Rascovar: Hogan dodges Trump bullet; thoughts on fracking, Pugh

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan can thank his lucky stars the bitter and intractable Republican disputes in Washington sabotaged plans to do away with the nation’s current healthcare plan, the Affordable Care Act. Passage of the Trumpcare alternative – imposing horrific added costs on older Americans, endangering Medicare funding and removing healthcare coverage for 14 million citizens next year – would have had cataclysmic effects in Maryland and placed Hogan on an untenable political hot seat.

Rascovar: Saving the Preakness and Pimlico’s future

Thanks to revenue from Maryland’s successful slots casinos, the state’s thoroughbred racing industry has seen a re-birth that hints at prosperity for the Free State’s billion-dollar horse industry in future decades. To keep those good times a-rollin’, though, will require a major investment by Annapolis political leaders and by their counterparts in Baltimore City.

Rascovar: Hogan’s Trump trouble

The 2018 election is looking more and more like a national referendum on Donald Trump’s manic, unpredictable presidency. If that become the case, Hogan’s continuation in office could hang by a thread.

Rascovar: Delegate Morhaim’s moment of shame

It had to be one of the most painful and humiliating moments of Dan Morhaim’s life. Last Friday he sat in the House of Delegates chamber as his colleagues voted 138-0 to reprimand him for not informing them and a state commission he had a conflict of interest on medical marijuana issues.

Rascovar: To frack or not to frack?

Environmentalists view hydraulic fracturing of black Marcellus shale in mountainous Garrett County as pure evil sure to pollute drinking water, pristine streams, the health of citizens and lay waste to 100,000 acres in the state’s most remote county. Proponents say that’s buncombe. Done safely and with plenty of state oversight, “fracking” as it is called can be accomplished – and is accomplished all over the country – without damning side effects. The fight over a permanent ban continues this year in Annapolis.

Rascovar: Giving Frosh his independence

You can’t blame Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr., for getting irritated over the Maryland attorney general’s new authority – granted by the General Assembly – to sue the federal government without the governor’s permission. This strips Hogan of a smidgen of his enormous powers. Yet if the Republican chief executive truly wished to stop this slight weakening of his powers all he did to do was pick up the phone and negotiate a compromise.

Rascovar: Avoiding Maryland’s Pension Reality

No one wants to face up to Maryland’s giant $19 billion long-term shortfall in its retirement program for state workers and teachers, writes columnist Barry Rascovar. Not the Republican governor nor the Democratic legislature. Gov. Larry Hogan is calling for a dramatic change – an optional 401(k)-style retirement program for new state employees. It sounds good but falls apart when examined close up.

Rascovar: Hogan and the Trump elephant in the room

You can chalk up his most recent State of the State speech to political hype and self-congratulatory back-patting. If there’s anything wrong happening in Maryland, it’s not his fault but those self-absorbed Democrats. Nary a negative word was sounded by Hogan – until he took some swipes at Democrats. There’s no surprise here, writes Barry Rascovar. What did come as a surprise was Hogan’s complete avoidance of the proverbial elephant in the room – widespread fear and trembling as a radical populist takes charge of the U.S. government just 32 miles away.

Rascovar: Hogan politicizes ethics reforms

On Thursday, Hogan posed in front of the State House steps so he could rail against the “culture of corruption” in Maryland’s legislature – though evidence of this “culture” is limited to a handful of examples. Then he marched up the steps in photo-op fashion to present his ethics reform bills to House and Senate officials. Columnist Barry Rascovar writes that Hogan’s bombastic rhetoric on legislative corruption also was understandable. It’s all about positioning Hogan in his reelection bid as the white knight doing battle with evil Democrats in the General Assembly.