State Roundup, April 11, 2019

Print More

DEL. JONES TO RUN FOR SPEAKER: Del. Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who ran the Maryland House of Delegates floor sessions during the illness of the late Speaker Michael Busch, said Wednesday that she is running for job of speaker. Jones, 64, was a close ally of Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat who died Sunday from pneumonia, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.

CANNABIS LOOPHOLE ‘FIX’ DECRIED: When well-financed, out-of-state cannabis companies figured out a loophole in Maryland’s one-dispensary-per-owner rule, the state’s lawmakers and regulators vowed to stop them with a legislative fix. But they settled on a solution that some find troubling. Instead of writing a stronger law to limit companies to just one cannabis store, the General Assembly passed legislation that will let them have four, Doug Donovan of the Sun reports.

OP-ED: ZIRKIN TO BLAME: In an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital, Andrea Chamblee, the widow of slain journalist John McNamara, opines on the failure of a bill to regulate the sales of long gun in this past General Assembly session, laying the blame at the desk of Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chair. She writes that the bill took more than twice as long in his Senate committee as in the House. On Sine Die, as he had done through every stage of the legislative process this session, Zirkin stalled, delayed, and ran out the clock on this legislation.

APPLICANTS SOUGHT FOR BUSCH’s HOUSE SEAT: The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee is accepting applications to fill the District 30A seat held by late Speaker Michael Busch who died on Sunday, Chase Cook writes in the Annapolis Capital.

‘WINNERS & LOSERS:’ It’s a long leap to get through Maryland Matters’s long list of “Winners and Losers” for this past session. But it leads off naming as a winner Del. Adrienne Jones, who proved herself a worthy contender for speaker during Michael Busch‘s last two weeks.

PG CANDIDATES FUNDING RESTRICTIONS: A state bill that would have removed some fundraising restrictions for Prince George’s County executives died in the General Assembly session that ended this week — blocked by senators from the county who considered it a step backward in terms of good-government reforms, Rachel Chason of the Post reports The bill would have repealed statutes prohibiting developers with pending projects in Prince George’s from donating to county executives running for office or slates including them.

ZERO EMISSIONS SCHOOL BUSES: A bill that passed in the final hours of the state legislature requiring all new Maryland school buses be “zero-emission” vehicles would have cost the Montgomery school system an estimated $84 million, but a last-minute addition of a grant program will offset the expected price tag, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat reports.

HOW WA CO FARED: All in all, Washington County fared relatively well during this year’s General Assembly, local lawmakers say, but some expressed concerns about next year as the legislative session came to a close Monday night, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. “Locally, it was a very positive session for us,” said Del. Paul Corderman, R-Washington. “As the days go by and we’re able to look back on everything that was done … there were some good things that came out of it. There were some other things, also, that, especially in our region, we’re not exactly happy with.”

EDWARDS & BEITZEL ON SESSION: Sen. George Edwards and Del. Wendell Beitzel, who have served a combined 50 years in Annapolis, normally celebrated with lawmakers at the completion of another session of the General Assembly. The 2019 final session concluded Monday. “I’d sum it up as kind of a strange session,” Beitzel, first elected in 2006, said. “There was a cloud hanging over us because of our two leaders.” Senate President Mike Miller is battling stage 4 prostate cancer and Speaker Michael Busch died on Sunday from pneumonia, Greg Larry writes in the Cumberland Times- News.

SON OF BUDGET SECTY BRINKLEY DIES: Hidden among all the remembrances of Speaker Busch on Monday, was this: Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R-Hartford) announced the death of 24-year-old Ross Brinkley, the son of Maryland budget secretary and former state senator David R. Brinkley. Senate President Mike Miller said he watched the younger Brinkley grow up. This was near the bottom of a Post story we referenced two days ago.

HOGAN SAYS TRUMP ORDER THREATENS BAY: President Donald Trump’s support for shifting more power to states on Wednesday faded next to his affinity for oil and gas production, as he aimed to make it harder for states to block pipelines and other energy projects due to environmental concerns, Darlene Superville and Kevin Freking of Associated Press. Gov. Larry Hogan, chairman of the Chesapeake Executive Council, opposed Trump’s decision. “This top-down order threatens to undermine good environmental stewardship,” he said in a news release.

STREAM BUFFER FUNDING LAGS: Israel Creek meanders through rolling pastureland on Steve and Ruth Ann Derrenbacher’s farm in Frederick County. A fence keeps their sheep away from the clear, cold water as it flows toward the Monocacy River. Alder, willow and sycamore saplings in plastic tubes line a portion of the stream. Steve Derrenbacher said they’d like to add more streamside trees and even permanently preserve the entire 148 acres their family has owned since 1942. But the federal program that would pay them to extend the forest buffer is not taking any new applicants right now. Without it, they can’t qualify for a lucrative state conservation easement to preserve the pasture land, the Bay Journal’s Tim Wheeler reports in this article republished in MarylandReporter.com.

MORTALITY TAKES CENTER STAGE: In his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar opines that the fleeting nature of life took center stage at as the General Assembly concluded a mournful and emotionally wrenching 90-day session this week. Mortality was never more present. Lawmakers faced the sudden loss of long-serving House Speaker Michael Busch on the eve of the final legislative day. They also faced the grim reality that record-setting Senate President Mike Miller, battling metastasized pancreatic cancer, almost certainly presided over his last sine die adjournment.

3 PUGH AIDES PUT ON LEAVE: Three City Hall aides to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh have been put on leave, according to a source familiar with the matter.The aides are Gary Brown Jr. and Poetri Deal, who work in the city’s lobbying office, and Afra Vance-White, who is the city’s director of external relations, the source said. Pugh is on an indefinite leave of absence as she recovers from pneumonia, Doug Donovan and Ian Duncan of the Sun report.

FORMER PROSECUTOR TO RUN FOR MAYOR: Thiru Vignarajah, a former prosecutor and top official in the state attorney general’s office, said Wednesday in a statement that he will run as a Democrat to become the next mayor of Baltimore. Vignarajah’s announcement comes at a time of deep political uncertainty in the city, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports.