State Roundup, January 8, 2020

FRANCHOT TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR: State Comptroller Peter Franchot announced plans to run for governor on Monday, telling a crowd of supporters in Silver Spring, reports Kate Masters for Bethesda Beat. Political blogger Ryan Miner first reported the news on Twitter, writing that Franchot said he’s “absolutely” running for the office in 2022.

NEW HOUSE, SENATE LEADERS: When Maryland’s state senators and delegates are called to order at noon Wednesday for the start of the 2020 session of the General Assembly, they’ll be looking up at two new presiding officers — the first change in the legislature’s leadership in 16 years. New House Speaker Adrienne Jones and presumptive Senate President Bill Ferguson have been settling in since their surprise ascensions to the top posts while dealing with big changes in their chambers, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.

ADRIENNE JONES: QUIET, NO-NONSENSE: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters profiles House Speaker Adrienne Jones, writing that “Jones, 65, is nothing if not no-nonsense. Yet she’s quiet, reticent, almost shy. In a business of egomaniacs and extroverts, Jones can be reserved almost to a fault. But that doesn’t mean that Jones isn’t engaged. She’s constantly sizing people up — and she isn’t afraid to tell her colleagues when they’ve disappointed her.”

BILL FERGUSON: STABILITY DURING CHANGE: Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters profiles incoming Senate President Bill Ferguson, writing that “even in the organized chaos of a half boxed-up office in the Miller Senate Office Building last week, 36-year-old Baltimore City Sen. Bill Ferguson was focused on a mantra of stability as his transition to Maryland’s first new Senate president in 33 years drew nearer.”

WHO & WHAT TO WATCH IN ANNAPOLIS: We know that two of the “people to watch” in Annapolis this session will be House Speaker Adrienne Jones and presumptive Senate President Bill Ferguson but there is also former Senate President Mike Miller, who will still be wielding the power of his legacy, and a handful of others that Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater name in the Sun.

SIX NEW ASSEMBLY MEMBERS: The General Assembly session opens Wednesday with one new senator and five new delegates serving in the 188-person legislature, writes Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters. The senator is a member of the House who will be sworn in today. The new delegates have been in office anywhere from eight months to one day — but none was serving during the 2019 session. Gaskill offers short profiles of these folks.

HOGAN: CRIME, CORRUPTION TOP PRIORITIES: A day ahead of the start of Maryland’s 441st legislative session, Gov. Larry Hogan claimed overwhelming popular support throughout the state –  and Baltimore in particular – for a series of legislative proposals aimed at reducing violent crime, reports Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter.

HOGAN BRUSHES OFF QUERIES ON REAL ESTATE BIZ: Gov. Larry Hogan declared the General Assembly’s 441st session to be the “Accountability Session.” At the same time, Hogan brushed off questions from reporters and some Democratic lawmakers about his transparency and ethics as he continues to make hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from real estate deals managed by a trust, approved by the State Ethics Commission, and run by his associates, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report. (This apparently was in reference to the lead item in the Jan. 7 Roundup, WHO DOES HOGAN WORK FOR? By Eric Cortellessa of the Washington Monthly.)

HOGAN AIDE HIRED BY TRANSURBAN: Katherine Shaver of the Post follows up on a Maryland Matters article, writing that an aide to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has been hired by Transurban, a company expected to compete for billions of dollars in state contracts to build toll lanes on the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270.

I-270 MONORAIL GAINS SUPPORT: The idea for a monorail system between Frederick and Montgomery counties as part of a plan to relieve congestion on Interstate 270 is gaining momentum, Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News Post reports. Initially seen by some as a curiosity when it was announced in the spring, the proposal is getting a second look as the General Assembly begins its session.

TOP EARNING LOBBYISTS: Ten lobbyists reported client fees of nearly $15 million last year, the Maryland State Ethics Commission reports. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that the combined reported earnings for the top 10 accounted for more than $3 of every $10 reported earned by all Annapolis lobbyists reporting total client payments of at least $50,000. Overall, 174 registered lobbyists reported earning $50,000 or more for the period for a combined total of nearly $49.1 million for the period of Nov. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019, which includes all of the 90-day 2019 General Assembly session.

EDUCATION IS HOWARD DELEGATION FOCUS: As the Maryland General Assembly convenes in Annapolis on Wednesday, a slew of education bills will be at the forefront of the Howard County delegation’s agenda, Jess Nocera of the Howard County Times reports. Of the 15 Howard bills up for debate in the 2020 session, with an additional one in the drafting stages, eight deal with education, according to the delegation’s webpage.

DELEGATES FOCUS ON LANDSDOWNE HIGH REPLACEMENT: With state Democratic leaders raising school construction funding as their priority legislation in 2020, Del. Eric Ebersole of Catonsville says his and his fellow district lawmakers’ primary focus is securing a replacement Lansdowne High School, Taylor DeVille reports in the Catonsville Times.

FREDERICK POLS SPAR OVER ‘NAZI’ COMPARISON: In his Political Notes column, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News Post writes that Frederick County Democrats and Republicans have spent much of the last week sparring over a Facebook post local Democrats made likening Republicans to Nazis. The post stirred an uproar among local Republicans, who deemed the post insensitive and an example of how dangerous rhetoric can hurt local politics.

ECONOMIC SPLIT BETWEEN MD, VA: The disparity between Montgomery County’s dreary White Flint Mall and, across the Potomac, in Virginia’s Arlington County illustrates an imbalance within the Washington region that threatens the area’s overall growth and poses extra risks for the Maryland suburbs, according to local officials, business leaders and economists. Robert McCartney of the Post explains the situation.

VIGNARAJAH HIRES HOGAN ADVISER: Crossing party lines, Baltimore mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah has hired a former top aide to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan as a senior adviser to his campaign, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

INFO BREACH IN B’MORE OFFICE: Two Baltimore employees shared confidential information with a company that could have corrupted the city’s bidding processes, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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