State Roundup, April 2, 2019

BUSCH OUT WITH PNEUMONIA: House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said Monday that he is being treated for pneumonia and is uncertain if he will return to Annapolis before the 90-day session ends next week. Busch said he began feeling “run-down” last Tuesday after a follow-up procedure for his 2017 liver transplant, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

PUGH TAKES LEAVE: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, facing a call by Gov. Larry Hogan for a criminal investigation into the book deal that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars, announced Monday that she will take an indefinite leave of absence because of her health, Yvonne Wenger and Ian Duncan of the Sun report.

CALLS FOR PUGH TO RESIGN: Phil Davis of the Sun writes that the Democratic mayor is facing increasing backlash and calls to resign from Maryland officials, who took to social media to voice their displeasure with Pugh.

  • Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew writes that Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen posted on Facebook that “Mayor Pugh has lost the moral mandate to govern.” While wishing Pugh a speedy recovery from a bout of pneumonia, Cohen said she “should fully resign from office.”

HOGAN SEEKS PROBE INTO PUGH-UMMS DEAL: Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday formally asked the state prosecutor to investigate allegations of self-dealing and no-bid contracting involving Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh in her role as a member of the University of Maryland Medical System board. The medical system paid Pugh $500,000 in five installments for copies of her self-published Healthy Holly children’s book series, Luke Broadwater and Doug Donovan report in the Sun.

REVIEW OF UMMS CONTRACTS BEGINS: The independent consulting firm hired to untangle the ethical knots caused by insider contracts between the University of Maryland Medical System and several of its board members is scheduled to begin its work today, Doug Donovan and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.

OTHERS ALSO BOUGHT ‘HOLLY’ BOOKS: A team of reporters for the Sun reports that the University of Maryland Medical System wasn’t the only major buyer of Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books. Health provider Kaiser Permanente paid Pugh more than $100,000 to buy about 20,000 copies of her books during a period when the company was seeking a lucrative contract to provide health benefits to city employees.And Associated Black Charities says it collected nearly $90,000 from five entities to buy and distribute 10,000 copies of Pugh’s books, forwarding nearly $80,000 of that to Pugh’s company and pocketing the rest.

  • Melody Simmons and Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal write that in addition to a $500,000 sale to the University of Maryland Medical System, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” children’s books were also sold to Kaiser Permanente and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield over the past eight years, with Kaiser Permanente spending $114,000 on 20,000 books in 2015 and 2018.

AS SENATOR, PUGH PUSHED PRO-HOSPITAL BILLS: While she received hundreds of thousands of dollars though a no-bid book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, then state Sen. Catherine Pugh sponsored dozens of bills affecting hospitals in Maryland — including several that would have benefited UMMS. The Sun’s Luke Broadwater reports that Pugh sponsored or co-sponsored more than 40 bills affecting hospitals, doctors and insurance companies, all while serving on the medical system’s Board of Directors and repeatedly sought to make it harder for patients to sue hospitals and doctors for big judgments via medical malpractice claims and lessen the financial impact of those suits.

OPINION: HOGAN SWATS: Political pundit Barry Rascovar opines in his Political Maryland blog that perhaps it was an inadvertent salute to the start of Orioles baseball. Or perhaps Gov. Larry Hogan no longer cares about influencing the Democratic-controlled Maryland General Assembly.Whatever the reason, Hogan put on a pointless display of political ineptitude last week in vetoing three popular bills. He knew his actions would be quickly reversed.

WINNERS & LOSERS: With a week left in Maryland’s General Assembly session, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood report in the Sun that several key issues are still unsettled. But many others have been decided, and winners and losers have emerged. They offer up who came out on top — and who didn’t — in Annapolis this year.

DEL. MOSBY TOURS LAUREL TRACK: Del. Nick Mosby was not convinced Friday to stop calling for withdraw of legislation that would boost racetrack funding after touring housing at Laurel Park racetrack alongside County Executive Steuart Pittman, writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. The two politicians were joined by horse racing officials as they toured a variety of the dorms at the Laurel Park racetrack. After seeing the housing — small rooms with cracks, limited heating and shared bathrooms and showers — Mosby said racing officials should improve living conditions before using state money to improve the racetrack.

VISAS FOR CRAB HOUSE WORKERS: The Trump administration said Friday that it is making an additional 30,000 visas available so that businesses — including Maryland crab houses — will have sufficient migrant laborer, Jeff Barker reports for the Sun. Visa shortages have long been an issue for crab-picking houses that rely on a guest worker program because they say they can’t find enough workers in the U.S.

ARUNDEL TACKLES GUN VIOLENCE: A group of politicians, community leaders, law enforcement, gun control advocates and public health officials gathered at Anne Arundel Medical Center Monday to talk about gun violence as a public health crisis and concluded that change starts with more productive conversations, writes Alex Mann in the Annapolis Capital. The key to advancing that conversation and finding common ground, those gathered for the roundtable hosted by U.S Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said, could be focusing on safety — as was the case with cars in the past.

ARUNDEL LOOSENS RX POT RESTRICTIONS: After two meetings of debate and amendments, the Anne Arundel County Council has passed legislation loosening restrictions on incoming and established medical marijuana dispensaries, Chase Cook reports for the Annapolis Capital.

BA CO TEACHERS RALLY FOR SCHOOL FUNDS: The General Assembly session ends in less than one week. In two weeks, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski presents his budget to the county council. John Lee of WYPR-FM reports that teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Historic Courthouse in Towson Monday night, calling on the state and the county to come through with money for schools.

BOB BAUMAN REMEMBERS RALPH HOSTETTER: In, the former congressman from the Eastern Shore remembers his long political alliance with newspaper publisher who died last week.

WA CO PUSHES CENSUS: Washington County officials say that for every person not counted in the 2020 census, Washington County could lose thousands of dollars — up to $18,000 in state and federal funding over the next decade for public safety, education or other valuable services, CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.

PRES HOPEFUL NO. 1 JOHN DELANEY SPEAKS: Former three-term Maryland Rep. John Delaney announced his run for the Democratic nomination in July 2017, the earliest of any candidate–a move seen as unusual even as candidates trend toward announcing earlier. Delaney casts himself as a moderate and says if elected he would sign only bipartisan legislation in his first 100 days as president. He sat down last week with Laura Knoy of the Exchange of NHPR in New Hampshire for this hourlong interview.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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