SCHOOL FUNDING LOCKBOX: Gov. Larry Hogan threw his support Wednesday behind establishing a statutory “lockbox” to ensure that revenues from Maryland’s six casinos are used to enhance public school funding — not just to meet the state’s minimum obligations to finance education, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. The governor said at a State House news conference that his proposal would result in an extra $4.4 billion for K-12 education over the next decade — $1 billion of it for school construction.
- Hogan plans to introduce legislation similar to a bill proposed by Democrats last month that would require the state’s share of casino money to be spent on K-12 public education. The main difference between the two bills is that the Democrats’ proposal includes a constitutional amendment that would need voter approval, while Hogan’s bill does not.
- Hogan was joined by Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot, a longtime opponent of gambling, who once called claims that casino revenues would supplement education funding a “fiscal fairy tale,” writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. “The proposal, slots for tots, was a fraud,” Franchot said. Everybody knew it was. It had a nice name, a catchy name as the governor said.”
- Hogan said his legislation would add $4.4 billion to school funding over 10 years, including $1 billion for school construction, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports. “Ensuring that this money is required to be used the way voters were promised it would be is long overdue,” he said.
- Election year politics is fueling the two proposals, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com. School funding is one of the top issues for voters.
FETAL HOMICIDE: The parents of a slain pregnant Olney woman urged lawmakers Wednesday to pass legislation making the killing of a fetus – at any stage of development – a criminal homicide unless death occurred during a lawful abortion or other medical procedure, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record. But women’s- and civil-rights groups, though voicing sympathy for the parents’ losses, pressed a Senate committee to leave unamended the current law, which holds that the crimes of murder and manslaughter apply only to viable fetuses.
HATE CRIME EXPANSION: Lawmakers are looking to change Maryland hate crime law after a Pasadena man received probation for hanging a noose at Crofton Middle School in May last year, prompting Judge Paul Harris presiding over the case to ask lawmakers to take a “closer look” at the statute. Some lawmakers are doing just that, and Sen. John Astle’s legislation went before committee Wednesday. His legislation would add the word “group” to the state’s hate crime legislation, reports Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital.
PARENTAL INTERVENTION FOR ADDICTS: A relatively recent spike in deaths related to synthetic opioid fentanyl, its cousin carfentanil and ever-emerging variations of the two has emphasized the importance of getting addicts into treatment immediately, said Del. Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel. That’s why Kipke, the Maryland House minority leader, is sponsoring a bill granting parents of adults struggling with addiction more authority to act on their children’s behalf, Alex Mann of Capital News Service reports.
DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED: A Frederick County delegate is looking to double the penalty for driving while impaired with a child in the car. Kelsi Loos reports for the Frederick News-Post. There were around 300 violations in the Maryland courts for driving while impaired by alcohol while transporting a minor in fiscal 2017, according to a Department of Legislative Services analysis.
PUGH WON’T DISBAND POLICE: Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said Wednesday that she has no intention of disbanding a police department beset by distrust stemming from the federal corruption investigation that concluded this week after convicting a total of eight city officers, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun. She was referring to calls from members of the General Assembly to do just that and start from scratch.
FIGHT TRUMP EPA: Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and Del. Dana M. Stein write in a guest commentary for Maryland Matters that the 2018 Maryland General Assembly has much to do to thwart some of the Trump administration’s worst policies and protect our own residents. One clear action item: We must ban chlorpyrifos. The EPA determined that all uses of chlorpyrifos should be banned due to the high risk of children’s exposure in utero or during critical periods of growth and to the link between chlorpyrifos exposure and autism, ADHD and other neurodevelopmental issues. However, under the Trump administration, one of the EPA administrator’s first acts was to override his own agency’s recommendation and reverse that decision.
LINING UP SUPPORT FOR MO CO AMAZON HQ: Not long after Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement last month that he would propose a $5 billion package of incentives to attract Amazon’s second headquarters to Montgomery County, County Executive Ike Leggett met with members of the local state legislative delegation to urge support of a bill to enact major elements of the governor’s plan into law, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Beat.
SHEA PICKS RUNNING MATE: Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea has tapped Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott as his running mate in the Democratic primary for governor, creating a city-centric ticket designed to appeal to several wings of the party, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.
- Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that Shea is a longtime Democratic fundraiser and last month reported a total of $2 million in campaign donations, including $500,000 he contributed to himself. He was one of two candidates who had seven figures in the bank at the start of the year (the other was Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz).
- Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes about why the Shea-Scott ticket makes sense.
DELEGATE HOPEFUL WON’T QUIT: Dea Thomas, who is running for the House of Delegates for the 46th District, miscarried last week at almost seven months along. She had thought about quitting the race. However, writes Erin Cox in the Sun, she now says that, “Every one of us in Baltimore has experienced a hardship that we’ve had to overcome by picking ourselves up and pushing on through. I’ve decided to honor my late son by continuing this fight.”
B’MORE’s FAILED AMAZON BID: Baltimore used a lushly designed website to offer itself up to Amazon — unsuccessfully, it turned out — as a place where the online retailer could reshape the city by bringing its second headquarters and a promised 50,000 jobs to the Port Covington waterfront, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports.
BAKER AIDE BACKGROUND: A Prince George’s County Council candidate who is a senior adviser to County Executive Rushern Baker was accused of sexually harassing a colleague a decade ago while working in a different county government office, Rachel Chason reports in the Post. The allegations led to a nearly $150,000 civil judgment against Prince George’s, after a jury found the government knew or should have known about the harassment.