HOGAN ROAD PLAN OK’d WITH CHANGES: Maryland’s Board of Public Works approved the state’s use of private companies to widen highways in the Washington suburbs, but agreed to delay work on the Capital Beltway after running into opposition, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun.
- In a change to Hogan’s initial proposal, the I-270 lanes will be built first. Adding toll lanes to the American Legion Bridge and Interstate 495 in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which has been more controversial, will be phases 2 and 3, the Post’s Katherine Shaver reports.
- Wednesday’s vote means that companies will be able to begin submitting bids on the I-270 portion of the project. The board also voted to allocate 10% of toll revenue toward exploring public transit options, and agreed to conduct a feasibility study of a monorail linking Shady Grove and Frederick. Treasurer Nancy Kopp was the “no” vote on the proposal, Dan Schere reports for Bethesda Beat.
- The three-hour meeting of the BPW featured testimony from more than three dozen opponents and supporters of Gov. Hogan’s plan to ease congestion on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 and ended in a surprise compromise that reorders the three phases of the overall project, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- Bowing to public criticism, particularly among Montgomery County elected officials and civic activists, Hogan said he would “regrettably” flip the order of the three phases of the proposed highway expansion, Josh Kurtz reports for Maryland Matters.
- Comptroller Peter Franchot offered four additional amendments, including one that would block the state from using eminent domain to force-purchase any homes or other properties without final approval of any “P3” contracts by the BPW. Another would guarantee transit vehicles toll-free access to any new express lanes. A third requires the state to give 10% of its share of express lane toll proceeds to Montgomery and Prince George’s for regional transit improvements, Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters.
BPW DELAYS ALABAMA CONTRACT: The Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to delay awarding $625,000 to a Alabama-based company after Comptroller Peter Franchot called for a boycott of the state over its new strict abortion law, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting.
STATE EXTENDS REAL ID DEADLINE: The Post’s Luz Lazo reports that Maryland is extending the June deadlines for 43,000 drivers who have been told they need to visit the Motor Vehicle Administration and file documentation to ensure their licenses are Real ID compliant. Those drivers now have until July 3 to file the required paperwork at their local MVA or risk having their license recalled, officials said.
KIRWAN FUNDING WORK GROUP NAMED: A core group of 13 people will meet over the next several months to recommend new state funding formulas for K-12 public schools, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters. Senate President Mike Miller (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Adrienne. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced the 13-member Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Workgroup on Wednesday.
STATE RETIREES SEEK CLASS ACTION SUIT OVER DRUG BENEFITS: More than 1,000 state retirees are seeking to be recognized as a class in a lawsuit against the state of Maryland over lost prescription drug benefits – and another 1,000 filings are on their way, Danielle Gaines reports for Maryland Matters.
72 LAWMAKERS ASK HOGAN TO FREE BSO FUNDS: More than 70 Democratic lawmakers – 18 senators and 54 delegates – on Wednesday sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan calling on him to release $1.6 million in funding they set aside through legislation for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra., Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.
- The news that the BSO was cutting its season from 52 weeks to 40 and musicians’ pay by roughly 20% left 75 people with mortgages, college tuition payments and medical bills scrambling to figure out how to make ends meet, Mary Carole McCauley reports in the Sun. The announcement came a week after a bill became law that appeared to resolve the crisis by providing the organization with $3.2 million in additional state funding over the next two years.
- Amanda Yeager of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that, in their letter, the lawmakers wrote that they are concerned the cutbacks “may have an irreversible impact on the quality of this world-class orchestra and will unfairly impact the BSO musicians and their families.”
SMALLER CLASS SIZES WORK: In an opinion piece for MarylandReporter.com, Prince George’s County teacher Mark Naydan writes: “Larger classroom sizes are not only more difficult for teachers to manage but they also have been proven to make it more difficult for students to learn. Recently, when U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos advocated for super-sizing classroom sizes, teachers like me were outraged. It’s clear Secretary DeVos has NEVER worked with students in a classroom before. Otherwise, she would not have said that.”
CONGRESSMEN QUESTION CDC PROTOCOL: U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen are concerned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s adenovirus outbreak protocol didn’t do enough to protect University of Maryland student Olivia Paregol, who died in November after contracting the disease, writes Christine Condon for the Sun.
OPINION: HOGAN’s NEXT MOVES: The editorial board for the Sun opines that it was a smart move for Gov. Hogan to bow out of the race for the presidency. “Mr. Hogan says he wants to stay involved in national Republican politics with a new organization focused on reducing the partisan divide in the country, and we think he has real potential there. To be successful, he needs to do more than champion civility in politics; he needs to move the national conversation toward areas where Republicans and Democrats can compromise for the good of the country.”
CASINOS UPS & DOWNS: Although 2019 started out on a good note, Horseshoe Casino once again saw its year-over-year revenue slide, Brandon Weigel of Baltimore Fish Bowl reports. Overall revenue at the six casinos in Maryland was down 2.7%, or about $4.3 million, from May of last year. MGM National Harbor was once again leading the charge, taking in $59.1 million (a year-over-year decline of 5.1%), followed by Live! Casino and Hotel, which collected $53.5 million (a year-over-year increase of 2.8%).