Gov. Larry Hogan won this legislative session by not losing too much and not giving Democrats ammunition against his reelection campaign. Hogan also won with success on issues where he cooperated more than usual with Democrats, and by choosing to fight them, and lose, only on issues where he held the high ground.
It was the coldest final day of the Maryland General Assembly that anyone could remember. Sine Die (sign-ee die) in State House speak is usually warm and sunny. For at least nine senators and 29 delegates, it will be the last session in their current posts. Here is a gallery of photos to give a flavor of the day.
Montgomery County legislators continue to advocate many proposals to encourage people to vote, such as same-day voter registration. But one of the most daunting aspects of voting in Montgomery County is the ballot itself.
Maryland’s governor has long been considered one of the most powerful in the country, mainly because of his control over spending and appointments. The Maryland General Assembly has for decades sought to chip away at the governor’s power, mainly through spending mandates and other legal restraints. Last week’s action in the Senate and House to pass a new mandate on school construction and take the governor out of the decisions on what schools should be funded is just another chapter in that ongoing drive to shift the balance of power.
A few more Republican delegates than usual voted against the House version of Gov. Hogan’s $44.5 billion budget Thursday. The final vote was 126-11. The GOP members repeatedly tried to take $1 million away from Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh and his lawsuits against the Trump administration, and they also attempted to provide more income tax relief than Democrats were willing to offer from the windfall the state will reap from the federal tax cuts.
The Maryland Senate on Thursday unanimously passed the state’s $44.5 billion budget for fiscal 2019, just 2.2% higher than this year’s spending plan. The senators heaped bipartisan praise on budget committee chairman Ed Kasemeyer, who is retiring from the Senate this year and got three standing ovations from his colleagues over the past three days as he presented the budget.
This is the last legislative session for 10 senators and 29 delegates as they leave their seats to others, whether by retiring or running for other offices. (We missed two delegates in the first posting, and fixed a couple of incorrect party designations.) Primary and general elections may unseat other lawmakers, but here is the list of the lawmakers that will produce at least a 20% turnover in both chambers.
The Maryland Senate Monday night gave final approval to a $20,000 pay raise for 312 Maryland judges over the next four years, $15,000 less than was recommended by the Judicial Compensation Commission in January. The pay raise in House Joint Resolution 3 as passed by the Senate and House also will boost the pensions for 417 retired judges and their surviving beneficiaries by as much as $13,340 a year since those payments are based on the salaries of current judges.
A new study for a conservative think-tank criticizes the large unfunded retiree benefits of the Prince George’s County Public Schools, saying it threatens to “crowd out” increased spending on education.
The Shore Power Project, launched several years ago at Washington College, has helped local governments on Maryland’s Eastern Shore find ways to reduce energy costs while also shrinking their carbon footprint. For students and staff at the private liberal arts college in Chestertown, the project offered a chance to help Shore communities address climate change by dealing with the shifting energy landscape.