HOUSE OKs AID-IN-DYING BILL: Following an intense and emotional debate that brought some lawmakers to tears, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill Thursday that would allow terminally ill adults to obtain prescription drugs they could take to end their lives, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. It was the fourth attempt to pass the bill; it has failed in three past General Assembly sessions. Thursday’s vote was 74-66 — three votes more than the 71 votes required for passage.
- One lawmaker told her colleagues of the excruciating pain she endured during breast cancer treatments. Another talked about a former state senator, alive and well 15 years after he was comatose and given a 1% chance of survival. A third spoke tearfully of his mother’s unsuccessful attempt to take her own life while battling terminal cancer, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post.
- Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes that during the debate, Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith, a nurse and lawyer who worked at the National Institutes of Health, referred to the bill sponsor Del. Shane M. Pendergrass and floor leader Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk as her “sheroes,” but said she couldn’t support them on this bill. “In years to come, this option will not be perceived as a dignity, it will be perceived as duty, a duty to die and save resources and save others from having to take care of us,” she said.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that the vote, which divided both parties, was “a remarkable moment,” said Pendergrass. “Everyone is one bad death away from supporting this bill,” said Pendergrass.
- If the Anne Arundel County delegation solely decided on the passage of a medically assisted suicide bill, it would have failed on an 8-7 vote Thursday afternoon, Chase Cook is reporting the Annapolis Capital.
- A somber silence descended on the chamber as delegates listened to one after another of their colleagues stand and share personal stories in a debate about how the terminally ill should end their lives, writes Diane Rey in MarylandReporter.com.
BILL CLINTON CELEBRATES MIKE MILLER: When the secretary of the Senate told Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com in January that ex-senator P.J. Hogan was trying to get former President Bill Clinton to be the speaker for the annual dinner of Senates Past, they both agreed that was highly unlikely. But lo and behold, the surprise guest keynote speaker for the annual reunion of former senators Thursday night was none other than the 42nd president of the United States.
BILL GIVES SMALL BIZ TIL 2028 FOR $15 WAGE: The Maryland Senate is advancing a version of a minimum wage increase that gives small businesses more time – til 2028 — to reach a $15 minimum wage. The state’s current minimum wage is $10.10 per hour after increasing for the past four years, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun.
REVENUE PROJECTIONS DROP: Maryland’s government will receive hundreds of millions less in revenue than officials previously expected, members of a state fiscal panel said Thursday. The three-member Board of Revenue Estimates reported that the state now expects about $138 million less than anticipated for the fiscal year 2019 budget and about $269 million less over the next two years, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that the reductions — nearly $138 million in the current fiscal year and $131.2 million in fiscal 2020 — are fully attributed to volatile personal income tax returns, according to Andrew Schaufele, director of the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates.
NEW REDISTRICTING MAP: There is a growing likelihood that the General Assembly will meet in special session this summer to approve a congressional map for the 2020 election, despite an expected plea from Gov. Larry Hogan to adopt a map during the current session, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. The Emergency Commission on 6th Congressional District Gerrymandering last week adopted a proposed map for use next year. The public will have two opportunities to offer feedback on the proposal this month.
ON FRANCHOT: Calling Comptroller Peter Franchot “an opportunist who takes every chance to put himself in the limelight” who has politicized his office, the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital nonetheless opines that instead of stripping Franchot of his authority by passing “legislation that could harm businesses and consumers in a moment of political pique, the General Assembly should send the issue of liquor law reform for study.”
- In this interview with Franchot by Ryan Miner of A Miner Detail podcast hours after the House of Delegates voted to strip his agency of regulating alcohol and tobacco, Franchot laments what he described as the Annapolis Machine and took to task Speaker Michael Busch’s handling of the Mary Ann Lisanti scandal that erupted last Monday.
ANTI-FRACKING PIPELINE ACTION: Proponents gathered Thursday to support legislation to make it more difficult for companies to build pipelines to transport “fracked” gas. Both the Maryland Senate and the House of Delegates are considering the measure, reports Tamela Baker in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The bills are in part a response to efforts by Columbia Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of TransCanada, to build a pipeline under the Potomac River near Hancock.
FEDERAL WORKERS PROTECTION BILL: The Maryland Senate on Thursday advanced to a final vote legislation aimed at protecting federal workers in the state from the next government shutdown. The Senate’s action follows this week’s favorable vote in the Finance Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Delores Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat, Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes.
JHU POLICE FORCE NEARER TO OK: A majority of Baltimore’s state senators voted Thursday to endorse legislation to create an armed police force at the private Johns Hopkins University, meaning the bill cleared a major hurdle to its passage, report Luke Broadwater and Christina Tkacik of the Sun. By a 3-2 vote, the city Senate delegation backed legislation authorizing the force after imposing limits on the areas officers can patrol and requiring a quarter of the 100 officers to live in the city, among other restrictions.
- Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew writes that there has been some confusion about which neighborhood blocks an armed Johns Hopkins police force would patrol, but the boundaries for the patrols have become clearer.
CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATION: Whether a parent has an ability to earn a paycheck and enough money to live on are among provisions a court could consider when writing child support orders, under legislation before the Maryland General Assembly, writes Yvonne Wenger in the Sun. A handful of bills recommended by a work group made up of child advocates, family law attorneys and public stakeholders would also increase the amount separated parents would pay under a formula updated to reflect how much it costs to raise a child.
PENALTIES FOR MASS VIOLENCE THREAT: Emergency legislation that would streamline penalties for those convicted of threats of mass violence — brought about by an increase in threats of mass shootings made in recent years — has passed the Maryland Senate and is advancing in the House, Jared Beinart of Capital News Service reports.
STOPPING TEACHER HOPPING: After high-profile sexual misconduct cases in schools, Maryland took a step Thursday toward joining a growing number of states enacting legislation to prevent teachers with records of misconduct from moving school-to-school, Brian Witte of the AP is reporting. The Maryland House of Delegates voted 140-0 to ban nondisclosure agreements involving sexual abuse for school employees who have direct contact with children.
90 MINUTES OF PHYS ED A WEEK: For the first time since it was introduced a decade ago, a bill requiring that elementary schools provide students 90 minutes of physical education instruction each week — double what Montgomery students get — received approval Thursday in the state House of Delegates, Caitlynn Peetz reports in Bethesda Beat.
LEGISLATURE TO PAY ANNAPOLIS FOR SERVICES: Annapolis will receive $750,000 a year in perpetuity after the Maryland General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation mandating repayment for city services, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports. The House of Delegates voted 135-5 Thursday to pass Senate Bill 156 requiring the state pay the city for trash collection and other services. The $750,000 will be adjusted for inflation starting in fiscal year 2022. The Senate passed the House version of the bill Monday.
SARBANES BILL IN U.S. HOUSE: Flexing their new majority, Democrats are moving to push through the House a comprehensive elections and ethics reform package, mainly written by Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes, that they say will reduce the role of big money in politics, ensure fair elections and restore ethics and integrity to Washington. The legislation, called H.R. 1 to signify its importance, would make it easier to register and vote, tighten election security and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.