State Roundup, December 14, 2018

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$1B SURPLUS, BUT RECESSION POSSIBLE: Maryland’s government is entering a new year with more than $1 billion in unspent revenue, but should be bracing for a potential economic recession, members of a state fiscal panel said. The Sun’s Luke Broadwater writes that the $1 billion in unspent revenue is due to a $500 million surplus from last fiscal year, plus more money coming into state government due to changes in federal tax law and sales tax on online purchases, according to the Board of Revenue Estimates.

OPPOSITION TO NEW STADIUM GROWS: Opposition is mounting in the Democratic-controlled Maryland legislature to Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal for a new Redskins stadium in a park overlooking the Potomac River in Prince George’s County. House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch said Thursday he is opposed to spending taxpayer money on infrastructure for a new stadium when the state has more pressing needs, such as increasing school funding, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

PIMLICO PLANS UNVEILED: After dismissing two less ambitious options, the Maryland Stadium Authority on Thursday proposed replacing the faded Pimlico Race Course with a stylish — and costly — track designed to open its amenities to the surrounding community year-round and encourage development in a distressed area of Baltimore, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.

RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY GOALS: Maryland may join the growing list of states that get most of their electricity from renewable sources. Legislation state lawmakers plan to take up when they return to Annapolis next month would require Maryland to hit that goal by the year 2030, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.

CANNABIS HEARING SET: State regulators have scheduled a public hearing to address concerns that national cannabis corporations are trying to dominate Maryland’s medical marijuana market by skirting rules designed to prevent a few firms from controlling the burgeoning industry, Doug Donovan of the Sun writes. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission announced that its policy committee will host an open meeting about ownership rules on Jan. 8 — a day before the General Assembly is set to begin a new legislative session expected to tackle the same issue.

FARM BILL HELPS BAY: The federal farm bill — approved Wednesday by Congress — does more than set federal agricultural and food policy for five years. Other groups are cheering the long-awaited passage of the legislation, including advocates for the Chesapeake Bay, food stamp recipients and the renewable energy industry, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

  • The AP’s Maya Rao is reporting that the farm bill only advanced after Republicans inserted language into an associated procedural rule that barred a floor vote for the rest of 2018 on a resolution limiting U.S. intervention in war-torn Yemen. Lawmakers passed that rule 206-203 — with the votes of five Democrats, including Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger — even as the Senate was poised to begin debating an end to America’s presence in Yemen, which the United Nations says is facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

HOYER OBJECTS TO PELOSI LIMITATION: In her quest to become speaker, Rep.Nancy Pelosi of California appears ready once again to sacrifice the higher ambitions of her No. 2, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland. And Hoyer is not shy about expressing his objections. “She’s not negotiating for me,” he snapped the other day, referring to Pelosi’s deal with a group of House Democratic rebels to impose term limits on the leadership — and not just herself — of four years. Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes the story for the New York Times.

ELLICOTT CITY ACTION ON HOLD: Chris Cioffi of Capital News Service writes, in MarylandReporter, about residents and shop owners of Ellicott City who have been flooded out twice in two years and thought that they may be getting a buyout to more as the state and Howard County attempted to mitigate further flood damage. Now, new County Executive Calvin Ball has put those plans on hold.

ELRICH TALKS SCHOOL FUNDS, BELTWAY WIDENING: Montgomery County Executive Marc B. Elrich (D) attempted to serve notice on Thursday that his constituents — widely perceived as wealthy — cannot reasonably be expected to foot the bill for a significant statewide boost in education funding, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. He also took shots at the $9 billion traffic congestion relief plan offered by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), saying a more modern approach is needed.

OLSZEWSKI TAPS TRANSITION PANELS: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Thursday released the names of dozens of county residents, activists and business leaders who are members of his transition team, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes. They’re divided among seven work groups that are examining various aspects of county government and life in the county.

MARYLANDER OF THE YEAR: The Baltimore Sun editorial board is in the final stages of polling to name the Marylander of the Year. Finalists include the Capital Gazette staff and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings among others.