HOGAN OFFERS BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday said his newly proposed $47.9 billion budget for FY 2021 shows fiscal responsibility without raising taxes and urged state lawmakers to curb spending in the legislative session, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter. “This budget funds all of the state’s top priorities while maintaining $1.3 billion in reserves and limiting budget growth to 1 percent without raising taxes, without cutting services and without raiding dedicated special funds,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House.
- Hogan also said his separate capital budget would cover every backlogged school construction project in the state, enabling a proposal he and Democratic leaders have pitched to quickly build, renovate or fix schools, Erin Cox reports for the Post.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that top of mind for Hogan is increased spending on crime-reduction initiatives in Baltimore, including funding for more than two dozen additional assistant state’s attorneys who would focus on violent crime prosecutions. Hogan called crime “the No. 1 concern of Marylanders by far.”
- Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that Hogan said his budget includes: $74.5 million for police aid to local governments; $38.7 million for local government law enforcement grants; $272 million for community and residential youth services and juvenile services; $7.3 billion for K-12 education and $350 million to implement Kirwan Commission recommendations for education reform.
- Hogan said passing his legislative package to fight violent crime in Baltimore is “the most important thing” legislators can do this session, emphasizing that it is the top concern of Marylanders, according to a recent poll, Ryan Little of CNS is reporting. “It would be outrageous if we cannot get that done,” Hogan said. “Right now, we have to stop the bloodshed in the streets that is happening every single day.”
- David Collins of WBAL-TV reports that the governor budgeted $862 million for mental health and substance abuse programs “to help combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, which is driving so much of the gang violence.”
- Here’s Rachel Baye’s story for WYPR-FM.
- Members of AFSCME, the state’s largest employee union, took issue with Hogan’s focus on criminal justice funding, at an afternoon press conference, Danielle Gaines reports for Maryland Matters. The union has been advocating against staffing shortfalls at key state agencies, including the departments of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Juvenile Services, and Health.
SEN. SMITH TARGETS HOUSING VOUCHER BIAS: A bill that would make it illegal for landlords to discriminate against voucher holders is the top priority of the new chair of Maryland’s powerful Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. CNS’s Ryan Little reports in MarylandReporter that Sen. Will Smith Jr., D-Montgomery, said he also will push to require background checks for private sales of rifles and shotguns, appropriate more funds to hire state prosecutors and address racial disparities in the state’s prison population.
PROSECUTORS SEEK FIX IN PAROLE ELIGIBILITY: Maryland’s chief local prosecutors pressed a Senate committee Tuesday to correct what they called a quirk in the state’s sentencing law that enables life-sentenced first-degree murderers or rapists to become eligible for parole after spending less time in prison than second-degree murderers must spend before they reach eligibility, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.
CARBON TAX EYED TO PAY PART OF KIRWAN TAB: A carbon tax bill will be back in the General Assembly for the third year in a row, House and Senate sponsors said Tuesday, with an ambitious goal: zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2040, writes Samantha Hawkins for Maryland Matters. “Our Children’s Future Act” would require polluters to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, and would invest that revenue — projected at $880 million in the first year and $1.74 billion by the 10th year — into clean energy and education.
MARYLAND JOINS OPPOSITION TO TRUMP LNG SHIPMENTS: The attorneys general of 15 states – including Maryland — said this week that they oppose a Trump administration proposal to allow rail shipments of liquefied natural gas, arguing the trains will share tracks with passenger trains and travel through congested areas, Marc Levy reports in the Sun. The protesting states include Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where the Trump administration issued a special permit in December to ship LNG by rail.
EX-DELEGATE RETURNS TO LOBBY: Former state Del. Shane Robinson, who chaired Montgomery County’s 24-member House delegation for four years before narrowly losing a 2018 re-election bid, is back in Annapolis, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat is reporting. Robinson last month became executive director of Baltimore-based Trash Free Maryland, a nonprofit organization. He recently registered to lobby the Maryland General Assembly on behalf of the group’s environmental agenda.
OPINION: THE WELCOME CHANGE: The editorial board for the Sun opines on the belated honor that the late Sen. Verda Mae Welcome received with her portrait being hung in Senate chambers. Sen. Welcome, the board writes, “may not be a familiar name to a lot of people, even history buffs. … But she is of no less importance. Verda Mae Freeman Welcome wasn’t just the first African American woman to be elected to the Maryland Senate, she was the first to be elected to any state senate in this country. And that wasn’t even her first broken barrier.”
BREW REPORTER OUSTED FROM DEM MEETING: A reporter for Baltimore Brew was kicked out of the Democratic Central Committee meeting in which Chanel Branch was tapped to replace ex-Del. Cheryl Glenn in the House. But who asked that the reporter be removed and were the votes taken properly are matters of question.
FOUR MO CO DELEGATES SEEK DEM CONVENTION SEATS: Four state legislators from Montgomery County are among those seeking to be delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. State Dels. Gabriel Acevero and Vaughn Stewart are vying for seats pledged to the presidential candidacy of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Del. Kirill Reznik is running pledged to Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind. Del. David Moon is seeking a convention seat as a supporter of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Louis Peck reports in Bethesda Beat.
VIGNARAJAH LEADS SCOTT IN CITY POLL: WBFF-TV is reporting that according to a new Fox 45 News Gonzales Mayoral Race Poll, Baltimore voters are looking to make a major change in city leadership. The survey conducted at the end of December shows former Prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah has a slight lead over Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott in the race for mayor.
ARUNDEL SCHOOLS WAIT FOR PROBE RESULTS IN STUDENT’ DEATH: Anne Arundel County Schools Superintendent George Arlotto is waiting for the results of an outside investigation before deciding if any corrective action is needed following the death of a 17-year-old special education student who choked on a plastic glove at Central Special School, Naomi Harris of the Capital Gazette reports.
HARFORD COLLEGE ADMINS FIRED: Kaitlin Kulich and B. Rae Perryman of the Cecil Whig report that three senior-level administrators have been fired from Harford Community College after using official e-mail accounts to participate in a betting pool about which lower-level employees would be the next to go amid an era of unprecedented turnover at the institution.