Hours after the House of Delegates gave final approval to broad new powers for Attorney General Brian Frosh to sue the federal government, he was in front of a House committee asking for $1 million a year to hire five lawyers for his new mission. The delegates approved the new powers for the Democratic AG to go after the Trump administration without the permission of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in a straight party line vote 89-50, with all Republicans opposed.
By following normal legislative procedure, the House of Delegates Tuesday defused the political fireworks that went off in the Maryland Senate five days earlier when Democrats rammed through a broad expansion of the powers of the Democratic attorney to sue the federal government. A somewhat muted response by House Republicans also helped to reduce the heat by limiting their debate to a single amendment focusing on the constitutional authority legislators were handing over to the Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh.
These interfaith centers in Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills, the first religious facilities built in the planned new town, were among the unique features most often remarked on with wonder in media coverage of Columbia. While they were consistent with the open, integrated and forward-thinking city Jim Rouse had in mind, they were not part of the original planning process at all.
Over the strong protests of Republicans and a few Democrats, the Maryland Senate quickly gave preliminary approval to a bill to expand the powers of Maryland’s attorney general, allowing him to challenge any action by the federal government that harms the health and welfare of Maryland citizens. The measure, SJ5, the Maryland Defense Act, was sponsored by most Senate Democrats and its entire leadership and is clearly aimed at the Trump administration. The bill had a hearing just Wednesday, and was swiftly voted out of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on a party line vote hours later, and then was rushed to the Senate floor, where its Democratic sponsors refused to give opponents a day to look at the proposal and make possible amendments — a common courtesy at this point in the session.
Trump’s actions have given Maryland Democrats a bigger club to try to beat down the popularity of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and his chances for reelection. Hogan is not likely to cave into Democratic demands that he publicly stand up to Trump. He’s more likely to bow down to the president in private, and hope for the best. It is not clear what Democrats think having Hogan join them in loudly opposing the president would achieve, other than further alienating a president hyper-sensitive to public criticism and any of his supporters in Maryland.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley now says he supports “non-partisan redistricting commissions not only for drawing Congressional districts every ten years, but for state legislative districts as well,” even while admitting he engaged in partisan gerrymandering as a Democratic governor. “We must, on a state by state basis, push for an end to gerrymandered Congressional districts,” he told an audience Tuesday at the Boston College law school, where he is a distinguished visiting professor.
Maryland’s legislative leaders are getting pressure to fix their approach to spending not just from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan but from their own top budget expert, Warren Deschenaux. In his analysis of the $43.5 billion state budget Hogan sent to the legislature last week, Deschenaux told legislators Monday, “This is another kick-the-can-down-the-road budget,” putting off hard choices about future spending.
Health care was another key element the original Columbia planners focused on in their 1964 work sessions. Unlike the schools, land use, water, sewer and political structure, for which the Rouse Co. planners eventually would turn to government institutions that already existed in Howard County, they would need to look beyond its borders for help. The opening of the Columbia Hospital and Clinics in 1973, would be one of the most controversial aspects of Columbia’s early years. Its creation was fraught with community tension, political discord and hostility among competing groups, creating ill-will outside of Columbia that would last for decades. Links to all parts of the series published so far are at the bottom of the article.
New polling results funded by the state teachers union finds broad bipartisan support for increased funding for public education, even if it means “closing corporate loopholes and raising income taxes on the state’s highest earners.” The poll taken late last month by Gonzales Research was part of the same survey that found 74% approval ratings for the job Gov. Larry Hogan is doing. But the results of the questions on education would seem to put the same voters at odds with Hogan’s strong opposition to new taxes and strong support of increased funding for private school scholarships.
House Speaker Michael Busch on Tuesday thanked the U.S. attorney and the FBI “for their due diligence in completing this investigation” into Prince George’s County corruption that may put as many as three former and current delegates in prison. Actually the investigation is not be completed at all. But the person who should be really grateful to the feds for their probe and the awkward timing of their announcement is Gov. Larry Hogan.