State Roundup January 10, 2020

“ROME IS BURNING” BALTIMORE’S CRIME PROBLEM: Baltimore’s high violent crime rate received early attention in the state’s legislative session on Thursday, as Maryland’s former Senate president urged lawmakers to act “while Rome is burning,” reports Brian Witte for the AP. Sen. Mike Miller decided to highlight the problem in Maryland’s largest city after reading about former deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s reflections on fighting crime in the city when he was Maryland’s U.S. attorney.

  • On his first full day as a common legislator, Miller emphasized the need to address violent crime in Baltimore City and in the process touched off a conversation that attracted bipartisan enthusiasm, reports Bryan Renbaum for
  • The comments were classic Miller and mirrored some criticisms he has leveled from the rostrum during his past three decades as Senate president, reports Bryan Sears for The Daily Record. But Miller’s remarks also signal that he may have a hard time fading into the Senate background.
  • The Calvert County Democrat opined for more than 10 minutes Thursday on everything from Baltimore’s crime problem to how his fellow senators should carry out their duties, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.
  • Never mind that new Senate President Bill Ferguson and others who represent the city have said their top priority is a statewide overhaul of public schools, noting that the city’s senators have been working on Baltimore crime issue for years, notes Erin Cox in the Post.
  • Miller also spoke frequently during bill hearings in his new committee, Budget and Taxation, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. A political expert says Miller’s outsized presence could overshadow other senators, but Miller understands the chain of command. Miller is serving gentle notice that “I’m not going to just disappear quietly into the background,” the political science professor continued.

FRANCHOT CONFIRMS GUBERNATORIAL BID: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot confirmed Thursday that he is running for governor in 2022, reports Brian Witte for the AP. Franchot has run in the past as a political outsider, and he has spent much of his time as comptroller at odds with leaders in his own party.

  • Franchot is the first to publicly announce a run for governor. Incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan is term-limited, reports WBAL NewsRadio who had Franchot on with Bryan Nehman Thursday. Political blogger Ryan Miner first reported Franchot’s announcement on Twitter.
  • The Democratic comptroller spent much of the day doing media interviews confirming his intention to seek the state’s highest office, after he told a crowd at a fundraising event earlier in the week that he intended to run, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.
  • It was not an announcement. WBAL-TV 11 News had to ask this way: “Are you 100 percent a 2022 candidate for governor of Maryland?” “Yes, I’m delighted to say I am running. I intend to win, but everybody says that,” Franchot said.

IRAN RESOLUTION PASSES HOUSE: All but one of Maryland’s congressional representatives voted to approve the resolution restricting President Donald Trump’s response to hostility in Iran, reports WJZ. Sen. Andy Harris, the state’s lone Republican, blasted the resolution as “purely political.” In a statement, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat who voted yea, said the U.S. is “closer to war with Iran than we have been since 1988.”

  • Harris’ statement is printed in The (Harford County) Dagger.
  • U.S. Rep Anthony Brown, D-Md., vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee and a 30-year combat veteran, denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to engage Iran in a potentially major military conflict with fatal drone strikes, reports Mark Gray for the AFRO. Brown said it “left us with little hope of reducing tensions or deterring Iranian aggression let alone their nuclear program.”
  • In Baltimore, about 30 people gathered Thursday during afternoon rush hour to protest the rising tensions between the United States and Iran, reports McKenna Oxenden for the Sun.

NEW TAX PROPOSED FOR EDUCATION FUNDING: Maryland’s Senate presidents past and present are looking to bolster state coffers and pay for a historic expansion of education funding with a new tax aimed at online advertisers, reports Bryan Sears for The Daily Record.

OPINION: HOSPITAL STRUCTURE CREATES MODEL CONDITIONS: Thanks to the future-minded hospital policies put in place several years ago, Maryland has a model of a health care system that aims to control costs and improve quality on a large scale, opines Bob Atlas, president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association in Maryland Matters. Maryland has a special contract with the federal government that lets us operate a one-of-a-kind system in which all insurers pay equitably for hospital care.

LAW ENFORCEMENT RETIREMENT TAX BREAK: Gov. Larry Hogan marked National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day by announcing that he is introducing legislation to provide tax relief for police, firefighters, and first responders, and urging lawmakers to pass his crime plan, reports Tiffany Watson for WBFF. The legislation would exempt law enforcement, fire, rescue, corrections and emergency response personnel from state tax on all retirement income specific to their service in those professions.

