2% RAISES: Maryland state employees will receive a 2% cost-of-living adjustment under a new contract agreement reached with the Hogan administration, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post. Gov. Larry Hogan’s office announced Wednesday that the administration and the four major unions that represent state employees have struck a three-year deal. The agreement follows lengthy and at times bitter negotiations that highlighted staffing shortages and working conditions for correctional officers and other employees.
- Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Council 3, which represents the largest group of affected workers, credited union members with forging the agreement and noted that Hogan tried to rescind a promised raise for state employees in his first year in office, Josh Hicks and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post write. The Hogan administration “came to the table with zero,” Moran said. “Our members earned every dime they fought for in this agreement.”
CUTS TO DEM PROGRAMS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed $17.7 billion operating budget for next fiscal year, released Wednesday, cuts funding for several Democratic priorities. Among the cuts are $5 million from a mentorship and scholarship program for students in high-poverty areas, $5 million from extended afterschool and summer programs, and $9 million for a teacher development and mentorship program, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.
OPIOID CRISIS FUNDING LESS THAN EXPECTED: From kindergarten to graduate school, education clearly is Gov. Larry Hogan’s priority in this election year. The proof is spelled out in his administration’s $44.4 billion operating budget for FY 2019 delivered to the Maryland General Assembly Wednesday. To the chagrin of health professionals and advocacy groups, new funding for Maryland’s opioid “state of emergency,” declared by Gov. Larry Hogan last March, is not as hefty as expected. The state’s upward trend in fatal and non-fatal overdoses began in 2010, and between 2015-16 deaths soared 66%, the highest per capita increase in the nation, Jo Martin reports for MarylandReporter.com.
CUTS TO BALTIMORE RECOVERY: Gov. Larry Hogan is proposing cuts to programs passed to help Baltimore recover after the riots of 2015, $10 million to lure Amazon’s new headquarters to the state and a small raise for state workers. State analysts started poring over the Republican governor’s $44.4 billion state budget proposal in detail Wednesday, providing a deeper glimpse into the final spending plan of Hogan’s four-year term, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.
FUNDS FOR ARUNDEL CO: With Gov. Hogan’s budget comes a modest overall increase in funding to Anne Arundel County, but a decrease in state funding to Anne Arundel Community College, writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. Anne Arundel County received about 1.8% more in total state aid with a $9.1 million increase to $525 million. This money includes retirement payments paid by the state.
FUNDS FOR FREDERICK CO: Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News-Post writes that the governor’s proposed budget would grant more dollars to Frederick County, but it again leaves out funding for the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center. Total aid to the county, including retirement payments, would increase 2.7% from $299.8 million to $307.9 if the legislature adopts Gov. Hogan’s fiscal 2019 budget.
FUNDS FOR WASHINGTON CO: Gov. Larry Hogan’s operating budget proposal for the new fiscal year includes nearly $200 million in direct aid for Washington County agencies, Tamela Baker reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. That represents an increase of 2%, or $3.8 million, over the current year’s allotment, and doesn’t include money for capital projects. When retirement payments for state employees are added, the total rises to nearly $217.5 million.
BREAKFAST-GATE FLAP: Republican senators are calling it “Breakfast-gate,” a minor flap over the release of Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget that has sent some Democratic lawmakers into orbit, notably Sen. President Mike Miller. It seemed a minor dustup, yet it likely is another crack in the façade of bipartisan cooperation during this year’s session of the General Assembly, as Maryland’s political class heads into an election year, Bill Zorzi of Maryland Matters writes.
- After Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, Baltimore County, expressed disappointment that Democrats had skipped the breakfast with Hogan and budget officials that morning, Miller — who is white — complained that no African American lawmakers had been asked to attend, Ovetta Wiggins is writing in the Post.
Democratic lawmakers criticized the governor for breaking with tradition and releasing details to the public before briefing the legislature and for what they said was a paring of the list of invitees that excluded women and minorities, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
ASSEMBLY LEADERS WARN TRUMP ON SHUTDOWN: The top Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly have a message for President Trump and the Republican-led Congress as they veer dangerously close to the first federal government shutdown in five years: “Enough is enough.” Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that the General Assembly leaders say they are frustrated by recent actions taken by Republicans and deeply concerned about the possibility of a shutdown, which they say could cost the state $5 million a day.
GUN PERMIT PRE-APPROVAL: A Frederick County senator has set his sights on a bill that he said would allow people to find out if they are eligible for a handgun permit before they spend money on required training, reports Kelsi Loos for the Frederick News- Post. Sen. Michael Hough (R-District 4) presented the bill Wednesday to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, of which he is a member. It would allow someone to apply for a handgun carry permit before they complete training. If their permit application is then approved, they would have 120 days to meet the training requirement.
