State Roundup January 17, 2020

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HOGAN ASKS FOR TAX CUTS FOR RETIREES: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday proposed more than $1 billion in tax cuts for Maryland retirees, reports Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter.com. Under the proposal, 230,000 Marylanders would benefit and retirees who make $50,000 a year or less “will pay no state income tax whatsoever.” Retirees who make less than $100,000 a year “will see a tax reduction of no less than 50 percent — up to 100 percent,” he said.

  • Hogan called it the largest tax cut in Maryland in more than two decades, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. She notes Republicans have tried and failed to eliminate income taxes on retirees.
  • Hogan said an exodus of retirees to low-tax states was a key impetus for his decision to launch the nonprofit Change Maryland and seek public office so he could change tax policy to keep more retirees here, reports Erin Cox in the Post.
  • Too many Maryland retirees end up moving to states like Delaware, South Carolina and Florida, Hogan said, reports Holden Wilen for the Baltimore Business Journal.
  • The plan is a five-year phase-in that would steadily reduce the amount of income taxes retirees would have to pay – all the way to nothing, for some, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
  • His proposal comes as state lawmakers search for billions of dollars to fund the educational reforms recommended by the Kirwan Commission, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. Seniors are a potent voting bloc, but Hogan’s proposal is likely to face an uphill fight in the General Assembly.

GOP PUSHES FOR VIOLENT CRIME MEASURES: Maryland’s Republican state lawmakers are pressing for a series of bills that they say would help keep violent criminals behind bars and improve transparency in the judicial system, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

HATE-FILLED VOICEMAIL FOR MOSBY AS SHE STANDS UP FOR FEMALE, BLACK PROSECUTORS: Following a trip to Missouri to support St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner – who is suing her city and its police union, accusing them of waging a racist campaign to force her out of office –Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby received a hate-filled voicemail from a caller, using racist rhetoric and violent words, reports Kelly Broderick for WMAR2News.

HARFORD COUNTY EXEC WARNS OF EDUCATION REFORM COST: Harford County Executive Barry Glassman warned local business leaders that the state’s proposed education funding plan could ultimately cost them money if the cost is passed down to local governments or results in new taxes, reports Melody Simmons for the Baltimore Business Journal.

ANALYST CALLS FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORMS: A justice policy analyst pressed Thursday for Maryland to raise the age of offenders considered juveniles from the teens to 25, reports Steve Lash for The Daily Record. Juvenile justice and parole reform are needed to cure a Maryland prison system in which inmates are serving overly long sentences for crimes they committed as young adults, the analyst told a Senate panel.

GREENHOUSE GAS PLAN QUESTIONED: A draft plan from Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration to cut Maryland greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 is “truly vague,” a leading state senator said Thursday, reports Brian Witte for the AP. Sen. Paul Pinsky raised concerns over the administration’s assertions that the plan was on track to meeting its goal.

HOGAN MOVES TO BLOCK BSO FUNDS: Gov. Larry Hogan has asked the Maryland General Assembly to rescind a promised $1.6 million for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra — the second time in two years the governor has attempted to block emergency bridge funding aimed at stabilizing Maryland’s largest cultural institution, reports Mary Carole McCauley and Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

SENTINEL WILL STOP PUBLISHING: The Sentinel Newspapers, which covers Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, will publish its last edition Jan. 30, writes CEO/Publisher Lynn Kapiloff. “Our biggest fear is that two of the largest counties in the state of Maryland will go on without a voice from two notable flagship community, and that is what hurts the most,” she writes. “We represent two of the most influential communities, arguably in the nation, with some of the best talent that this industry has to offer.”

GETTING TOUGH IN RANSOMWARE CASES: State lawmakers heard arguments Tuesday on a bill that seeks to add criminal penalties for knowingly possessing ransomware with the intent to use it in a malicious way, reports Wesley Brown for the Capital News Service. It is already a crime in Maryland to use the malicious technology in a way that costs victims money — this bill would criminalize mere possession of the software.

PUSHBACK ON TRUMP POLICIES: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has joined 13 other states in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture that seeks to block a Trump administration rule that would cut off food stamp benefits to nearly 700,000 people nationwide, reports Louis Krauss for The Daily Record.

OBJECTION IN DELEGATE NOMINATION: Two Baltimore residents are calling for a revote of Baltimore Democratic leaders to nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Del. Cheryl Glenn, reports Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew. They are alleging half a dozen alleged violations including that the meeting interviewing candidates should have been open to the public and media for the entire time.

MFUME WANTS SEAT BACK: Kweisi Mfume is touting his political longevity as an asset that means he has the experience and gravitas to advocate on Capitol Hill for a struggling city, reports Jenna Portnoy for the Post.

  • Kweisi Mfume, who is running for Congress in part on his accomplishments as leader of the NAACP, had a more tumultuous tenure at the civil rights organization than previously known — leaving after several negative performance reviews and a vote by the executive committee not to grant him a new contract, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun.

PUGH HAS NEARLY $1 MILLION IN CAMPAIGN ACCOUNT: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who is awaiting sentencing on federal conspiracy and tax evasion charges, still has nearly $1 million in her campaign account even after paying back contributions from executives at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun.

MD GOP FINANCES UP $26K FROM PREVIOUS YEAR: Maryland’s Republican Party, hit with unexpectedly high costs associated with a fundraiser featuring Vice President Mike Pence in June, was able to rebound and finish the year in the black, reports Jeff Barker with the Sun.

MD DEM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RESIGNS: The Maryland Democratic Party’s executive director, Ben Smith, resigned Thursday, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. No reason for the departure was given.

SENATE MAY LIMIT NUMBER OF BILLS EACH SENATOR MAY INTRODUCE: Senate bills may become a hot commodity if a rule proposed this week is enacted, reports Ryan Little for the Capital News Service. The Senate Rules Committee is planning to meet Friday to consider limiting the number of bills any one senator can propose in the yearly 90-day session of the state’s General Assembly to no more than 20.

SILVER LINE DELAY: A quality control leader on Silver Line construction has provided new information about the thickness of concrete panels in stations, as the watchdog finalizes a report on one of the key issues that could further hold up the opening of the extension to Dulles International Airport and Ashburn, reports Max Smith for WTOP.

LANNY HARCHENHORN REMEMBERED: A former Carroll County state’s attorney and member of Maryland’s House of Delegates is being remembered for his service, his appreciation of President Lincoln and his love of music and cars, reports Akira Kyles for the Carroll County Times. A memorial service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. for Vernon “Lanny” Harchenhorn, of New Windsor.