GOOD WILL BEFORE THE STORM: Democrats in the General Assembly are likely to spend much of the next three months in a tug of war with Gov. Larry Hogan over his tax-relief proposals and his plan to revamp the budget process. But on Wednesday — the opening day of the 90-day legislative session in Annapolis — there was none of that. Instead, it was a day to congratulate lawmakers whose children had been born over the past nine months, say farewell to a retiring U.S. senator and catch up with old friends, report Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks in the Post.
- Gov. Larry Hogan welcomed the Maryland General Assembly back to Annapolis on Wednesday with the promise that he was just a phone call away. “I want you to know that I’m always available to you,” Hogan told the Senate. He delivered a similar message to the House of Delegates. Hogan is a Republican; both chambers are dominated by Democrats, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser of the Sun report.
- Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital reports that when the Maryland General Assembly convened in Annapolis Wednesday for the 436th legislative session, state leaders made the usual calls for Democrats and Republicans to work together — and delayed the first battle until next week.
- Carroll County Republican legislators are going into the session hopeful that they can work with Democrats to accomplish mutual goals, writes Heather Norris for the Carroll County Times. The item is topped by a short video of Del. Susan Krebs and Del. April Rose.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes about Hogan’s reaching out to the General Assembly.
SOME THINGS BORROWED: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan borrowed the heart of his proposed tax plan for working class families from one of his chief Democratic foes in the legislature, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. And the inspiration for his plan to lure manufacturers to the state also came from Democrats: his will be “very similar” to a program by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which has been pushed in the Maryland legislature by one of the more liberal senators in the General Assembly.
- Tax cuts plans Gov. Larry Hogan offered Tuesday were so modest and mainstream that the worst a Democratic Party spokesman could say about them was that two copied proposals by Democrats and Hogan didn’t say how he would pay for them, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.
- Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post gives a roundup of the day’s busy and varied activities, writing that lawmakers shared messages of bipartisanship in opening remarks, though several top lawmakers were trading barbs over funding issues before the week even started. Gov. Larry Hogan, in an unusual move, began unveiling portions of his planned budget last week, and on Tuesday, released details about $480 million in proposed cuts to taxes and state fees.
SCHOOL OVERTESTING WON’T GET ADDRESSED: It is one of the few issues that Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic legislative leaders agree on: students are tested too much. But it also an issue that most likely will not get addressed this year. Hogan said Wednesday that reducing the number of tests students are required to take each year was not something that was “on our radar screens” as lawmakers returned to Annapolis for their annual 90-day legislative session, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.
CLEAN ENERGY LAW PUSHED: Lawmakers and environmental advocates gathered in Annapolis to push for the Clean Energy Job Act on the first day of the General Assembly session, writes Christina Jedra for the Annapolis Capital. “We have to take this precious earth and leave it as well or better than we found it,” said state Sen. MacMiddleton, D-Charles County.
LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS: The Maryland General Assembly must not forget low-income city residents in the coming debates over legislation addressing police accountability in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, Sen. Lisa Gladden said Wednesday. Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports the story.
VETO OVERRIDES POSTPONED: It’s Mike Miller’s 30th legislative session as Senate president, the longest-serving presiding officer in any U.S. legislature. Miller, 73, is now also the longest-serving member of the Maryland General Assembly, first elected to the House of Delegates in 1970. And his promised overrides of last year’s vetoes by Gov. Larry Hogan have been postponed, according to Rachel Bluth of CNS in MarylandReporter.com.
INTERNET HOTEL TAX: Among the most controversial bills the legislature will consider next week is a vetoed bill concerning a dispute between large hotel operators and Internet travel companies. The fight is over tax payments to the state by those Internet companies when they book in-state hotel rooms. Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr. vetoed this bill for the most sensible of reasons, writes columnist Barry Rascovar of PoliticalMaryland.com. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot already is suing an Internet company, Travelocity, over what he claims is $6 million in unpaid taxes on those service fees between 2003 and 2011.
SEVEN THINGS: The Post kicks off “7 things to watch in Annapolis” with the fact House Speaker Michael Busch and Gov. Hogan aren’t exactly best buds. There’s no love lost and the two, unlike Senate President Mike Miller, don’t attend basketball and football games together. Busch said recently that there is some residual bitterness from last year’s session.
WHO TO WATCH: The Daily Record’s reporters and editors compiled a list of lawmakers and others who are expected to do big things during the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly. These – in no particular order – are the ones to watch this year.
ANNAPOLIS EXPECTATIONS: Political commentator Barry Rascovar and Maryland Nonprofits CEO Heather Iliff join Sheilah Kast of WYPR-FM for a “State of the State preview,” to discuss where there’s common ground in Annapolis and which issues will steal the headlines.
GOV. HOGAN: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM kicks off the 13th Annual Annapolis Summit at the Governor Calvert House with a 30-minute interview with Gov. Larry Hogan. The Annapolis Summit is sponsored by the Daily Record, the Maryland State Education Association, Stevenson University, Alexander and Cleaver, VPC, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and WEAA.
BUSCH AND MILLER: Steiner continues the Annapolis Summit at the Governor Calvert House with an interview with Maryland Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch. It lasts about 45 minutes. The Daily Record offers a short video clip of the interview.
SEN. MIKULSKI: And Steiner concludes the Annapolis Summit with a 30-minute interview with U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Here’s a short video from the Daily Record.
TURN THIS CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AROUND: In an op-ed in the Sun, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich writes that it’s time for Maryland to stop nibbling around the edges of criminal justice reform and advance broad and substantial investment into cost-effective programs proven to work. Data-driven policies across the nation have shown that Maryland can be a safer and more economically sound state by embracing proven criminal justice reform policies.
FRANCHOT GETS TRUMPED: David Lublin of the Seventh State political blog posts an interview between Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 and Senate President Mike Miller. After giving a lucid analysis of the sources of the Trump phenomenon and its danger, Miller aimed his fire closer to home. Was that Comptroller Peter Franchot he was referring to?
O’MALLEY TOUTS UNIONIZING LEGISLATION: Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley will call for legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize and will announce his support for a proposal to give employees more control over their schedules — part of a broader series of workplace policies his campaign described Thursday as a “workers bill of rights,” John Fritze reports in the Sun.
BAKER TO BE O’MALLEY’S SC SECOND: O’Malley has invited Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker to travel south to Charleston, S.C., for Sunday’s debate as his representative in the spin room, speaking after the debate to reporters about the governor’s working relationship with the nation’s most affluent, majority African American jurisdiction, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.