State Roundup, December 19, 2019

Print More

MARYLAND LAWMAKERS VOTE PARTY LINE ON IMPEACHMENT: Maryland lawmakers in Washington described as “sobering” a historic day that began with a House clerk solemnly reading a resolution urging that “Donald John Trump, president of the United States” be impeached. Jeff Barker of the Sun reports that it ended with all six Democratic members of the state’s U.S. House delegation voting to approve two articles of impeachment — both were approved Wednesday night — after an impassioned debate on the floor. The Maryland delegation’s lone Republican, Rep. Andy Harris, opposed impeachment, calling the proceedings a partisan “sham.”

REP. HOYER’s SPEECH: Sea Collins of Vox writes that Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, ended a long day of debate on impeachment on the House floor with a powerful closing argument. Speaking in a slow, deliberate manner at odds with the at times raucous tone of earlier speakers, the elder statesman refuted the Republican claim that Democrats have been planning to impeach President Donald Trump since even before he was sworn in.

PARTY LINES IN FREDERICK AS WELL: Steve Bohnel and Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post contacted local political leaders on both sides of the aisle for their thoughts on the Trump impeachment. They remained mostly divided on the issue along party lines.

DEL. GLENN RESIGNS: Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report that Del. Cheryl Glenn of Baltimore is resigning from the General Assembly, according to three sources with knowledge of the matter. Glenn submitted her letter of resignation Wednesday to the office of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, according to one of the sources.

FIRM REVERSES, EYES BID FOR ROADS PROJECT: Transurban, the transportation management giant that six months ago said it would take “a pass” on Maryland’s plan to expand two Washington, D.C.-area highways and the American Legion Bridge, now says it is very interested in bidding on the project. Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that Transurban North America President Jennifer Aument said the state’s political leaders have recently demonstrated a welcome flexibility — a willingness to adapt the project to meet community and political concerns.

OPINION: FRANCHOT, SOAP OPERA POPULIST: In a column for Red Maryland, Brian Griffiths calls Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is now opposed to Gov. Hogan’s road widening plan, “a soap opera populist,” who “rails against ‘the machine’ (while) his mantra is ‘for the people.’ However, 70% of the people want the Traffic Relief Program, yet he’s kowtowing to the tiny 14% that represents the machine politics of Montgomery County.”

12 DAYS OF NEWSMATCH: It’s not the 12 days of Christmas, but 12 days until our annual NewsMatch challenge grant expires Dec. 31. Any individual donation up to $1,000 is matched by four national foundations to support nonprofit journalism like MarylandReporter.com. Thanks to our five thousand-dollar donors and to our many small donors as well. We are almost at our goal. Please consider donating today.

OPINION: PROTECT MENHADEN, PROTECT BAY: The editorial board for the Sun supports the actions of Gov. Larry Hogan and eight other governors in urging the Trump administration to take action against a Virginia company that, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, has harvested 30% more Atlantic menhaden from the Chesapeake Bay than allowed under interstate rules. The governors want want a moratorium placed on Omega Protein to protect the fish so their numbers can rebound. The board says it supports “that effort and hopes that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will impose just such relief as soon as possible.

6.7% INCREASE FOR NIH FUNDING: The Bethesda-based National Institutes of Health will receive a $2.6 billion increase as part of a massive year-end funding bill moving through Congress this week to head off a repeat of last year’s federal government shutdown, Louis Peck is reporting in Bethesda Beat. The so-called omnibus appropriations bill, which underwrites government operations through the end of the 2020 fiscal year next Sept. 30, contains $41.7 billion for NIH —  a 6.7% increase from the $39.1 billion the agency received during the prior fiscal year.

CARDIN, VAN HOLLEN PUSH SSA PROGRAM: Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and union officials say they’re urging the Social Security Administration to reconsider the cancellation of a popular telework program for employees of the Woodlawn-based agency, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports.

TRONE TOUTS W. MD BOOST: U.S. Rep. David Trone said the new federal spending package approved this week has provisions designed to help places like Western Maryland, writes Mike Lewis for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. “This is a big deal,” Trone said.

PUGH CHARGED WITH PERJURY AS SENATOR: The state prosecutor announced a criminal charge of perjury against former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, alleging Wednesday she broke the law by failing to disclose her “Healthy Holly” children’s book business on financial disclosure forms during her time as a state senator, Kevin Rector, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.

MORE ‘HEALTHY HOLLY’ FALLOUT: Talia Richman of the Sun reports that Baltimore is accelerating its search for another vendor to help it finance large contracts, part of the widespread fallout of the “Healthy Holly” children’s book scandal that continues to shake up city government.The city has a longstanding financing agreement to help it make expensive purchases — dubbed the “master lease” — with Grant Capital Management, J.P. Grant’s Columbia-based firm. Grant, a well-connected political donor, is among those who together paid former Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh roughly $800,000 for her self-published books.

  • Columbia businessman J.P. Grant earned $537,247 in commissions under a master lease agreement awarded while Catherine Pugh was Baltimore’s mayor, according to information provided to The Brew under a Public Information Act request. Mark Reutter reports that the fees amount to a 358% return on the $150,000 that Grant secretly funneled to Pugh – payments exposed in her plea bargain with federal prosecutors last month.

SPECIAL ED PROBLEMS IN HOWARD: Special education staff in the Howard County school system have sounded the alarm, warning that special educators in public schools are reaching a breaking point because of understaffing and underfunding by the county. At times with tears in their eyes, the special education staff members told member of the Howard County Board of Education at a meeting Nov. 7 that each day they spend most of their time running from one student crisis to the next, Jess Nocera reports for the Howard County Times.