WHO DOES HOGAN WORK FOR? Eric Cortellessa of the Washington Monthly writes that despite Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s opposition to President Donald Trump over many issues, the two actually have much in common. “Both are real-estate executives who have refused to relinquish their private businesses while in office. Just as Trump maintained his ownership of the Trump Organization when he became president, Hogan maintained ownership of HOGAN, a multipurpose real-estate brokerage firm, when he became governor. Both have left close family members in charge of their businesses … and created arrangements that allow them to be apprised of the company’s dealings. In other words, they have set up situations in which they can use their powerful government positions to increase their private profits.”
ANALYSIS: ROAD TO COMPROMISES: Reporter Bruce DePuyt takes the long view of Gov. Hogan’s road widening plan and the changes it has gone through in this analysis for Maryland Matters. DePuyt writes that observers “say sustained opposition all but forced the state to backtrack. While Hogan and his team rarely missed an opportunity to tout public opinion polls that showed support for road-widening in the capital region, the massive crowds of regular people — not just the activist class — proved to be a counter-weight that he couldn’t shake.”
HOGAN AIDE JOINS HIGHWAY FIRM: Amanda Allen, an original member of the Hogan administration, is leaving her state government post this week to take a position with Transurban, the transportation behemoth that recently signaled a renewed interest in a lucrative Maryland highway project, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. Allen will become Maryland Government Affairs Manager for Transurban starting next week, a company spokesperson confirmed.
OPINION: TRANSPORTATION FOR ALL: In an op-ed for the Sun, Don Fry of the Greater Baltimore Committee opines that what happens on transportation issues during this General Assembly session could affect Marylanders — and more importantly the Baltimore region — for decades. “Ensuring that residents and businesses have access to efficient and connected transportation networks is of paramount importance for the Baltimore area, which has experienced significant disinvestment in recent years under the current administration, as transportation dollars have flowed disproportionately to the Washington suburbs.”
KIRWAN AT TOP OF SESSION LIST: When the General Assembly convenes for its 441st session on Wednesday, one subject is poised to overshadow almost everything else: a proposal to overhaul public education in Maryland. Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports that Democratic leaders in the state Senate and House of Delegates say they are confident the legislature will pass the sweeping education reforms recommended by what is known as the Kirwan Commission, and they say they won’t raise taxes to pay for the plan.
- Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters offers a quick look at 10 issues that are likely to dominate the agenda for the 2020 session, kicking off of course with Kirwan.
NEW LEADERS, MORE UNCERTAINTY: As Maryland’s lawmakers return to Annapolis on Wednesday for their annual 90-day legislative session, they will greet new presiding officers for the first time in 17 years. Like their predecessors, they are Democrats. But the new leaders bring a different tone, the prospect for more liberal-leaning policies and an undercurrent of uncertainty, Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins report for the Post.
STATE DRUG BOARD KICKS OFF: Bipartisanship was on full display Monday as Maryland elected officials and health-care advocates came together to kick off the first public discussion forum on a state prescription drug board that will have the power to set upper payment limits for high-priced prescription drugs purchased or paid for by state and local governments, Bryan Renbaum reports for MarylandReporter.
- Van Mitchell, the leader of Maryland’s effort to force reductions in the cost of prescription drugs, expressed cautious optimism on Monday that a new state panel will be able to deliver relief to consumers — but he cautioned that results are not foreordained, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.
OPINION: BAN ON HAIR BIAS LONG OVERDUE: Calling them “long overdue,” the editorial board for the Sun praises the Baltimore City Council and a Maryland lawmaker for legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their natural hairstyles. “People should be judged on the how they do their jobs and not whether their hair is in a structured bone-straight bob or a fluffy, close-cropped afro,” the board writes.
BAY BRIDGE TO END CASH TOLLS: Maryland plans to end the cash option for tolls on the Bay Bridge this year, a move that will bring the state closer to going completely electronic throughout its toll system, Luz Lazo of the Post is reporting.
POLL: HOGAN REMAINS POPULAR: Gov. Larry Hogan remains widely popular among Maryland voters, while President Donald Trump is still unpopular, according to a new poll, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun.
- Statewide, 31% of those surveyed say that crime tops education, transportation, corruption and the economy as the top issue, outpacing education by a nearly 2-1 margin. The answer was based on an open-ended question that didn’t include prompts on specific issues from interviewers, Bryan Sears writes in the Daily Record.
- Seventy-five percent of voters surveyed said they approve of the job that Hogan is doing, while only 17% disapprove, Bruce DePuyt and Josh Kurtz write for Maryland Matters.
OPINION: BAY CAN’T RELY ON TRUMP EPA: The editorial board for the Sun opines that the Trump administration has never been a fan of EPA enforcement of most any kind. And the Chesapeake Bay program is no different. … President Trump is wedded to the conservative orthodoxy of deregulation so the bay program has long been a bad fit. Never mind that the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is widely viewed as one of the most effective programs of its kind in the country.
DEL. KORMAN TALKS ANNAPOLIS: Ryan Miner of a Miner Detail Podcast interviews Del. Marc Korman (D-Bethesda), who previews the upcoming legislative session, including Kirwan funding, Gov. Hogan’s traffic relief plan, sports betting, vaping, leadership changes and more.
MODEST GROWTH IN CASINO TAKE: Maryland’s casino industry reported more modest growth last month after slumps in September and October, Amanda Yeager of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. The state’s six casinos generated $149.1 million in December, a 0.5% increase compared with December 2018. November also brought slight year-over-year growth, with another 0.5% boost.
ARUNDEL OPIOID OD’s DOWN: Preliminary data shows Anne Arundel County saw a reduction in opioid-related overdoses in every month but one in 2019 compared to the year before, a trend that aligns with statewide data and offers a promising sign that efforts to combat the opioid epidemic are working, Brooks Dubose reports in the Capital Gazette.
EX-TREASURY OFFICIAL RUNS FOR B’MORE MAYOR: Mary Miller, a former T. Rowe Price executive and U.S. Treasury official, is entering the Baltimore mayor’s race, arguing she has the management experience and financial expertise to grow the local economy and spark a turnaround in a city gripped by crime and poverty, Luke Broadwater and Talia Richman report for the Sun.
FREDERICK PANEL FORMED OVER CLIMATE CRISIS: After several months of preparation, two Frederick County Council members are close to completing a proposed resolution declaring a “climate emergency.” The members have jointly worked on a draft of that resolution, which attempts to “establish an ad hoc Climate Emergency Mobilization Workgroup,” among other initiatives. The group would consist of interested members of the local scientific and environmental community, along with county officials who would meet for a year before making recommendations to council members, Steve Bohnel reports in the Frederick News-Post.