30+ BIZ LEADERS URGE SUPPORT FOR KIRWAN: More than 30 business leaders wrote a letter Wednesday to Gov. Larry Hogan and top legislative officials urging support of the Kirwan Commission recommendations to improve public schools, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun. “To succeed in an ever increasingly competitive global economy, our state must have a world-class education system. Sadly, we don’t have that now,” the letter states.
- The move is seen as a counter-argument to Gov. Larry Hogan, who has asserted the Kirwan reforms are unrealistic and will result in massive tax increases, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports. Part of Hogan’s strategy has been to rally opposition from certain business leaders — and he has been raising money for a political action committee in part to fight any legislation that includes tax hikes to pay for Kirwan.
REVENUE PROJECTIONS UP SLIGHTLY: Maryland lawmakers will have a little bit more cash to work with come budget season — but not a whole lot more than previously projected, Danielle Gaines reports in Maryland Matters. The Bureau of Revenue Estimates on Wednesday voted to revise the state’s revenue projections for the current fiscal year up by 0.1%, or a $26.4 million increase to the $18.7 billion total. The board also voted to project an additional $115 million in revenues for the 2021 fiscal year, an increase of 0.6%.
SPEAKER JONES MAKES CHANGES: When Maryland’s House of Delegates turns on its newly installed cameras next year, they’ll only livestream a third of the House’s sessions, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. In a memo House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones sent Wednesday to delegates, she said livestreaming — which has never been done from the chambers of the General Assembly — will be a pilot program for the legislative session that begins Jan. 8.
- She also announced that bathrooms off the lounge behind the House chamber had been converted so that there are now three men’s bathrooms, three women’s bathrooms, and one gender-neutral bathroom. Previously, there had been more men’s bathrooms than women’s, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports.
HOGAN PUSHES PROSECUTION, CRIME LAWS FOR B’MORE: Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he will spend state money to hire more than two dozen prosecutors and staff to help the state attorney general prosecute criminal cases in Baltimore, Pamela Wood of the Sun is reporting. Speaking at his office on the 23rd floor of the William Donald Schaefer Tower in downtown Baltimore, Hogan said the money will allow Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office to prosecute far more gun, drug and gang cases.
- Hogan also said that some of the legislation he will propose when the General Assembly convenes in January is similar to past proposals from the administration, but the 2020 bills would be more comprehensive. An expanded “Violent Firearms Offenders Act” would increase sentences for offenders who commit crimes with guns, require consecutive jail terms for multiple counts and increase sentences for those who steal firearms, possess stolen firearms, or engage in straw purchasing, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.
RX POT PANEL WORKING THROUGH EDIBLES PITFALLS: In the Daily Record’s continuing “report card” series on Maryland’s medical marijuana industry, Bryan Sears writes about the hurdles that the overseeing commission has had to face over the years, from regulating growing methods to sales. It is now dealing with the edibles sector of the industry and how to keep children safe from such products.
SENATE PREZ MILLER OF LIFE, AFTERLIFE: In an interview with Vic Carter of WJZ-TV, state Senate President Mike Miller reflects on his life and the afterlife. Thirty-two years, thousands of pieces of legislation: Miller has been a fixture in the Maryland State House since becoming Senate president in 1987.
CITY AUDIT FINDS 911 GRANTS WENT TO POLICE: An audit of the Baltimore City Office of Information and Technology’s finances found $12 million in 911 call center grants was sent to the Baltimore Police Department — even though police were no longer responsible for those operations at that point, Jessica Iannetta of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. The audit found that about $12 million in expenses was correctly charged to BCIT from fiscal years 2014 to 2016. However, the state of Maryland submitted the grant money to the police department, which never remitted the money to BCIT.
OPINION: GIFT OF PAID LEAVE: The editorial board for the Sun opines that given all the drama taking place inside the Capital Beltway this holiday season, it would have been foolish for government workers to expect a little something extra under the Christmas tree this year from Uncle Sam. But, lo and behold, a miracle: Through the most unlikely of circumstances — a backroom negotiation between Congress and the White House that literally stretched into outer space — tens of thousands of Marylanders are poised to receive the unexpected, yet well-deserved gift of 12 weeks of paid family leave.
CARROLL GOP GETS VIP TRUMP TREATMENT: On Tuesday evening, almost three dozen Carroll countians who had ridden a bus to Hershey, Penn., attended a Trump rally to show the president their support. Bob Blubaugh reports for the Carroll County Times that a few received quite a bonus — after waiting in line and finally getting inside the Giant Center, they were randomly chosen to receive seat upgrades, T-shirts, hats and food. One was Chris Tomlinson, a Carroll County Times columnist and Carroll County Republican Central Committee member.
CARROLL OVERDOSES SPIKE IN NOVEMBER: Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports that the month of November saw a spike in the number of drug and alcohol overdoses in Carroll County, including nine deaths — the most overdose fatalities in a month in 2019 so far. The total number of overdoses in November — 43, which includes nonfatal overdoses — represents an increase over the 33 total overdoses in October, as well as the 30 total overdoses seen in November 2018.
WA CO SYPHILIS CASES TIED TO OPIOID CRISIS: In Washington County, an increasing number of syphilis cases have been reported, a trend that appears to be related to the opioid epidemic, the county’s deputy health officer said. Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that Dr. Diana Gaviria said 58 cases of early syphilis have been reported in the county through October. That compares to 28 cases during the same stretch last year when those numbers started going up.
REPORT: FUND HOUSING ALONG PURPLE LINE: To preserve affordable housing along the Purple Line Corridor, a new report recommends that Montgomery County invest $100 million in its Housing Initiative Fund — a reserve dedicated to below-market housing projects. The new plan, released Thursday by the Purple Line Corridor Coalition, underscores the difficulties of preserving affordable housing along the light-rail route, Kate Masters of Bethesda Beat.
DIXON TO ANNOUNCE RUN FOR MAYOR: Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon plans to make an announcement this weekend concerning the mayoral race, James Whitlow of Baltimore Brew reports. The announcement is scheduled to take place Saturday at a clothing drive in West Baltimore that includes coffee and cocoa. A flier posted to the former mayor’s Facebook page recommends attendees bring hats, gloves, scarves and socks to donate.
CUMMINGS HAD PUSHED COAST GUARD PROBE: The U.S. Coast Guard’s leadership has failed to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations of harassment and bullying allegations, according to a congressional investigation released Wednesday. Jennifer McDermott of the AP reports that the investigation was launched by three congressmen, including the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat who worked on Coast Guard diversity issues throughout his career and was chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
BUTTIGIEG IN BALTIMORE: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will come to Baltimore on Thursday for a fundraiser co-hosted by state Dels. Maggie McIntosh and Luke Clippinger, and others. The candidate’s supporters say the reception will showcase Buttigieg’s early Maryland support, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun.
JUDGE ASSAULTED IN COURT: Chief Baltimore Circuit Judge Wanda Heard received medical attention Wednesday after a defendant threw a metal water pitcher at her as she presided over his sentencing hearing in a downtown courtroom, striking her “somewhere around the middle of her forehead,” Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.