State Roundup, January 17, 2019

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HOGAN INAUGURATED: Maryland’s two-term Republican Gov. Larry Hogan urged a different direction for the GOP on Wednesday after taking the oath of office for another four years, report Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater for the Sun. With President Donald Trump deeply unpopular in Maryland and the federal government partially shut down over Trump’s demands for a border wall, Hogan, who was introduced by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, praised the traditional wing of the Republican Party, while condemning the dysfunction in Washington and seeming to blame both the president and national Democratic leaders.

HIGH MARKS FROM BOTH SIDES: Hogan received high marks – from both sides of the aisle – for his inaugural address that touched on themes of bipartisanship and history Wednesday afternoon, writes Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters. As the military band splayed walk-off music on the State House lawn, Baltimore County Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D) gave a glowing review of the governor’s address.

DAY IN PICTURES: Sun Media Group photographers Joshua McKerrow and Kenneth Lam capture the inauguration in this detailed photo gallery.

WHO PAID FOR THE GALA? More than 60 companies donated money to sponsor Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford’s 2019 inaugural gala, Carey Milligan reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. Among the top donors are Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., the Baltimore Orioles, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Comcast Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Exelon Generation, said Tom Kelso, the chairman of Hogan’s Inaugural Committee.

BARBERA SWEARS IN HOGAN: Steve Lash of the Daily Record made note of the fact that Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera on Wednesday swore in the governor who will appoint her successor. Barbera will reach Maryland’s mandatory retirement age of 70 in September 2021, when Gov. Larry Hogan will be nearing the end of the third year of his second term in office.

LAWMAKERS MULL AVOIDING REFERENDUM ON SPORTS BETTING: General Assembly leaders are considering a fast-track proposal under which lawmakers would legalize betting on football, basketball and other sports without first seeking voter approval in the 2020 election, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun.

3rd FEDERAL SUIT AGAINST PURPLE LINE: Opponents of Maryland’s Purple Line project have filed a third federal lawsuit aimed at stopping the rail line’s construction, arguing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly allowed work that will harm streams and wetlands, Katherine Shaver reports for the Post.

OPINION: HOGAN UNLIKELY TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT: In a column for his Red Maryland blog, Brian Griffiths opines that Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign in 2014 was about Maryland. His campaign has been about Maryland. His governing style has been about Maryland. Gov. Hogan’s second-term priorities? They include tax relief, improving schools, and reducing the regulatory burden to help improve Maryland’s business climate. While Martin O’Malley’s second-term was dedicated from Day One toward positioning O’Malley for a run for president, that’s not what the Hogan agenda looks like.

***INAUGURAL PODCAST: A Miner Detail Podcast and MarylandReporter.com are partnering this session to bring news from the annual 90-day legislative session. Senators Brian Feldman, D-Potomac, and Steve Hershey, R-Upper Shore, will join Ryan Miner and Len Lazarick at 7 p.m. at Harry Browne’s tonight, Thursday, Jan. 17 to discuss this week’s biggest legislative news.
Here’s the link to the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1776947215743106/

OPINION: NATIONAL STAGE ON HOGAN’s MIND: In a column for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz opines that “Hogan has found the Midas Touch at home when it comes to his governing style and political persona. And it’s plainly apparent that Hogan has a message he wants to deliver to fellow Republicans and a broader national audience. … Any doubt about Hogan’s national ambitions – whether he actually runs for higher office one day or not – should be erased by the fact that Mark Salter, the wordsmith and muse of the late U.S. Sen. John S. McCain co-wrote his speech.”

OPINION: LIERMAN ON DeFILIPPO, RANKED CHOICE VOTING: In a response to a column on ranked choice voting by Frank DeFilippo in Maryland Matters, Del. Brooke Lierman writes that “DeFilippo … warns that giving Baltimore the option for a top-two primary and ranked choice voting would ‘neuter’ political parties and erase competition from elections. He blames voters for ‘refusing’ to comply with a two-party duopoly and frames a more inclusive alternative as dangerous. But government isn’t about serving the interests of insiders.”

WA CO DRUG, ALCOHOL DEATHS SPIKE: Washington County saw a 66% spike in drug- and alcohol-related deaths over the last year, ranking it among the worst in the state, reports Dan Dearth for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The Maryland Department of Health recently reported the county’s total number of intoxication deaths related to drugs and alcohol increased from 41 in the first three quarters of 2017 to 68 in the first three quarters of 2018.

HOPKINS TO STUDY ADDICTION TREATMENT: Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have been awarded $2.1 million by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study whether paying patients to take their medicine and tracking their doses with video software can help patients stick with their treatment for opioid addiction, Sarah Meehan of the Sun reports.

SHUTDOWN BENEFIT: SHORTER COMMUTE: Federal workers and contractors who still have to travel south on Interstate 270 are at least seeing an easier commute, reports Ryan Marshall for the Frederick News-Post. The shutdown has led to a considerable reduction in congestion on the Washington region’s major roads during the morning commutes, according to an analysis conducted by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board. Similarly, Maryland’s MARC system has seen a sharp drop in the sale of monthly passes.

TRONE ON SHUTDOWN: Democratic freshman U.S. Rep. David Trone says his Republican colleagues and their constituents are growing frustrated with the partial government shutdown, Dan Schere and Louis Peck write in Bethesda Beat. “I think a lot of Republicans are questioning where this [shutdown] is going, because they’re getting a lot of pushback from their districts,” said Trone, of Potomac, who represents Maryland’s 6th District.

BA CO SCHOOLS SEEK PERMANENT SUPER: John Lee of WYPR-FM reports that the Baltimore County School Board is about to try again to find a permanent school superintendent. This comes as the interim superintendent, Verletta White, said she still wants the job. School Board chairwoman Kathleen Causey said she expects the school board to get briefed on a new superintendent search at its meeting next week, on Jan. 22.