State Roundup, May 23, 2019

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HOGAN CANCELS BILL SIGNING, MAY LET HUNDREDS BECOME LAW: Gov. Larry Hogan canceled his final bill-signing ceremony that was scheduled for Thursday, a sign that he will likely allow hundreds of bills to become law without his signature, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Among the bills awaiting action from the Republican governor are measures that would create a board to monitor prices for prescription drugs that insurance plans for state and local governments pay, ban most foam food and drink containers and dissolve the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board.

HOGAN TO SEEK 100% CLEAN ENERGY BY 2040: Maryland must get 50% of its electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by 2030 under a bill that will become law without Gov. Hogan’s signature, writes Ovetta Wiggins in the Post.

REP. BROWN CRITICIZES HOGAN ROADS PLAN: A day before he holds a transportation town hall meeting with constituents, U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.) expressed concern about Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to widen the Capital Beltway (I-495) and Interstate 270. In a letter to Hogan (R), Brown said the state’s plan relies too much on roads, lacks community support and hasn’t had sufficient environmental review.

OPINION: OYSTERS VS OPENNESS? The editorial board of the Annapolis Capital criticizes a bill to bring together watermen, scientists, policymakers and environmentalists to reach consensus on a plan to save Chesapeake Bay oysters. While the bill’s intent is laudable, it allows the group to conduct its work behind closed doors, skirting the Open Meetings Law. It may save the oyster but the high cost is government transparency.

SPEAKER JONES EYES PROTECTING ABORTION RIGHTS: Maryland’s new House speaker said Thursday she will “most likely” push to protect abortion rights in the state’s constitution next year, as her predecessor sought to do this year, reports Brian Witte of the AP. House Speaker Adrienne Jones said she expects the issue to come back before Maryland lawmakers, especially after Alabama’s governor signed the strictest-in-the-nation abortion ban.

WHITING-TURNER EXECS ON UMMS BOARDS: The University of Maryland Medical System and affiliated hospitals have paid at least $127 million since 2012 to a construction company led by an executive who has been a board member at the health network’s affiliated medical school and flagship hospital, Doug Donovan of the Sun reports.

MD MONITORS N.H. LOTTERY CASE: The attention of lottery directors across the country is turned to a courthouse in New Hampshire, where a federal judge could issue a decision that would have a multi-billion-dollar effect on state budgets, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes. Maryland’s lottery director, Gordon Medenica, said the state is paying close attention to the case.

OPINION: JH HOSPITAL TARGETS POOR: The editorial board of the Sun is criticizing Johns Hopkins Hospital for taking some of its poorest and most vulnerable patients to court over $4.8 million in unpaid medical bills since 2009. The medical institution was first criticized for this practice in 2008 after a Baltimore Sun investigation unveiled the practice, leading to reforms in state regulations. Now a new analysis by the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United and the Coalition for a Humane Hopkins has found the medical system is back to its old ways, targeting people with limited means even more aggressively than in the past.

U.S. HOUSE PANEL HIKES BAY FUNDING: Instead of adopting President Donald Trump’s proposal to all but eliminate the Chesapeake Bay Program, a U.S. House committee voted Wednesday to increase its budget, Scott Dance reports in the Sun. The federal program that guides state-by-state efforts to clean up the Chesapeake would get $85 million in fiscal year 2020, up from its longtime funding level of $73 million. Trump has repeatedly proposed cutting the program’s budget by 90%, if not zeroing it out entirely.

MNUCHIN DELAYS TUBMAN $20: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that a decision by his predecessor, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, to put African American abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill would be delayed and will not happen in 2020, and may not happen until 2028, Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press writes. In 2017, Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Maryland Democrats, pressed Mnuchin to move forward with Lew’s decision.

SECRECY SHROUDED PICK OF NEW BA CO SUPER: The Baltimore County school board kept the name of its new superintendent unusually secret until a quick vote was taken at a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. Even County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. had no idea. He wasn’t alone, write Liz Bowie and Doug Donovan in the Sun. The quick vote with no notice is a sharp break from the typical practice of school districts in the Baltimore area.

MO CO MAY SET UP CIVILIAN POLICE REVIEW BOARD: Legislation that would establish Montgomery County’s first civilian police review commission is expected to be introduced in the County Council this summer, Dan Schere reports in Bethesda Beat. Council President Nancy Navarro said Wednesday that the advisory group’s goal would be to build trust between the police and the public, particularly in the wake of video that surfaced on social media showing a white female police officer using a racial slur in front of two black men who were being questioned about loitering at a White Oak fast-food restaurant.

LOBBYIST TO RUN FOR BOWIE MAYOR: A veteran behind the scenes player in Annapolis and Prince George’s County is envisioning stepping out onto the main political stage. Attorney and lobbyist Leonard L. Lucchi this week filed to become a candidate for mayor of Bowie, his hometown, Josh Kurtz reports in Maryland Matters. Lucchi is running for a seat that will be vacant for the first time since 1998: Mayor Fred Robinson told the Bowie Blade-News Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in November.