State Roundup, January 11, 2019

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MILLER TALKS CANCER, FUTURE: An emotional Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, a powerful and long-tenured figure in state government, announced Thursday he is undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and vowed to continue working throughout the General Assembly session, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.

PROFILE OF MIKE MILLER: In a lengthy and detailed profile for Governing Magazine, Daniel Vock writes about Senate President Mike Miller, the longest serving state Senate president in the country and how he has stayed there. “At first glance,” he writes, “Miller seems an unlikely choice to lead a legislative chamber in one of the country’s most liberal states. He’s an old-school Irish Catholic who collects guns as a hobby and lives in the countryside.”

MARYLANDERS SUPPORT $15 MINIMUM WAGE: In one of the top issues facing legislators in Annapolis this session, 61% of Maryland voters favor raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and almost half (47%) strongly favor the idea, according to a new poll for MarylandReporter.com by Gonzales Research & Media Services. Len Lazarick reports the story for MarylandReporter.

DELEGATE AIDE CHARGED IN ROBO-CALLS: Maryland prosecutors said Thursday they have charged the top aide of a state delegate with making illegal robocalls about rights for transgender people against fellow Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga, who is a member of the state’s GOP leadership, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

CLIPPINGER SETS NEW TONE FOR JUDICIARY PANEL: Del. Luke Clippinger, the House Judiciary Committee’s first new chair in a quarter century told the panel’s members Thursday that they shalt not “pass” when it is their turn to vote on legislation and that witnesses testifying on legislation must sign in with the committee at least 30 minutes before the bill hearing or forever hold their peace, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record. This is quite different from how former Del. Joe Vallario handled the committee during his 25 year reign.

PARK SERVICE MERGES SOCIAL ACCOUNTS: The Maryland Park Service is eliminating several dozen park-unique social media accounts, consolidating its messaging on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram into single accounts, much to the chagrin of parkgoers who like and want park-specific information, Hallie Miller of the Sun reports.

HOGAN UPS DRUG ABUSE SPENDING: The Hogan administration announced Thursday that it wants to increase state spending on addiction treatment and substance abuse prevention to escalate efforts that have so far failed to reverse an ever-increasing death toll from opioid overdoses in Maryland, Doug Donovan writes in the Sun.

SEN. YOUNG GETS HIS BILLS FILED: Sen. Ron Young, a Democrat from Frederick County, is one of only a few senators to pre-file bills for the session and have them introduced on Wednesday, writes Samantha Hogan for the Frederick News-Post. The early start may help breathe new life into bills that in past sessions have not made it through. Two of the bills that will resurface in 2019 deal with the collection of income tax, but from two very different groups: retirees and medical cannabis growers, processors, dispensaries and independent testing laboratories.

PARROTT REPLACED AS WA CO DELEGATION CHAIR: Members of Washington County’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly unanimously chose Thursday morning to replace delegation Chairman Neil Parrott, R-Washington, with Del. William Wivell, R-Washington. Parrott announced in early November that he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential 2020 run for Congress in District 6, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

W. MD BEGINS TO AIR OBJECTIONS TO LAND SWAP: While the Prince George’s County end of Gov. Larry Hogan’s long-shot proposal to swap land with the federal government for a new Washington Redskins football stadium has been the subject of much heated debate, less attention has been paid to the western Maryland end of the deal. That’s starting to change, the Sun’s Luke Broadwater writes.

DELMARVA GOVs TO MEET: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will join Delaware Gov. John Carney and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in Salisbury on Feb. 11 for “A Conversation with the Governors of Delmarva,” writes Susan Canfora for the Salisbury Independent.

GERRYMANDERING CASES COULD SET NEW STANDARDS: Three U.S. Supreme Court gerrymandering cases originating in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina could change control of one state capitol and possibly establish a new standard for how far states can go in drawing partisan political boundaries after the 2020 elections, Tom Pugh writes in Maryland Matters.

VAN HOLLEN CONCERNED OVER MUELLER PROBE: Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday that the departure of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would threaten Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation at a time when the integrity of the Justice Department “is under assault” by President Donald Trump, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports. “I’m very concerned about the news that he may leave,” Van Hollen, a Democrat, said in an interview. “He has played a key role in protecting the integrity and independence of the Mueller investigation.”