Hogan budget announcement

Rascovar: Hogan’s ‘deflategate’

Talk about an uneven fight! When it comes to shaping the Maryland state budget Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. is the pre-determined champion.

Think of the budget as a balloon. The governor decides how much air gets pumped into the balloon ($40 billion). Once this is done, the legislature can let out some of that air -- but it can't expand the size of the balloon at all.

Senate Budget and Taxation Committee

Senate president announces committee assignments

Senate President Mike Miller announced the full slate of committee assignments Tuesday, finding places for the 11 new senators and shifting several of the incumbents. The Democratic presiding officer determines the committee assignments for both Democrats and Republicans in the 47-member Senate.

State House complex at sunset by Thisisbossi at Wikimedia Commons

New governor is pro-business, new Democratic legislators ‘more anti-business,’ lobbyist says

While the new governor-elect is a pro-business Republican, the newly elected "Democrats coming in are more progressive and more anti-business" than those they are replacing, Comcast lobbyist Sean Looney told a Baltimore-Washington Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

That will present a challenge to Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch on "how to control their own constituency," Looney said. "It's frankly Mike Busch's and Mike Miller's headache."

State House as sun sets

Md. legislators get high marks from consumer group — but not GOP

A consumer advocacy group is giving state lawmakers high scores for passing laws in the 2014 General Assembly session that raise the minimum wage and reduce the impact of foreclosures.

The Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, a nonprofit whose mission includes advancing fairness and justice for consumers, also released four-year scores that depicted state lawmakers as generally favorable to consumer issues. Only nine of 47 senators and 46 of 141 delegates got four-year scores lower than 80%.

Sen. David Brinkley

Cut in estate tax sent to governor, who will likely sign it

In an effort to ensure Maryland’s millionaires don’t flee the state for cheaper pastures, the General Assembly approved Thursday a cut to the state’s estate tax.

After spirited debate and a 36-10 vote from the Senate, the bill was sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is likely to sign the bill.

Senate President Mike Miller

Miller ‘reluctantly’ supports estate tax cut he’s sponsoring

Though he’s listed as chief sponsor of a bill that would cut Maryland’s estate tax, Senate President Mike Miller said Wednesday he only “reluctantly” supports his legislation, and its House equivalent, which delegates passed last week.

But, Miller said, it is important to keep Maryland’s rate competitive to those of other states.