BLACK CAUCUS PROTESTS ED FUNDING: The Maryland legislature’s Black Caucus has sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan protesting cuts to education in his budget, saying they hurt progress being made in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County schools, reports Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com. “We look forward to sitting down with the governor and helping to move this budget in a direction that we hope will benefit our students.” said Baltimore Sen. Catherine Pugh, Senate chair of the Black Caucus as well as the majority leader.
- Senate President Mike Miller joined members of the Legislative Black Caucus in speaking out against cuts Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed in state aid for local education. Miller said legislators acknowledge the need to cut state spending, but predicted the General Assembly would insist on changes in Hogan’s proposed budget, Timothy Wheeler and Michael Dresser report for the Sun.
- Under Hogan’s proposal, which seeks to constrain spending across state government, Maryland would still spend a record amount on K-12 education next year, but counties would receive about $143 million less than anticipated under existing budget formulas.
HOGAN & COMMON CORE: Valerie Strauss of the Post looks into Gov. Hogan’s views on Common Core and whether he will try to roll back the standards that have been embraced by the Board of Education.
ELECTED ARUNDEL SCHOOL BOARD: It wouldn’t be a legislative session if Republican lawmakers didn’t push for an elected Anne Arundel County school board bill, hoping again to overcome against the rough opposition of Democrats, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. Supporters hope this year’s legislation will face less friction thanks to a Republican governor calling the shots on appointments.
ANNAPOLIS SUMMIT: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM is holding his annual Annapolis Summit today, where he interviews Maryland’s top elected officials about the important legislative issues facing the state. In segment 3 of the show, you’ll hear his interviews with Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch. The program begins at 10 a.m. Friday.
BILL WOULD LIMIT CLINIC SITES: Del. Mike McKay, who represents western Washington County and a part of Allegany County, said he plans to introduce a bill in the Maryland General Assembly restricting where a methadone clinic can be located. The bill, which is being drafted, would prohibit such clinics from being located close to schools, churches and community centers in Washington County, reports Kaustuv Basu in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
ALL ABOUT THE BUDGET: Political pundit Fraser Smith, in a column for the Daily Record, writes about the war that has just begun in Annapolis over the budget. It’s a clash, he says, between Democratic and Republican approaches to government.
- Budget and fiscal issues will clearly dominate this legislative session and political and philosophical differences, particularly relating to education funding and Gob. Hogan’s strategy to eliminate the structural deficit, are beginning to percolate to the surface, writes Don Fry in a column for Center Maryland.
CASINOS CAN CUT SLOTS: The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission approved the request of two casinos seeking to reduce the number of slot machines and expand table gaming, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. The approval for the Maryland Live and Horseshoe Baltimore casinos comes a week after a state Senate committee requested a delay in order to be briefed on how the change would affect projected tax revenue.
FILLING VACANCIES: Two freshman delegates from each party are working on legislation to give voters a greater role in filling legislative seats that become vacant, Len Lazarick writes in MarylandReporter.com. At the same time, Republican Party officials are working on ways to establish statewide party rules that will maintain the strong role of party central committees in the process and avoid the special elections the delegates are proposing.
3 NAMES SENT IN GETTY STEAD: The Carroll County Republican Central Committee has sent three names to Gov. Larry Hogan as recommended replacements for former Sen. Joe Getty, who recently resigned to become Hogan’s chief legislative officer, reports Wiley Hayes of the Carroll County Times. Besides former County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, the committee also named Del. Justin Ready, R-District 5, and David Wallace for the now-vacant Senate seat in District 5.
POWER STRIP: In a related story, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners will be submitting a late addition to their legislative package to take away the power of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee to select the replacement of a county commissioner in the event of an opening. This legislation is in part due to the controversial decision by the committee to only recommend former Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier to replace Sen. Joe Getty, writes Wiley Hayes for the Carroll County Times.
PROJECT FUNDING UNLIKELY: Requests for state money to help groups such as a local zoo or theater pull off their projects have started to trickle in from Frederick County lawmakers, as they do every legislative session. But, reports Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post, Sen. Ron Young says prospects for scoring the funds seem dim this time around; under Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed budget, there are no state dollars to be had for these community projects.
O’MALLEY ON THE MOVE: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who continues to weigh a 2016 presidential bid, confirmed plans Thursday to travel to two early nominating states in coming months, writes John Wagner for the Post.
- O’Malley will return to New Hampshire in March, marking his first visit to an early presidential primary state since he left Annapolis earlier this month, reports John Fritze for the Sun.
- O’Malley has added a second early primary state to his itinerary and plans to speak at a conference of South Carolina Democrats next month, Erin Cox is reporting in the Sun.
BA CO CUTS ED REQUEST: Baltimore County school leaders have backed away from an ambitious budget proposal after the county executive quietly summoned board members to his office and told them to reduce the request, reports Liz Bowie in the Sun. Superintendent Dallas Dance had proposed a $1.5 billion budget.
LEGGETT EXPECTS PROPERTY TAX HIKE: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett says residents can expect him to propose a significant property tax increase this year or next to make up for state funding cuts and revenue diminished by a still-sluggish recovery from the recession, reports the Post’s Bill Turque.