HOGAN VETOES SICK LEAVE BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have required employers with more than 15 workers to allow them to earn paid sick leave, setting up a potential veto override fight when state lawmakers return to Annapolis later this year or next, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.
- Hogan sets up a potential veto override battle on an matter that Democrats certainly would like to turn into a campaign issue, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Hogan, in an attempt to soften any potential political blow, reiterated that he supports paid sick leave but said the legislative plan would be devastating to small businesses in the state. The story is topped by an 18-minute video.
- Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that Hogan called the legislature’s proposal a “terrible, poorly written and deeply flawed bill” and said it would result in the loss of hundreds of small businesses and thousands of jobs. He implored Democrats to work with him to come up with a bipartisan compromise that can be passed on the first day of the General Assembly’s session in 2017.
- In an analysis for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz likens Hogan to Harry Houdini, writing that while an override is expected, Hogan signed an executive order creating a multi-agency task force to study the impact of sick leave on small businesses and come up with recommendations for emergency legislation that could be introduced on the first day of the 2018 General Assembly session. He also ordered paid sick leave benefits extended to 8,000 contractual employees at state agencies.
- Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that Hogan said he supports paid sick leave, just not the bill the General Assembly passed. “This legislation is an ill-conceived, poorly written, complicated, confusing and inflexible mess,” he said.
OTHER BILLS SIGNED: The fate of some of the most consequential measures passed by the General Assembly this year remains up in the air Thursday after Gov. Larry Hogan signed 209 bills in the final such ceremony of the year, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. The legislation the governor signed included several bills aimed at fighting the state’s opioid addiction crisis, including a measure he proposed that will increase the penalties for distributing fentanyl — an often lethal additive to heroin.
- One Frederick family who lost a loved one to an overdose stood behind Gov. Hogan as he signed the bills to fight the opioid crisis into law, Danielle Gaines reports for the Frederick News-Post.
RX POT INDUSTRY ON HOLD: A Baltimore judge put Maryland’s medical marijuana industry temporarily on hold Thursday, granting the request of a company that alleged state regulators illegally ignored racial diversity when picking firms to grow the drug. Circuit Judge Barry Williams said the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission is not permitted to grant any additional marijuana licenses for 10 days, the Sun’s Erin Cox reports.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that the lawsuit by Alternative Medicine Maryland, a majority-black-owned company that did not get a license, argues that regulators failed to consider minority ownership despite a legal mandate to “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity.
- Brian S. Brown, managing member at Brown & Barron LLC and attorney for Alternative Medicine Maryland, said his client is pleased with Williams’ ruling, Bryan Sears writes in the Daily Record. “We hope the issue is resolved in the most expeditious way possible so citizens of Maryland can obtain medical cannabis,” Brown said.
FROSH PUSHES ON PURPLE LINE: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh pushed forward with a legal maneuver to attempt to force the federal D.C. District Court judge to issue rulings on the remaining outstanding issues in the Purple Line case Thursday. The state is attempting to have the federal Court of Appeals in D.C. grant a writ of mandamus to force Judge Richard Leon to rule on about two dozen outstanding environmental issues in the case, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.
CUMMINGS UNDERGOES SURGERY: Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings underwent heart surgery on Wednesday and is expected to remain in the hospital for several days, his office said on Thursday. John Fritze of the Sun writes that Cummings was being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital after what aides described as a minimally invasive procedure called trans arterial aortic valve replacement, used to correct the narrowing of the aortic valve.
- The procedure was previously scheduled, not an emergency operation, a spokesman said. Congress will not be in session Friday and is in recess next week. Cummings, 66, is the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. Josh Hicks of the Post writes that he is a frequent critic of the Trump administration and has pressed the Republican-led committee to aggressively investigate the Trump campaign over potential collusion with Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
FISH INDUSTRY UPDATE: In an article in MarylandReporter.com, Bay Journal reporter Rona Kobell writes that with uncertainty about new regulations and increases in the reported cases of food-borne illnesses, wholesale fish distributors are taking their need for refrigeration to a whole new level — and place. Some have moved out of the wholesale city markets that used to be gathering places for early morning fish delivery and banter. Others are going out of business, selling out to competitors, or merging to share space and expenses.
PENCE TO SPEAK TODAY: Vice President Mike Pence will speak at the Naval Academy graduation today, where about 1,000 midshipmen will be commissioned as officers. Meredith Newman of the Annapolis Capital writes that the three-hour ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.