SIERRA CLUB, DOCS TO SUE HOGAN: The Sierra Club and a doctors group said Wednesday that they plan to sue Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration for failing to enforce regulations that compel power plants to limit smog pollution, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun. The groups submitted a 30-day notice of their intent to file a lawsuit Wednesday, demanding that the Republican governor put into place clean-air protections adopted in the final days of the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat.
AUDIT FINDS ASSISTANCE AGENCIES LACK DOCUMENTS: Social services agencies are missing critical documentation to check whether people currently enrolled in food stamps and energy assistance programs are actually eligible for those benefits, a state audit has found. Rebecca Lessner of MarylandReporter.com reports that the Office of Legislative Audits found 10,500 cases where public assistance recipient documentation across several major programs were missing Social Security numbers for more than a year after an alert had been issued.
GUN SALES SPIKED WITH 2013 GUN LAW: Max Simpson of the Capital News Service writes a detailed piece, running in the Daily Record, about how Maryland’s new gun law in 2013 had a dramatic effect on gun sales throughout the state.
BIPARTISANSHIP DISSOLVES: Evaluating outcomes of legislative sessions, particularly when the Democrats control the General Assembly and the Republicans the governor’s mansion, often devolves into rating winners and losers. Though there were the inevitable clashes on policy and rhetoric, it was also a productive session. David Lublin of Seventh State blogs that the sour note finish on the budget, however, was a perplexing surprise in light of the initial bipartisan budget compromise that saw strong support from both sides of the aisle.
HOGAN DOESN’T WANT TO ‘POLITICIZE’ GRAY’S DEATH: Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday he would not order any further investigation into Freddie Gray’s death in police custody beyond the four already under way in Baltimore City. “We don’t want to politicize the issue,” Hogan said in an interview. “You don’t want to have too many people involved. … It just slows things down.” Hogan continued: “We’re prepared to assist in anyway possible, but we don’t want interfere with the process.” writes Erin Cox in the Sun.
- But David Collins reports for WBAL TV that Gov. Larry Hogan is very interested in the case and is prepared to launch state resources if needed. “It’s a tragic situation. My heart goes out to the family and everyone involved in the entire incident, and like everyone else, we are hoping to get to the bottom of it and find out the facts,” Hogan said.
GOP LAWMAKERS PRAISE NEW DIRECTION: Washington County Republican lawmakers looked back on the successes — and their disappointments — in the recently completed session of the Maryland General Assembly during a legislative-review briefing Wednesday night. Despite some of the shortcomings that the lawmakers said they saw, there seemed to be an air of excitement over a new direction in Maryland, Dave McMillion reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
RALLY SUPPORTS PURPLE LINE: Business representatives from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties touted the predicted economic benefits of the Purple Line Monday at the release of an updated study on the 16-mile light rail system, writes Rebecca Guterman in the Montgomery Sentinel. The event served as part of a larger effort on behalf of both counties to convince Gov. Larry Hogan to move forward with the Purple Line, a $2.45 billion project with 21 stops across the two counties.
SENATORS HOPE TO BLOCK OFF-SHORE DRILLING: Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., joined other East Coast senators Wednesday to reintroduce the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act on Earth Day in an effort to block offshore drilling in the Atlantic. This week also marked the fifth-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which serves as a reminder of the possible consequences of offshore drilling. The spill is recognized as the worst in U.S. history, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Lily Hua of CNS writes the story in the Salisbury Daily Times.
O’MALLEY BLASTS CLINTON: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley took another swipe Wednesday at Hillary Rodham Clinton, telling supporters that American workers who could lose their jobs due to a pending trade deal “are owed more than lip service,” John Wagner of the Post is reporting.
O’MALLEY ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Former Gov. O’Malley will travel to New Hampshire next month, his third trip to the early presidential primary state this year reports John Fritze in the Sun. O’Malley who has said he will make up his mind about running for president by the end of May, will speak at a fundraiser and a house party of a former state official. The events were first reported by The Boston Globe.
- O’Malley hasn’t formally declared he’s running for president yet, but he’s already picked up the tacit endorsement of a former Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is hosting a May 8 event for O’Malley in Florida, and told the Miami Herald that his allegiance this cycle is to Maryland’s former governor.
EDWARDS TO CHAIR TASK FORCE: U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen joined a task force Wednesday that is urging Congress to act on solutions to increase transparency in U.S. campaign and electoral finance systems, reports CNS’s Jasmine Whittington in the Salisbury Times. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the task force is working on support for “Democracy for All,” a proposed constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court. “We want Americans to know that under the leadership of Donna Edwards, there is democracy for all, not just the privileged few,” said Pelosi.
EDWARDS GETS OUT-OF-STATE BUCKS: Nearly 80% of the money Rep. Donna Edwards raised for her Senate campaign last month came from out of state donors, according to a Baltimore Sun analysis of recently filed campaign finance reports, writes John Fritze in the Sun.Of the $260,000 in donations over $200 from individuals included on the Prince George’s County Democrat’s campaign disclosure, $58,000 came from Maryland donors — a percentage that underscores the campaign’s reliance, so far, on national progressive groups for fundraising. The largest share of Edwards’ money — about 26% — came from California.
FITTING TRIBUTE TO KIRWAN: Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland writes that the party last Saturday night was huge with 750 attendees, bringing together leaders from the political, business and educational communities of Maryland. It was bipartisan, with speakers including Gov. Larry Hogan and U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin. And it raised a lot of money — $3 million — for the newly established Brit Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. Mostly it was an expansive and richly deserved celebration of the extraordinary career of William E. “Brit” Kirwan, who retires at the end of June after more than 12 years as chancellor of the University System of Maryland.
CHARTER CHANGE IN FREDERICK? Frederick County officials might differ on how the budget should end up looking, but they agree that they need more time to work on it, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. Adding breathing room to the county’s compressed budget timeline could be a complicated task, since the dates are established by the charter, the guiding document for the county’s new form of government. But several county leaders said Wednesday that they should embark on the discussion about charter changes.