State Roundup, January 21, 2020

G.A. IS URGED TO ADDRESS STRUCTURAL DEFICIT: Fiscal analysts encouraged the Maryland General Assembly’s budget committees on Monday to do more this year to address the state’s structural deficit, particularly before education reform or an economic downturn could widen the shortfall, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports. Gov. Larry Hogan’s $47.9 billion proposed budget includes changes to state spending and revenue to close a cash shortfall, but Department of Legislative Services analysts say the proposal leaves a structural deficit of about $37 million.

BILL ON TOLL ROADS RETURNS: A bill that would give all Maryland counties consent over toll bridges, highways and roads planned in their jurisdictions is back for another try in the General Assembly, Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post reports. The bill seeks to prohibit the building of a toll project without the agreement of a majority of counties that would be affected, a right that is currently available to counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

HOGAN RETURNS $63,000 IN DONATIONS: Gov. Hogan has returned nearly $63,000 in campaign contributions after the Maryland Democratic Party accused dozens of his donors of violating election law. The Republican governor’s latest campaign finance report, filed this week, shows most of the contributions were returned on July 30, just days after Democrats filed a complaint with the Maryland State Board of Elections accusing 96 businesses and individuals of violating the state’s limit on contributions, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

OPINION: DIGITAL AD BILL A BAD IDEA: In an op-ed for the Sun, Sean Brescia of Mission Media — a Baltimore-based branding and marketing agency, — opines that the “Digital Advertising Gross Revenues — Taxation” bill would devote much of the revenues generated from the tax toward Kirwan education initiatives over several years and is a legislative priority of both the House and Senate. But after introduction of the bill, the American Advertising Federation of Baltimore and AAF National immediately sounded the alarm, saying that “it would give Maryland the dubious distinction of being the only state in the country to pass a discriminatory digital advertising tax that runs afoul of Federal law and the Constitution.”

WALLETHUB RANKS STATE 9th IN RACE RELATIONS: Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter writes that, according to a recent study by WalletHub, race relations are better in Maryland than in most states. The study found that Maryland ranks 9th in racial integration and 11th among states that have made the most racial progress. The study also found that Maryland ranks 5th among states with the lowest poverty rate gap.

MOSBY DRAWS LINK FROM MLK TO SPEAKER JONES: Del. Nick Mosby on Monday drew a direct line between the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and House Speaker Adrienne Jones, saying Jones’ ascension to the top job in the chamber last year “is in no small way the manifestations” of the work of King and other civil rights leaders, writes Josh Kurtz and Hannah Gaskill for Maryland Matters. “You are a historic figure and a game-changer,” Mosby told his colleague as he delivered the annual King Day speech in the House. Jones is the first African-American and the first woman to hold the speaker’s gavel.

NEW PLAN FOR FREDERICK FUNDS: Frederick County’s state senators have a new plan for the $5 million originally intended for a downtown hotel project and conference center in Frederick. Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News Post writes that Sens. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Ron Young (D-Frederick) both said Monday that they met earlier this month with the state’s secretary of budget and management, David Brinkley, to discuss how those funds could be allocated.

BPW OKs $40,000 FOR GARRETT WATER QUALITY: The Maryland Board of Public Works recently approved more than $4.7 million in grants to reduce pollution and improve water quality, the Maryland Department of the Environment has announced. Garrett County was awarded $40,000, the Garrett Republican reports.

7th DISTRICT DEMS DISAGREE: Democratic candidates for Baltimore’s vacant 7th Congressional District seat sought to separate themselves from a crowded field during a debate in which criminal justice played a leading role — and provoked one of the evening’s rare disagreements, Jeff Barker of the Sun is reporting.

THE 7th CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS: TALMADGE BRANCH: When it comes to selecting Baltimore’s next member of Congress, Talmadge Branch hopes voters look for experience. Branch has spent more than two decades representing the city in the General Assembly, where he says he’s brought home millions for Baltimore programs and advanced the Democrats’ agenda as the party’s chief vote-counter, writes Pamela Wood. “If they want a person that can get results — I’m not a whole lot of glamour, but I can certainly work to make sure we bring the bacon home,” Branch said.

PG LEADS MO CO AS JOB CREATOR: Prince George’s County, once considered a weak link in the region’s economy, has overtaken neighboring Montgomery as the leading job-creator in the Maryland suburbs, Robert McCartney writes in an analysis for the Post. The change is a tribute in part to more honest and effective political leadership in Prince George’s, whose name was once synonymous with corruption, according to officials, business leaders and economists. The county has aggressively courted companies, spent tens of millions of dollars on incentives and begun developing prime space around underused Metro stations

BA CO COUNCIL TO TAKE UP GUN SHOP BILL: The Baltimore County Council is expected to vote today on County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s sweeping proposal to require more security at gun shops and gun shows, writes Wilborn Nobles in the Sun. The bill, known as the Secure All Firearms Effectively, or SAFE, Act would create a new license for firearm stores and temporary gun shows in the county. Those shops and shows wouldn’t be able to have or sell firearms without the license.

B’MORE MAYOR CANDIDATE CITED: Baltimore mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah was cited last September for driving his car while his registration was suspended, in a nearly hourlong traffic stop recorded by a city police officer’s body camera. The Democrat said he regrets unknowingly driving on suspended tags and has resolved the problem, Luke Broadwater and Talia Richman of the Sun report.

OPINION: ‘ENGLISH ONLY’ NOT WHAT YOU THINK: In a column for the Carroll County Times, Christopher Tomlinson opines that as the County Commissioners consider repealing the county’s “English Only” ordinance, they should be aware that “English Only” is hardly an accurate description. While the ordinance limits official actions of the county government to English, County Attorney Tim Burke made it clear that the ordinance does not apply to the private sector. Burke also said the ordinance is trumped by federal and state laws requiring that certain federally and state-funded services, such as court services and citizen services, must be accessible to languages other than English.

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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