MORGAN EXPLORING MEDICAL SCHOOL: Morgan State University is is looking to bring a medical school to its Baltimore campus through a new partnership to train more primary care physicians in the U.S., reports Morgan Eichensehr for the Baltimore Business Journal.

  • The move would create the first such program at a historically black college in more than four decades, reports Tim Curtis for The Daily Record. The school’s president is authorized to pursue affiliation with Salud Education LLC, which would bring a college of osteopathic medicine to the northeast Baltimore college.

YOUTH FUND SCRUTINIZED: Baltimore elected officials say they are concerned about the management of a multimillion-dollar fund earmarked for local youth organizations, reports Talia Richman for the Sun.

BPW CONTRACT DISPUTE: While lawmakers were making history on the first floor of the Maryland State House Wednesday, an ugly contract fight with potential legal implications for the state was unfolding one floor above. After debate, the board approved a proposed 10-year lease to keep the Maryland Insurance Administration at its current headquarters in downtown Baltimore.

EASTERN SHORE LAWMAKERS READY FOR 2020 SESSION, KIRWAN DEBATES: Eastern Shore Delegation members seem to be united in their stance on recommendations made by the Kirwan Commission, Liz Holland reports in a legislative preview for The Salisbury Independent. The lawmakers agree that changes to Maryland’s education system need to be made, but they don’t want to raise taxes to cover the $3.8 billion price tag. They also will tackle rural broadband and Salisbury liquor licensing.

LAWMAKERS ON HAGERSTOWN HOUSING PROJECT: Washington County legislators are weighing in on a proposed housing project off Marshall Street in Hagerstown, sending a letter to the state Department of Housing and Community Development suggesting a different jurisdiction might be a better fit, reports Dave McMillion for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The firm building the development, PB Hagerstown Owner LLC, has applied to the state for low-income housing tax credits to help develop the project.

CARROLL DELEGATION TO MEET: The Carroll County delegation will meet next week to consider local issues such as funding for the agricultural center, alcohol closing times in the county and bid limits for the county, reports the Carroll County Times reports.

CECIL DELEGATES GETTING TO WORK: For Del. Mike Griffith the start of the General Assembly session marked a seismic shift, reports Katie Tabeling for the Cecil Whig. He was sworn in Tuesday afternoon, one month after he was appointed to replace Andrew Cassilly. “It’s really exciting,” Griffith said. “Certainly being here was something I never even thought was possible.”

JUDGE RULES AGAINST TENANTS ON KUSHNER SUIT: A Baltimore judge ruled against five area tenants who had brought a lawsuit claiming an apartment company owned by White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner had engaged in unlawful rental practices, including charging improper fees and threatening evictions to force payment, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun. A separate consumer protection lawsuit from the Maryland Attorney General is still pending.

BROWN ENDORSES BUTTIGIEG: U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown announced Thursday that he is endorsing Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 election, reports Lillian Reed for the Sun. Brown, a Democrat and the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, will become the Buttigieg campaign’s first national co-chair.

HARRIS CHALLENGER ANNOUNCES: The lone Republican-controlled congressional seat in Maryland will be contested this fall, reports Steve Bohnel for The Frederick News-Post. Mia Mason, a registered Democrat who served in the U.S. military for more than 15 years, is running for the 1st Congressional District seat, which has been held by Harris, a Republican, since 2011.

MVA: WORKING ON REAL ID: Nine months might seem far off, but Maryland is making adjustments now to help everyone get a REAL ID-compliant license by the October deadline, reports Kristi King for WTOP.

STATE TOURISM OFFICIAL IN GARRETT: Garrett County is “the gem of Western Maryland,” and more CEOs should visit the area and learn of its valuable resources, a state tourism official told The Greater Cumberland Committee, reports Teresa McMinn for the Cumberland Times-News.

About The Author

Meg Tully

Contributing Editor Meg Tully has been covering Maryland politics for more than five years. She has worked for The Frederick News-Post, where she reported during the General Assembly session in Annapolis. She has also worked for The (Hanover) Evening Sun and interned at Baltimore Magazine. Meg has won awards from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association for her state and county writing, and a Keystone Press Award for feature writing from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you have additional questions or comments contact Meg at:

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