State Roundup, September 7, 2017

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BPW SCALES CUTS TO $61M: The Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a scaled-back version of a plan that Gov. Larry Hogan proposed last week to trim the state’s budget as part of an effort to prepare for future shortfalls, Josh Hicks of the Post reports. The three-member panel — Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp — voted unanimously in favor of reducing state spending by $61 million for the current fiscal year, but it dropped the administration’s request to eliminate $6.35 million, mostly in grants for revenue-hungry jurisdictions such as Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

  • The cuts amounted to less than 0.2% of the state’s $43.5 billion budget. They included some reductions in aid to local governments, to colleges and to the juvenile justice system. Thirty vacant positions in higher education were eliminated, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun.
  • Disparity grants to local governments totaling more than $6 million make up the bulk of the proposed cuts withdrawn from the original proposal, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. The money, which can be used for a variety of programs, is typically used for education. Baltimore City and Prince George’s County are some of the larger recipients of the grants. The balance of the restored funding will go to Humanities Council and within the Department of Planning in the amounts of $150,000 and $200,000, respectively.
  • The state Department of Health will see the largest cut of any agency, at just over $22 million. State Budget Secretary David Brinkley said the largest portion of that, about $10 million, is the result of shorter hospital visits on average. The University System of Maryland loses $8 million, including money for 30 vacant positions that won’t be filled. Brinkley said Morgan State University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Baltimore City Community College will see cuts of a similar proportion relative to those schools’ budgets, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.

KOPP CRITICIZES DACA ACTION: State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp leveled a blistering critique of President Donald J. Trump Wednesday in response to the president’s decision to end protections for people brought into the country illegally as children. The Sun’s Michael Dresser reports that Kopp, a Democrat, called the decision “just un-American” and “wrong.” “The so-called leaders in Washington are bringing out the worst in us,” Kopp said during her opening remarks at the Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis.

DR. WEN TELLS HER STORY: Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen writes about her own immigrant story in a piece for the opinion page of the Sun. In supporting the DACA program, she also relates that to the dreamers whose futures are now left uncertain.

BEER SALES IN FOOD STORES? The idea of grocery store selling beer is popular with consumers, but Maryland’s brewery industry is far less enamored with taking on the political fight. Doing so would require upending Prohibition-era laws that protect liquor stores from chain store competition. And though a high-profile panel of beer industry leaders on Wednesday discussed whether to promote sales in grocery stores, few expect beer companies or legislative leaders to push for the change unless consumers start clamoring, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser report in the Sun.

ARUNDEL EYES LAWSUITS TO CURB OPIOID ABUSE: Anne Arundel County officials took a step Wednesday toward suing doctors, manufacturers and others who make, distribute and prescribe opioid painkillers contributing to the rampant abuse of the drugs in the county, Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports. County Executive Steve Schuh announced that he has hired the Washington-based Motley Rice law firm to investigate and sue opioid manufacturers, distributors and local “pill mill” doctors.

CARROLL TOUTS CRISIS COLLABORATION: Opioid crisis response personnel from across the state and Carroll County Commissioner Stephen Wantz praised agencies in Carroll for their collaboration when it comes to dealing with the deadly epidemic, Catalina Righter of the Carroll County Times reports.

PURPLE LINE DECISION: U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon is expected to decide as early as Friday whether to stop the construction team building the Purple Line from removing trees on the Georgetown Branch Trail, part of the light-rail’s proposed route, while a lawsuit is litigated. A group of longstanding opponents of the Purple Line has filed its second lawsuit designed to stop construction of the line and was seeking a temporary restraining order Wednesday from Leon to prevent Purple Line Transit Partners from cutting down trees along the trail, which runs from Bethesda to Silver Spring, Andrew Metcalf writes for Bethesda Beat.

HOGAN URGES PREPPING FOR IRMA: With Hurricane Irma barreling through the Caribbean, Maryland emergency officials are encouraging residents to prepare in advance, Elizabeth Janney of N. Baltimore Patch writes. “Preparing for an emergency before it happens can make a huge difference in our homes and communities,” Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

ICC TO BE NAMED AFTER EHRLICH: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) plans to name the Intercounty Connector highway after former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) on Thursday, Ehrlich confirmed to Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters late Wednesday afternoon. “Obviously, it’s a very nice gesture,” Ehrlich said. “I really appreciate it. It takes you back to a lot of battles.”

HOWARD’S INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT: Howard County’s Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano is putting his mark on the school system, Len Lazarick writes in MarylandReporter.com.

DEL. SANCHEZ TO RUN FOR STATE SENATE: Del. Carlo Sanchez (D) is about to make it official: He’ll run for the District 47 state Senate seat in Prince George’s County next year, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters. Sanchez is putting out the word in an email to supporters Thursday morning, and he also plans to say something publicly at the District 47 Democratic picnic Saturday in Brentwood – where the incumbent state senator, Victor Ramirez (D), is expected to formally announce his bid for Prince George’s state’s attorney.

NO-FICKER FORUM: Republican county executive candidate Robin Ficker is objecting to a Nov. 15 forum hosted by The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce because the event includes only the three Democratic candidates for the position, Doug Tallman of MyMCmedia reports. The event got an attack from a second front — that the chamber was seeking $50 from chamber members and $70 from nonmembers who wished to attend.

JOBS & WAGE HIKES: In a guest commentary for Maryland Matters, Democrat Montgomery Councilmember Marc Elrich, who is running for county executive and is a proponent of the $15 minimum wage, writes about the flawed study that was released that said that thousands of jobs would be lost with a hike to $15.

HARASSMENT COMPLAINANT QUITS JOB: Assistant Washington County Administrator Sarah Lankford Sprecher, who earlier this year filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment by Commissioner LeRoy Myers, resigned her position Wednesday. CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports that Sprecher did not respond to phone or email messages seeking comment, but her attorney said the decision was based on workplace conditions that had “become unbearable due to her complaint.”

MEME FIGHT: Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News-Post follows up on the argument that two Frederick councilmen are having over a Facebook meme someone posted on one members page about the other. To hear one councilman tell it, the argument almost came to blows.

  • J D

    Nancy Kopp is the main cause that almost made Maryland bankrupted for favoring many of the 42 state fees. As the Treasurer she is responsible for the state finances. When the finances are bad she recommends some unpopular ideas like tax hikes. So for 8 years Nancy kopp was responsible for 41 out of 42 fees. Also her office seems to be immune from criticism but that statement from someone whose jobs can be terminated anytime on DACA needs to be criticised. Many don’t know that every 4 years 2 people are put up in the legislature to be voted upon for state treasurer and it is time that process become open and lets hope she isn’t treasurer that much longer and we may have to wait till 2019 since the lawmakers have no guts to pursue impeachment and the Gov has no guts to terminate her himself for being old friends from the Ehrlich administration that even back then she was trying to ruin our finances as a state. Both parties are at fault for her out of control and wreckless agenda. Kopp needs to step down and run for the US Senate. Hey Delegates and Senators you are at fault about 97 percent of them and many of them needs to lose re-election.