State Roundup, December 31, 2019

DEL. SYDNOR APPOINTED SENATOR: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday appointed Democratic Del. Charles Sydnor to become a state senator representing western parts of Baltimore County and of the city of Baltimore. Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun. Sydnor, 45, of Catonsville, will finish the term of Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who resigned recently due to health reasons. He serves on the Judiciary Committee and will serve on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Hogan chose Sydnor over Del. Keith Haynes who was also nominated Also on Monday, Hogan appointed Republican Mike Griffith to the House to fill a seat representing Harford and Cecil counties. Griffith will replace Republican Del. Andrew Cassilly, who stepped down to work as a senior adviser to Hogan.

ACHIEVEMENT GAP PERSISTS IN MONTGOMERY: Despite attempts by Maryland’s largest school system to close achievement gaps between black and Latino children and their white and Asian peers, those differences have barely budged in recent years, a new report finds, according to Lauren Lumpkin in the Washington Post. Montgomery County is one of the state’s most diverse districts, with more than half of its students identifying as black or Latino and nearly 30,000 children who are learning English. But those same students are concentrated in schools with large populations of children from impoverished families, according to the report from the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight, which monitors local government-funded activities. The school district has made scant progress since 2015 in ensuring equitable access to resources, officials say.

PAY HIKE SOUGHT FOR MoCo SCHOOL BOARD: A commission formed to explore a pay increase for school board members in Montgomery County is recommending their pay more than double, the Post’s Joe Heim and Donna St. George report. The Board of Education Compensation Commission urged this month that the pay for elected school board members be raised to $60,000 annually and that the president of the board get a boost to $70,000. Currently, board members receive $25,000, and the president earns $29,000.

CUMMINGS FUNDS TO CHARITY: The late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore left $1 million in unspent campaign funds, according to election records. The Sun’s Jeff Barker reports that Cummings expressed that he wanted the unspent funds donated to youth programs, such as those helping needy students pay for college, campaign treasurer Ronald Thompson said in an email.

FREDRICK DELEGATION BILLS: Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports on bills pre-filed by Frederick County legislators. They include a bill by Sen. Ron Young would set up an assault weapons buy-back fund – but only for willing sellers of the firearms. Young also has a bill to increase taxes on big corporations through the combined reporting method he and others have introduced before.

PLASTIC BAG BAN PROPOSED: A Capital News Service story by Ian Round and Elliott Davis reports that when the Maryland legislature reconvenes in January, legislators of both parties say they will continue the battle against climate change. Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore, said she will sponsor a plastic bag ban in the next session and ask for a study of other single-use plastics, such as food utensils and water bottles. Lierman said Marylanders can unlearn their dependence on plastic.

SLOW MO ON WEED: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports on the slow movement of the Maryland General Assembly on legalization of recreational marijuana, which some legislators predict will happen but not next year

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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