Not a strong first half of the debate, but a much better second half. It may have been a consequential night for the candidates. Not a good night for Rubio, certainly not in the first half of the debate; a strong night for Christie; a good night for Bush; a pretty good night for Kasich, Cruz and Trump, who was a little less egocentric and baiting than usual -- a little. Commentary by Rick Vatz and Len Lazarick.
The tone of Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State address to the legislature Wednesday was far more conciliatory than last year. But for many Democrats the tune was all too familiar, and they weren’t singing along. Addressing the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, he used the word “together” 26 times and the word “bipartisan” six times in his half-hour speech.
A conservative Republican leader and one of the most liberal Democrats in the House of Delegates are co-sponsoring legislation that would require video streaming of all sessions of the House and Senate and their committees, including voting sessions.
Legislators are bringing back a proposed requirement for paid sick leave. Employers are already pushing back against the proposal, commissioning a poll that shows Marylanders support the concept of paid sick leave, but withdraw their support when told of its negative consequences. Advocates for paid sick leave derided the poll, saying it was a "push poll," pushing people toward opposition with consequences that don't exist. They cited a study of Seattle employers after that city passed a requirement for paid sick leave that found very few consequences.
One of the most contentious issues to be debated during this year’s General Assembly session will be the renewed effort to legalize physician assisted suicide. Proponents of physician assisted suicide often claim that they want an honest debate on this issue and insist that if people knew the true facts they would prevail. However, their entire movement is shrouded in euphemism and artifice.
As the legislature's budget analysts drilled down in the governor's $42 billion spending plan, they've come up with a few surprises that weren't previously announced. Members of the fiscal committees were briefed Tuesday.
Mark Plaster has a big, black, 38-foot RV with his name plastered all over it. You may have seen it in Annapolis or Bowie or Olney or Burtonsville or Silver Spring or Towson or Columbia or Baltimore. In other words, you may have seen the RV all over the odd-shaped 3rd congressional district, the second most-gerrymandered district in the country. “That’s why we bought the bus,” said Plaster. “We want to have a presence throughout the district.” Republican Plaster is running (or should that be riding?) for Congress, hoping to unseat Democrat John Sarbanes.
Legislators and nonprofit groups are still digesting the $42.3 billion budget Gov. Larry Hogan submitted Wednesday. But there were few signs of indigestion over a proposal that increases spending by $2 billion (5%), while setting aside a record $1.5 billion in reserves and surplus. "We don't know until we get into all the details" is the way House Speaker Michael Busch summed it up after breakfast with the governor and fiscal leaders. House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh had lots of unanswered questions, as well.
Gov. Larry Hogan will submit his fiscal 2017 budget to the legislature Wednesday, but he won't be briefing reporters about it. Skipping a budget routine that goes back a dozen years or more, Hogan will not unveil his overall budget and the thick five-volume set of budget books that go with it in the governor's formal reception room. That duty will be handled by Budget Secretary David Brinkley in his offices two blocks from the State House.
The state teachers union and their allies in the legislature are backing a series of measures to reduce standardized testing in Maryland public schools, apparently dissatisfied with the pace of a commission on testing they pushed for last year.