarefFrst President Chet Burrell.. Governor’s Office photo

BIPARTISANSHIP PREVAILS: In a record year in which 3,127 bills and joint resolutions were introduced, 890 bills or 28% were passed and 142 have already become laws, most of them (114) in Tuesday’s bill signing, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter. At the signing ceremony, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continued to tout bipartisan cooperation and the contrast with Washington inaction, a theme he plans to carry through his reelection campaign in heavily Democratic Maryland.

  • “Unlike Washington, where nobody works together and nothing seems to get done, here in Annapolis we have chosen a different path,” Hogan said during Tuesday’s bill signing. The first bill Hogan signed — and one he praised as an example of bipartisanship — was a school safety bill sponsored by Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, a Baltimore County Democrat who is one of the Republican Party’s leading targets in the November election, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.
  • Bipartisanship prevailed also with the passing and signing into law of the legislation that will keep health insurance premiums from soaring this year, Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason write in the Post. If the government did not act, Gov. Hogan said, all residents would have faced a “crisis,” including anticipated increases in premiums of between 30% and 50% and the possible departure of CareFirst, Maryland’s only statewide insurer.
  • Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that Gov. Larry Hogan described it as “probably our most successful session out of all four years.” The Democratic-controlled legislature in Annapolis could say the same. From dedicated funding for Metro to a one-year fix to stabilize the state’s health-care exchange to plans to stem violence in schools and prevent sexual harassment in state government, Democrats and Republicans joined forces to pass key legislation ahead of November’s elections, which include the governor’s race and all state legislative seats.
  • In a brisk signing ceremony the morning after legislators adjourned for the year, Hogan and Democratic legislative leaders came together to sign more than 100 bills into law, including a piece of school safety legislation that passed the General Assembly nearly unanimously, Danielle Gaines and Kelsi Loos report in the Frederick News-Post. The measure creates statewide standards for school safety to require standardized training and certification for school resource officers, expands the work of the Maryland Center for School Safety, and requires each school system in Maryland to develop assessment teams to identify students whose behavior may pose a threat and to provide interventions.
  • Several measures, such as one to let voters weigh in on sports betting, failed to make it out of committees and on to the floor of the chambers. But many of the weightiest issues — the state’s budget, changes to the tax code in light of the federal tax overhaul and measures to shore up Maryland’s private insurance exchange — already had been dealt with prior to Monday. Unlike previous sessions, the governor and legislative leaders invoked the phrase “bipartisan effort” and actually meant it, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.

COPS BANNED FROM SEX WITH THOSE IN CUSTODY: Amid the hundreds of bills approved by Maryland’s legislature during its 90-day session is one making it illegal for police officers to have sex with people in their custody, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. Baltimore Del. Brooke Lierman proposed the measure — which passed both the Senate and House of Delegates unanimously — after the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of the Baltimore Police Department noted complaints that officers were pressuring people in their custody for sex.

FREE COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION: Thousands of students seeking degrees and professional certificates at Maryland community colleges could be eligible for free tuition from the state under a compromise the General Assembly passed in the final minutes of its 2018 legislative session, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

ARUNDEL BILLS THAT STALLED: Two Anne Arundel-sponsored bills — one prohibiting the intimidating display of nooses and swastikas and another targeting the political consulting work of a state’s attorney’s office employee — stalled just as the Maryland General Assembly ended its 2018 session, writes Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital.

WA CO BILLS SIGNED: Included in the bill signing were a few Washington County ones sponsored by first-time Washington County Del. Paul Corderman, who was appointed by the Republican Central Committee shortly before the session started. Corderman replaced Brett Wilson, who was appointed circuit judge last fall, Tamela Baker reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

CYBERBULLYING BILL: Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that a bill to expand Maryland’s law against cyberbullying of youngsters died amid constitutional concerns in the House Judiciary Committee this General Assembly session but will be resurrected next year, the measure’s chief sponsor said Tuesday.

SUIT SEEKS TO OUST OAKS’ NAME FROM BALLOT: A Baltimore law firm has filed litigation to remove disgraced state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks’ name from the June primary ballot after the lawmaker was convicted of federal crimes. The suit also seeks to declare unconstitutional Maryland statutes that freeze the primary election day ballot almost four months in advance of the election.

POT ACTIVIST WORKS TO OUST HARRIS: Adam Eidinger may be the District’s best-known cannabis crusader. From his head shop in Adams Morgan, he led a successful campaign to decriminalize possession and private use of small amounts of pot. Eidinger says he reached the limit of what he can do as a D.C. resident. Which is why he has moved to Maryland, where he will work to oust Republican Rep. Andy Harris, the staunch anti-statehood lawmaker known for blocking full legalization of recreational marijuana in the District. Eidinger is backing Allison Galbraith, one of five Democrats competing to challenge Harris, who is seeking a fifth term in November, reports Jenna Portnoy for the Post.

BROWN BACKS ALSOBROOKS: Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) announced Tuesday that he is backing State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks in the race for Prince George’s County executive. Brown succeeded Donna F. Edwards — one of Alsobrooks’s leading rivals — in the 4th Congressional District seat and served two terms as lieutenant governor under Martin O’Malley (D), Rachel Chason of the Post is reporting.

VOTE BY MAIL IN ROCKVILLE: Next year, the mailbox will become the ballot box in one Maryland city, Jennifer Barrios reports for the Post. Late Monday night, the Rockville City Council voted unanimously to move its city elections to a vote-by-mail format — meaning the city’s roughly 40,000 registered voters will receive their official ballots by mail and can return them by mail, beginning with the November 2019 election.