HEALTH SECT’Y STEPS DOWN: Gov. Larry Hogan’s health secretary has left his job for what was described as “opportunities in the private sector,” the governor’s office announced Thursday. Erin Cox of the Sun writes that Van T. Mitchell, a former lobbyist and Democratic state delegate, had led the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene since Hogan was inaugurated almost two years ago.
- Hogan has named a new health secretary, replacing Van T. Mitchell with Dennis Schrader, who has served as appointments secretary for the past year, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. Mitchell served as secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for the past two years.
- Douglass Mayer, a spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, said that while Mitchell’s departure was effective Thursday the secretary informed the governor of his intent earlier, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.
CHANGES IN JUVIE SHACKLING: A legislative task force on Thursday recommended limiting the situations in which juveniles accused of crimes in Maryland can be bound in restraints, but it stopped short of proposing sweeping reforms that would drastically curtail the controversial practice, Erica Green reports for the Baltimore Sun.
- Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that The group recommended releasing children from restraints for at least five minutes every four hours during long trips and while using the bathroom. Children also shouldn’t be shackled when they’re being released, the group decided, or when they’re going home for a visit earned through good behavior.
NO COMMENT FROM DNR: “Hook & Bullet” reporter Michael Sawyers of the Cumberland Times News writes that during every session of the General Assembly, politicians end up massaging a variety of bills that impact natural resources and users thereof. But don’t expect to learn anything about the nature of impacts the Department of Natural Resources anticipates from introduced legislation. Sawyers writes he was startled during the 2016 General Assembly when DNR’s director of communication said the agency would not comment about pending legislation. That sort of information suppression left him to speculate about what any impacts would be, rather than get hard information from a DNR biologist, either in fisheries or wildlife.
AFSCME PICKETS GOVERNMENT HOUSE: About 50 members of the largest union of state employees picketed the governor’s mansion during a holiday party Thursday, demanding a fix to a payroll glitch they say has left scores of workers without full paychecks just before holidays, Erica Green of the Sun writes. State officials dispute the scope of the problem, but said Thursday they issued more than $81,000 worth of paper checks to 115 corrections workers last month because of payroll problems.
- As a result of the state’s switch to the new Workday computer program, the union says some employees haven’t gotten accurate base pay, some are missing overtime, and others haven’t been paid at all, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.
HOGAN’s ROAD TO HYPERBOLE: The editorial board of the Carroll County Times opines that Gov. Larry Hogan’s declaration of war on what he has dubbed the “Road Kill Bill,” is a bit hyperbolic in that the piece of legislation formally called the “2016 Maryland Open Transportation Investment Decision Act” wouldn’t actually hamstring the governor from providing funding for any transportation project he wishes, but it would call for him to justify doing so.
- Saying that Hogan “grossly misrepresented” the transportation ranking legislation, the editorial board of the Sun opines that Hogan must not have much of an agenda for his third year (normally, a governor’s most productive, by the way). Here’s our prediction: There is about a zero probability that lawmakers are backing down now.
- The governor is giving aggressive pushback on social media, including a big red X on the Sun editorial. On Facebook, Hogan says: “The Baltimore Sun editorial writers are so biased and misinformed, they have lost all credibility. They often print whoppers with no truth to them whatsoever. One was yesterday, and this whopper is just the latest.”
LEGGETT, PUGH LIKE TO LEAD: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh have both served in the legislative branch, but they both said Thursday they preferred the executive branch. Doug Tallman of Bethesda Beat reports that that was one of the points brought home during Thursday morning’s Committee for Montgomery breakfast meeting at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in North Bethesda.
JACK JOHNSON RELEASED: Arelis R. Hernández of the Post reports that former Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson has left federal prison and entered a residential facility in Baltimore six months ahead of his expected release next summer, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons registry. Johnson, who led the Prince George’s County government from 2002 to 2010, pleaded guilty in 2011 to corruption charges.