Sen. Kagan scolds state school board veep for disparaging students

A Democratic senator scolded the Republican vice president of the state school board for his choice of words at an Annapolis hearing Wednesday when describing what he called Maryland’s low-ranking accountability standard used to measure student academic achievement. Chester Finn, vice president of the Maryland State Board of Education, said legislation approved by the state legislature last year placed Maryland “in the cellar” in terms of how U.S. schools rate student academic outcomes, which makes Maryland “second lowest” in the country.

Videos of full Assembly sessions get slim support, even though cost estimates reduced

A brief, perfunctory hearing in a Senate committee Tuesday made a rather weak case for Gov. Larry Hogan’s legislation to make the legislature’s proceedings more open and accessible to the public. Hogan’s Transparency Act of 2018requires the legislature to live video stream and archive all sessions of the House and Senate and their committees, including voting sessions. The governor’s communications staff put out a “Hearing Alert” promoting the bill, but Deputy Legislative Officer Heidi Dudderar was the only person to testify for the legislation before the Senate Health, Education and Environmental Affairs Committee.  

County lawsuits on opioids reminiscent of tobacco lawsuits

Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Harford, and Montgomery counties claim the pharmaceutical industry expedited the epidemic by hiding or minimizing addiction risks yet aggressively marketed their products to the public and medical professionals. The counties are requesting financial relief for their costs of responding. As many as 200 U.S. cities and counties have filed or plan to file so far. The David v Goliath tactic is reminiscent of the 1990s when every state joined a suit against the tobacco industry. The $246 billion settlement against 13 corporations was reached after four years of maneuvering.

Larry Hogan faces cancer with good humor — again

Gov. Larry Hogan will probably be sporting bandages on his face for a few days, so explaining that he was having the most common form of skin cancers removed on Saturday was probably a wise way to get ahead of potentially scary news. “Scars are cool. I hate to mess with this beautiful face,” Hogan said.  

Federal tax cuts prompting Maryland tax code revision

New federal tax laws will benefit most Marylanders in the short term and especially help those with children, but are likely to reduce charitable contributions, a comprehensive analysis released Thursday by the state comptroller predicted. Without changes in state law, Maryland taxpayers will pay upward of $572 million more in state and local taxes in the 2019 fiscal year, while their combined federal tax burden would decrease by $2.8 billion, state officials said.