ASSEMBLY OVERRIDES VETO: In the final twist of a political power struggle in Annapolis, the Maryland General Assembly on Thursday overrode Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that strips away his role in awarding hundreds of millions of dollars annually in school construction projects, Michael Dresser and Erin Cox of the Sun report.
- Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes that Maryland lawmakers shrugged off dire warnings from Gov. Hogan on Thursday, voting to override the Republican executive’s veto of a controversial school construction measure. Because of the Democrats’ sizable advantage in the 141-member House of Delegates, backers of the legislation had little trouble marshaling the necessary votes, ending up with a five-vote cushion.
- Democrats say sidestepping the three-member Board of Public Works removes the politics from school construction. Instead, the authority to approve construction funding will go to the Interagency Committee on School Construction, known as the IAC. The IAC currently gives recommendations to the Board of Public Works. The legislation makes it an independent commission under the State Department of Education’s umbrella, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.
- David Collins of WBAL-TV reports that Hogan had said that, “This bill, if allowed to become law, would be an unmitigated disaster for our state, which would create a disgusting cesspool of cronyism and corruption in the school funding process.” Lawmakers pushed the legislation through both chambers last week. Democrats charge that under the old system, the governor and comptroller played politics with their authority.
- One Republican member of the General Assembly is ready to kiss the “beg-a-thon” goodbye. Del. Pat McDonough (R-Baltimore, Harford), who I running for Baltimore County executive, was the only GOP lawmaker in either chamber to vote to override Hogan’s veto of the 21st Century School Facilities Act., Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters. McDonough said he did it in part because he was tired of seeing local officials grovel before the Board of Public Works.
- All six members of the Washington County delegation — all Republicans — voted against overriding the veto, according to the Hagerstown Herald Mail.
MUSE DID NOT VOTE: Sen. Anthony Muse violated Senate rules Thursday when he decided to not cast a vote when his Democratic colleagues overrode a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The 29-15-1 vote to override a veto on a bill that reconstitutes a panel that allocates state aid for school construction did not include Muse, a Prince George’s County Democrat. Muse, who was on the floor at the time of the vote, acknowledged the failure to vote was intentional and not an oversight but in doing so, violated chamber rules requiring members who are in their seats and on the floor to vote.
OVERRIDE ON TEACHER DISCIPLINE: A bill allowing public school teachers recommended for suspension or termination to bypass school board discipline hearings and use an outside arbitrator to decide the case will become law, despite Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the measure, Glynis Kazanjian writes in MarylandReporter.com. The Senate and House overrode the veto Thursday.
BILL SIGNING ROUNDUP: In a roundup of what bills were signed yesterday, Gov. Hogan inked legislation to bolster the state’s health insurance market in the wake of federal changes according to the Capital News Service. Hogan also signed the budget. Meanwhile, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, alongside the Legislature’s Latino Caucus, announced the state is joining 19 others to sue the federal government over citizenship questions on the 2020 census.
- A bill signing Thursday offered a short-lived moment of bipartisanship before the 2018 legislative session moved back to partisan politics, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. It was smiles and thumbs up all around from Gov. Larry Hogan and House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Mike Miller as the three signed into law seven bills, including legislation meant to stabilize, at least temporarily, individual market health insurance rates in Maryland.
AUTOMATIC VOTING REGISTRATION: Maryland will join 10 other states and D.C. in automatically putting residents on the voting rolls when they get a driver’s license, use a social services agency or buy insurance on the health exchange, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. Gov. Larry Hogan let legislation to create the program become law without his signature on Thursday, and it will take effect next July, after the 2018 election
SENATE OKs SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER BILL: Just weeks after a fatal shooting at a school in Southern Maryland, and with the nation focused on gun violence, the Maryland Senate gave final approval Thursday to a bill that would require a resource officer or police coverage for every public school, Ovetta Wiggins and Rachel Chason report for the Post. But lawmakers do not know how much the mandate would cost or how it would be funded.
