Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford Tuesday unveiled their “2018 Anti-Opioid Initiatives” in Maryland’s campaign against a staggering opioid crisis that shows no signs of slowing. The announcement from the Republican governor immediately produced another tiff with Democratic Attorney General Brian Frosh. But there was broad bipartisan cooperation in evidence in Annapolis as Democratic House Speaker Michael Busch and Republican Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh jointly sponsored an opiod summit emphasizing local efforts and statewide legislation to battle the growing overdose deaths.
Snow and bad travel conditions cut the attendance at the annual United Seniors of Maryland day of lobbying in half Wednesday. But more than 100 committed older Marylanders who did show up to lobby their legislators got strong pitches for new state services and legislation that will help control drug prices for the booming numbers of people over 60 in the state. Secretary of Aging Rona Kramer, a former Democratic senator in the Hogan administration, unveiled a new program just being developed called Communities for Life, designed to allow older Marylanders to age in place with a broad array of private support services.
From kindergarten to graduate school, education clearly is Gov. Larry Hogan’s priority in this election year. The proof is spelled out in his administration’s $44.4 billion operating budget for FY 2019 delivered to the Maryland General Assembly Wednesday. To the chagrin of health professionals and advocacy groups, new funding for Maryland’s opioid “state of emergency,” declared by Hogan last March, is not as hefty as expected. The state’s upward trend in fatal and non-fatal overdoses began in 2010, and between 2015-16 deaths soared 66%, the highest per capita increase in the nation.
Gov. Hogan’s $44.4 billion budget preview includes no tax hikes, more bucks for K-12; Democrats offers three-part-tax relief plan to offset federal tax overhaul as Hogan welcomes proposal; education commission chair says Maryland schools are in “middle of the pack;” Maryland offers bipartisan opposition to federal offshore drilling plan; Hogan to report raising $4.85 million for next campaign; Al Redmer hires top staff for campaign for Baltimore County exec; and Chelsea Manning’s election chances in Maryland may not be so rosy.
Term limits for Maryland legislators are a great idea whose time will never come. That’s particularly true of Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal for a two-term limit on Maryland lawmakers. That could actually make things worse at the State House. Even Republican legislators who repeatedly do the heavy lifting for their Republican governor think the idea stinks — off the record, of course.
The Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education wrapped up its preliminary report Monday during a sometimes contentious discussion over how much the massive $1.3 billion infusion of new education funding from 2002 to 2008 had improved Maryland schools. “Putting it bluntly, despite a significant increase in State funding over the past 15 years, Maryland students still perform in the middle of the pack within the US, which is in the middle of the pack against the rest of the modern world,” says the report.
A key Democratic narrative this election year is that Maryland used to have the best public schools in the country, but Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has short changed them so much that they have now slipped to 5th place. The problem with this partisan talking point is that the Education Week Quality County report card on which the claim is based has always been a dubious indicator of how good the schools were. Weeks before Hogan took office in 2015, Maryland had already slipped to third place as Education Week began to give more weight to student outcomes.Even if the complicated rating standards were not questionable, Maryland’s slipping ratings are based mostly on lagging data from test scores in O’Malley budget years.
As they return to their chambers this month, state legislators across the Chesapeake watershed face some of the same Bay-centric environmental issues they’ve seen before. In Maryland, they’ll debate what more, if anything, should be done to conserve the state’s forestland from development and whether air pollution from chicken houses deserves a closer look.
The 14 state lobbying firms that billed over $1 million in the past year grossed over $30 million representing literally hundreds of clients. Not surprisingly, the 10 highest-paid lobbyists which we listed last month as each billing more than $1 million are also members of the top-grossing firms.