JUVIE WEAPONS CHARGES: The Maryland public defender’s office Wednesday urged the General Assembly to pass legislation barring children from being charged as adults for gun offenses unless they actually used the weapon in a violent crime, saying the juvenile justice system must recognize the vulnerability of youth, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.
TAX CREDIT: Sen. George Edwards might introduce his own tax credit legislation during this year’s Maryland General Assembly session if he feels Gov. Larry Hogan’s isn’t expansive enough, Renee Shreve of the Garrett County Republican reports. The senator noted that Hogan plans to amend his original bill during the 2018 General Assembly, which would be of benefit to Garrett County.
NO STADIUM PUBLIC FINANCING: Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder could have another impediment to finding a new stadium site if bills in the Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia legislatures are approved: no public financing. Del. David Moon (D-Takoma Park) announced Wednesday he is introducing a bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would create a compact between D.C. and Virginia in which the jurisdictions agree not to provide public financing or incentives for a new Redskins stadium, Andrew Metcalf is reporting for Bethesda Beat.
MINORITY RX POT BUSINESSES: Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports that discrimination in Maryland’s broader business climate would justify giving minority and women-owned businesses preferences for entering the state-regulated medical marijuana market, according to a report released Wednesday. The long-awaited report, ordered by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), gives lawmakers the justification they need to pass legislation to help more minorities break into the industry.
SLEW OF OTHER BILLS: Bills on the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s access to birth certificates; airplane passenger safety; e-cigarette sales; classroom cellphone use; tuition for those in foster care; and venison donations were heard Wednesday by legislators in Annapolis, Hannah Brockway is reporting for Capital News Service.
SENIORS LOBBY: now and bad travel conditions cut the attendance at the annual United Seniors of Maryland Day of lobbying in half Wednesday. But more than 100 committed older Marylanders who did show up to lobby their legislators got strong pitches for new state services and legislation that will help control drug prices for the booming numbers of people over 60 in the state, reports Len Lazarick for Maryland Reporter.
DeVOS BACKS MD ED PLAN: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved Maryland’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan, which Gov. Larry Hogan had refused to endorse, the AP is reporting. DeVos said in a release Tuesday that Maryland’s consolidated plan had met the requirements of the law that replaced No Child Left Behind.
COFFERS IN THE GOVERNOR’s RACE: Candidates in Maryland’s crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary on Wednesday began filing their first campaign finance reports of 2018, an early window into their viability to unseat popular and well-financed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports that Alec Ross, the tech entrepreneur, was the first to file.
- Gov. Larry Hogan has more than $9 million in the bank for his re-election effort this year, according to the finance reports filed Wednesday night, giving him a sizable cash advantage over his potential Democratic rivals, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun write.
- In a column for Red Maryland, Brian Griffiths writes that while not all of the gubernatorial fundraising reports are in yet, it’s very clear that the fundraising period was a total disaster for the Democrats, who raised about $7.5 million combined.
HOGAN TAKES A DIG AT MADALENO: In announcing his budget priorities for next year, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) couldn’t resist a dig at one of the Democrats hoping to oust him this fall, Montgomery County state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, who voted against a public financing fund, but now is using it himself. In an interview, Madaleno defended his votes, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.
AFZALI FUNDRAISING FOR COUNTY EXEC RACE: Frederick County executive candidate Kathy Afzali displayed fundraising prowess in the final months of 2017, outpacing her rivals in the race for the GOP nomination and cementing her place as the perceived frontrunner in the race to oust incumbent Jan Gardner (D), Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.
THREATS ALTER RASKIN PUBLIC MEETING: Robert Silverman of the Daily Beast reports that two psychiatrists who warned that Donald Trump was inspiring violence had their point made, the hard way, when Maryland U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin abruptly canceled a planned public meeting with them at a senior center after receiving violent threats about the event.
- The meeting went on as scheduled but did not involve Lee, an expert on violence, and instead focused on the newly enacted Republican tax plan. A spokeswoman for Raskin said the congressman grew concerned over an uptick in hateful phone calls and messages received by his office, as well as online comments, leading up to the meeting, Rachel Siegel is reporting in the Post.
CITY STATE’s ATTY’s FUNDRAISING: Thanks to a $250,000 personal loan, former Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah has the most cash on hand in the race for Baltimore State’s Attorney. Vignarajah’s $412,000 on hand — which included $175,000 in contributions and the loan he gave his campaign — outpaces incumbent State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and fellow challenger Ivan Bates in the first campaign finance filing of 2018, Luke Broadwater and Justin Fenton of the Sun report.