DEBTORS’ PRISON: The Maryland Constitution – and 80 years of state case law – make clear that a person cannot be jailed for disobeying an order to pay money based on a debt. Yet, debtors’ prisons continue to exist in our state, Marceline White writes in a guest commentary for MarylandReporter.com. Legislation (SB 1050/HB 1081) to eliminate debtors prisons in Maryland has passed the Senate but is currently awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
KAMENETZ PROPOSES MONEY FOR RESOURCE OFFICERS: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced Thursday an $8 million public school safety package that would pay for more school resource officers, social workers and counselors throughout the school district, Pamela Wood of the Sun is reporting.
MANDATORY MINIMUMS: A delegate whose grandson was shot to death in Baltimore last Labor Day urged senators Thursday to pass legislation to impose mandatory minimum sentences on repeat gun offenders, a position at odds with the legislator’s more liberal views before the killing, the Daily Record’s Steve Lash reports.
REINSURANCE BILLS: Gov. Larry Hogan approved one reinsurance bill adopted by the legislature and a second reinsurance bill gained final passage Thursday, but these measures likely remain short-term solutions to the state’s individual health insurance market woes, Tim Curtis reports for the Daily Record.
- The legislation creates a reinsurance program that will be run by the state’s Health Benefits Exchange to protect insurers against catastrophically expensive claims, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.
MEDICAID DENTAL CARE: Del. Mike McKay’s quest to add adult dental care to the state’s Medicaid program is inching toward reality as a bill to create a pilot program nears passage in the Maryland General Assembly, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports.
BALTIMORE SUBWAY BILL: The Maryland General Assembly on Thursday approved legislation requiring Gov. Larry Hogan to allocate an extra $178 million over three years to the state agency that operates the subway in Baltimore, which was recently closed for a month for emergency repairs, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.
CONVERSION THERAPY: Four Anne Arundel County delegates did not vote on a bill banning licensed medical professionals from practicing conversion therapy on children despite a personal speech from a Republican colleague, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports. Nic Kipke, Sid Saab, Michael Malone, and Seth Howard did not cast a vote after Del. Meagan Simonaire told members of the House of Delegates that her father, a state senator, considered the therapy when she revealed she was bisexual.
- Rachel Chason of the Post writes about Del. Meagan Simonaire and her very public stand, as a bisexual woman, against gay conversion therapy, which her father, Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel), who also opposed same-sex marriage, suggested that families should be able to use.
- In a column for the Annapolis Capital, Sen. Bryan Simonaire emphasizes that he did not send his daughter to conversion therapy but only suggested that she seek Christian counseling. He adds that, “During the debate on the conversion therapy legislation, we heard words like coercion, torture camps, electric shock, mental torture and other terrible claims. You can be sure I would never support that type of treatment of minors. However, there were three main flaws in the poorly drafted legislation.”
RASKIN ON MIDEAST TRIP: Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports that U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin—back from his first trip abroad as a member of Congress since his 2016 election—returned home with decidedly mixed emotions. “We could be in meetings for hours with government officials, and leave in a very despondent mood,” recalls the Takoma Park Democrat, part of a legislative delegation to Israel, Jordan and Afghanistan. “… What gives me the most hope is all of the young people throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan who are working for peace and reconciliation and human rights for everyone.”
SINCLAIR CHIEF ON PRINT MEDIA: New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi corresponds with David Smith, the executive chairman of Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, who said he dislikes and fundamentally distrusts the print media, which he believes “serves no real purpose.” Smith said that print — as in newspapers and magazines — is a reality-distorting tool of leftists. Print media, he said, has “no credibility” and no relevance.
CORRECTION: Contrary to Tuesday’s story about Montgomery County’s daunting Democratic ballot, there is no third page. All Montgomery County ballots are two sides of a single page, the county board of elections reports.