STATE CENTER PROJECT: A $1.5 billion plan to redevelop the State Center government complex has re-emerged and so have concerns about the costs of the project, its timing and its potential effects on the state budget, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.
PURPLE LINE BIDS: The Maryland Transit Administration has extended its deadline for Purple Line bids to give Gov.-elect Larry Hogan more time to assess the project, which he previously has criticized as too expensive, reports Kevin Rector in the Sun.
HOGAN SEEKS RAIN TAX REPEAL: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan will propose legislation to repeal the storm water remediation fee derided by Republicans as the “rain tax” in his first legislative package next year, his transition team confirmed Wednesday to Michael Dresser of the Sun.
BUDGET GORILLA: James Brady is leaving no doubt about the biggest issue Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s transition team has to tackle. It’s the state budget. “That has been the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” said Brady, who is co-chairing the transition team along with Lt. Gov.-elect Boyd Rutherford. Rick Seltzer reports the story for the Baltimore Business Journal.
ZIRKIN TO CHAIR JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS: Baltimore County Sen. Bobby Zirkin has been named the next chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The selection, which was not unexpected, was part of nine leadership positions announced by Senate President Mike Miller, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Zirkin, who is entering his third term in the Senate after two terms in the House of Delegates, succeeds Sen. Brian Frosh, who will be sworn in as the next attorney general.
- The judicial proceedings panel has handled some of the thorniest issues to confront the legislature in recent years, including gun control, same-sex marriage and abolishment of the death penalty, writes John Wagner in the Post.
- Zirkin, 43, will be the youngest senator serving as chairman of one of the Senate’s four standing policy committees, reports the Sun’s Michael Dresser.
FILM TAX CREDIT: Weighing in on the current controversy surrounding the state’s film tax credit, Senate President Mike Miller acknowledges the legitimacy of the debate over the cost of the program but said there are other considerations that need to be taken into account before writing off the program and sending the shows to another state, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
PRIVATE RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: Maryland residents who fail to save for their own retirements are like drivers who speed or children who won’t do what you tell them to do, according to former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Kennedy Townsend, who leads a task force studying the problem of retirement savings for private sector employees, made the comparison during a hearing in Annapolis. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the group is looking at the possibility of recommending the creation of a mandated retirement program where non-government employers would be required to offer a retirement plan or enroll employees into a state managed plan.
HOGAN MEETS ULMAN: Nearly a month after his victory, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan met Wednesday at an Annapolis restaurant with Ken Ulman, the running mate of Anthony Brown, the state’s defeated Democratic nominee. Hogan and Brown, who remains Maryland’s lieutenant governor for another seven weeks, have yet to sit down since the Nov. 4 election, but they have lunch plans next week, writes John Wagner in the Post.
FRESHMAN ORIENTATION: As the newbies gathered in the House chamber in Annapolis Wednesday, absorbing the sobering news of the $600-million budget hole they face in January, it was clear many had a lot to learn, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. On Day 2 of orientation, no one had yet told the freshman lawmakers – the largest class in decades — they need to stand up when they grab a microphone to speak.
- After the elation of their election victories, most of 57 newly elected delegates and 11 new senators got a sobering bucket of budget ice water thrown on them from the legislature’s chief fiscal analysts, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com
- The new Anne Arundel County delegation has spent the last two days going through new legislator orientation: learning how bills become laws, working with other state offices and taking in the current state of the budget, writes Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital.
DEMOCRATS, MOVING FORWARD: Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland comments that, after their November losses, Democrats need to focus on recruiting candidates at the state and local level and pay more attention to messaging and retooling the party organization. Perhaps most important of all, figuring out how to get irregular voters to turn out in non-presidential elections will provide a very full agenda for the Democratic Party.
STUDENT POWER: The Montgomery County House delegation’s agenda will once again take up an issue that has been controversial in the past — expanding the voting powers of the student member of the county Board of Education. With the impending departure of a leading opponent of the proposal, Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Chevy Chase, from the legislature, a major hurdle to its passage apparently has been removed, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Magazine.
CRAIG REFLECTS ON CAREER: In his last full day in the office where he spent the past nine and a half years of his long public service career, Harford County Executive David Craig sounded content with his legacy and quietly modest about his achievements. During a 90-minute interview session Nov. 26, Craig, 65, peppered his appraisal of his record long tenure as the leader of Harford’s government with quotes from past presidents and his historical heroes, Bryna Zumer reports in the Aegis.
DUNCAN AND LEADERSHIP: In 12 years as the top elected official in Montgomery County, Doug Duncan earned a reputation as a leader who busted through political complacency and bureaucratic lethargy to get things done. Now Duncan has taken on a new challenge, trying to revitalize a low-profile civic organization, Leadership Greater Washington. Essentially a high-level networking group, LGW is beloved by many of its 1,500 graduates for creating lasting friendships through a nine-month “class year,” writes Post columnist Robert McCartney, himself an LGW graduate.
O’MALLEY HIRES HYERS: Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has hired Bill Hyers, who managed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign last year, as a senior adviser to the governor’s political action committee, O’Malley aides confirmed Wednesday. John Wagner reports in the Post that the move comes as O’Malley continues to weigh a 2016 White House bid, which would likely pit him against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
- Hyers executed de Blasio’s come-from-behind victory last year, leading the American Association of Political Consultants to dub him the 2014 Democratic campaign manager of the year, writes the Sun’s Erin Cox.
EHRLICH FOR PRESIDENT, REALLY? Political opinionmaker Fraser Smith of WYPR-FM looks at former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s testing of the national political waters and telling the Sun that he is thinking about a run for president and asks the question that has been on many minds — Really?