RX POT BRINGS IN $10M IN TAX REVENUE: Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter reports that medical marijuana produced more than $10 million in tax revenue for Maryland in FY 2019 – exceeding the amount of money the industry brought to state coffers during the previous two fiscal years combined, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.
S. MD TO PUSH FOR COMMUTER RAIL: Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that state lawmakers and local officials from Southern Maryland served notice on Thursday that they intend to launch a full court press to bring commuter rail to Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties — even if it means raiding transportation funds already earmarked for projects in other parts of the state. The officials were led by Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles), who has introduced legislation that would provide $27 million to jump-start light rail service along the MD Route 5 corridor.
OPINION: YES TO MONORAIL: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post gives a thumbs up to the idea of a monorail along the I-270 corridor, despite the $3.4 billion price tag.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY BILL COULD FALL SHORT AGAIN: When advocates of “death with dignity” legislation descend on Annapolis later this month, it will be the sixth year running that they have attempted to persuade the General Assembly to pass legislation giving terminally ill people the right to end their lives. Although they came tantalizingly close last year — a 74-66 victory in the House of Delegates and the narrowest possible defeat, on a tie vote, in the Senate — they head into the 2020 session facing the distinct possibility they will fall a vote or two short again this year, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. The uncertainty centers, again, on the Senate.
OPINION: MILLER COMES AROUND ON B’MORE AID: The editorial board for the Sun opines that last Thursday, former Senate President Mike Miller “rose from the floor to give a ‘Rome is burning’ speech in which he acknowledged that Baltimore is ‘crying out for help’ and that lawmakers ought to make the city the focus of their attention. This was surprising on at least two levels. First, it’s never been clear that the Southern Maryland lawmaker has ever been especially attuned to Baltimore during his historic 33 years leading the chamber, while his successor, Sen. Bill Ferguson, actually represents the city. The second is that, well, it’s about time.”
TAX PROPOSED FOR DIGITAL ADS: Maryland lawmakers will consider adding a tax on digital advertising to raise money to pay for extensive and expensive education reforms. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that the tax, as proposed, would apply to businesses that make money from digital advertising. The rate would range from 2.5% to 10%, based on the total amount of digital advertising revenue.
- In what appears to be first-in-the-nation legislation, social media companies such as Facebook and Google would face as much as a 10% tax on the revenue from digital ads that target Maryland IP addresses, Erin Cox of the Post reports.
LITTLE CONFIDENCE IN ADDRESSING BIAS: A first-of-its kind workplace climate survey in Maryland’s legislature found a high level of awareness about policies regarding harassment and discrimination and how to report it, but less confidence in how complaints are resolved and whether they result in fair outcomes, Brian Witte of the AP is reporting.
- Six people, including four lawmakers, were accused of workplace violations such as sexual harassment or racial discrimination over the last year, according to a new report sent to the General Assembly Friday. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that more than 80% of participants in a workplace study conducted by the Department of Legislative Services said they had heard or witnessed harassment or discrimination. But 70% of those surveyed said they either didn’t know or didn’t believe that such complaints were resolved fairly or quickly.
2 GOT ¼ OF MD TAX ABATEMENTS IN 2019: Just two tax abatements, one for a Netflix production and one for a massive defense contractor, accounted for more than a quarter of the tax credits administered by Maryland in fiscal year 2019, according to the state’s recently released Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, reports Michael Neibauer for the Washington Business Journal.
NEW DELEGATION HEADS IN B’MORE, PG: Democratic Del. Stephanie Smith, a freshman lawmaker from East Baltimore, was elected Friday to lead the city’s 18-member House delegation, replacing former chairwoman Cheryl Glenn, who resigned from the House amid corruption charges, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun. Smith, a lawyer, is an assistant director in the Baltimore City Department of Planning who works on racial equity issues.
- Meanwhile in Prince George’s County, reports Hannah Gaskell for Maryland Matters, its House delegation elected Del. Erek L. Barron (D) chairman to replace the outgoing chairman, Del. Michael Jackson (D). Barron defeated Del. Marvin Holmes (D), who also sought the post, by a 12-9 vote. Del. Julian Ivey (D) was unanimously elected vice chair.
ADJUSTMENTS TO KIRWAN FORMULA? Top legislative leaders have committed to reviewing the proposed Kirwan education funding formula to see if the burden on Prince George’s County and Baltimore City — and others — can be eased, Danielle Gaines reports for Maryland Matters. “The last thing that we want is to have those two jurisdictions’ kids cheated,” said House Appropriations chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore City). Legislative analysts are working to come up with proposed solutions, which McIntosh said are expected to resolve the concerns.
- Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) has consistently said that improving county public schools is her top priority. But she says the county cannot afford to fund education reforms proposed by the statewide Kirwan Commission, and on Friday, she met with state lawmakers from the county, imploring them to work with officials in her administration to lower the local share of the eventual $4 billion-a-year overhaul that Prince George’s is expected to pay, Rachel Chason of the Post is reporting.
ARUNDEL MAY ADD CAMERAS TO SCHOOL BUSES: A Maryland law that allows school districts to install bus cameras to capture drivers illegally passing a stopped bus could soon be enforced in Anne Arundel County, Naomi Harris of the Capital Gazette reports. The law could hold people accountable, said Stefanie Johnson, a mother of a Severna Park High student who was hit by a driver after getting off the school bus.
EXPANSION OF EGG LAW PROPOSED: A newly proposed bill would require eggs from turkeys, ducks and pheasants to adhere to the state’s egg laws, expanding it from just chickens. Hannah Himes of the Frederick News Post reports that other proposed changes to the law, which was introduced in the General Assembly this week, include requiring that shell eggs produced by poultry other than chickens be sold by net quantity, such as by the dozen, rather than by weight. It also authorizes the secretary of agriculture to conduct examinations, tests and sampling for compliance and specifies what makes an egg spoiled.
GOP ATTENDS RED MARYLAND CONFERENCE: Rebecca Tan of the Post reports that Maryland’s strong Democratic majority seemed far away over the weekend inside a conference room not far from the State House, where Republicans discussed their priorities for 2020. During speeches Saturday by elected GOP officials and party leaders, attendees booed the costly education overhaul proposal being championed by the deep-blue General Assembly, cheered raucously for President Trump and poked fun at Democratic presidential candidates.
OPINION: HOGAN POPULARITY DOESN’T TRANSLATE: In a column for Maryland Matters, Frank DeFilippo writes that Gov. Larry Hogan is a victim of his own popularity. He’s unable to translate his poll-tested high standing with the voting public into bending the heavily Democratic General Assembly his way. To try and resolve the dichotomy between personal likability and spaces left blank on his wish list, Hogan is outsourcing the paradox of arguably the most popular governor in America to fundraisers.
PUSH FOR EPA ACCOUNTABILITY OVER BAY CLEANUP: Six U.S. senators and more than a dozen members of Congress are demanding the Environmental Protection Agency take “immediate steps” to show the agency will hold states accountable to a Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, and gave it two weeks to answer questions about whether the Trump administration is “backing away from its statutory obligations” to see that the bay’s health is restored, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.
ETHICS REFORM IN D.C. AREA: Government ethics reform is on the table throughout the Washington region – in D.C., Maryland and Virginia – and much of it is overdue, writes Robert McCartney for the Post. Ethical violations by longtime D.C. council member Jack Evans exposed holes in the oversight practices that are supposed to prevent conflicts of interest. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is pushing to toughen penalties for corruption after federal prosecutors last year nabbed two former state legislators and the former Baltimore mayor for wrongdoing. In Virginia, legislators are pushing to ban Dominion Energy from making campaign contributions after the electric utility reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in excess profits following a 2015 regulatory overhaul.
FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAM FOR ADDICTION TREATMENT: Maryland U.S. Rep. David Trone, D-6th, and his colleagues are pursuing the creation of a $25 million grant program that would help local and national nonprofits provide family support services for addiction treatment, Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports. Trone and Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., introduced a bill last week for the Family Support Services for Addiction Act. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are sponsoring the act in the Senate. The proposed legislation is bipartisan, and so is addiction, Trone said.
12 DEMS SEEK CUMMINGS’ SEAT: Just weeks before a special election primary in the 7th Congressional District, voters heard from a dozen candidates vying to replace the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and offering blueprints on everything from reducing crime and controlling health care costs to addressing climate change. Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports that the candidates, all Democrats, offered similar views Saturday on some priorities and issues. They also agreed on a desire to not only return a Democrat to the White House but to retain one in the 7th District.
GOP’s KLACIK ON RUN FOR CUMMINGS’ SEAT: Republican congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik joins Ryan Miner on a Miner Detail Podcast to discuss her bid to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. Klacik’s criticism of Baltimore City and Cummings last summer was picked up by President Donald Trump.
BEN JEALOUS BACKS CARTER FOR CUMMINGS’ SEAT: Few big names in Maryland politics have made endorsements in the crowded Democratic primary race to succeed the late congressman Elijah E. Cummings, a contest that includes some of the late congressman’s closest confidantes. That changed Saturday morning when Ben Jealous, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor, announced he was backing Jill P. Carter, a state senator betting her liberal bona fides can help her leapfrog two more well-known candidates, Jenna Portnoy reports for the Post.
ALSOBROOKS SLAMS PG FUND-RAISING BAN AS BIASED: Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) is attacking a fundraising ban that applies to politicians in her county as racially biased, saying it’s an “injustice” that the majority-black jurisdiction is the only place in Maryland bound by the restriction, Rachel Chason of the Post is reporting.
MO CO PUSHES CLIMATE INITIATIVES: Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction, is promising an ambitious package of new climate initiatives in 2020, joining other liberal counties, cities and states stepping up to address what they see as the Trump administration’s resistance to protecting the planet, Rebecca Tan of the Post reports.
LEOPOLD RUNNING FOR AA ED BOARD? Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland writes that ex-Arundel County Executive John Leopold is apparently planning on running for Anne Arundel Board of Education. Leopold has been going door-to-door in Anne Arundel County’s 2nd Councilmanic district handing out this literature obtained by Red Maryland highlighting his record on education.
CARROLL CONSIDERS REPEALING ‘ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE’ LAW: The 2013 ordinance that made English the official language of Carroll County might be repealed in the near future after the Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted Thursday to hold a public hearing about undoing the law, Mary Grace Keller of the Carroll County Times reports. Commissioner Dennis Frazier suggested that the law has done nothing to change the way the county operates, has “tarnished” the way Carroll looks to outsiders, and makes the county “look bad” and appear “divisive.”