GOVERNOR, LEGISLATURE AT WAR OVER CRIME, TAXES: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday implored members of the General Assembly to take immediate action on a series of bills aimed at reducing violent crime in Baltimore City, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.com. Calling violent crime in Baltimore a crisis, the governor re-designated his violent-crime package as emergency legislation and begged the General Assembly to immediately pass the bills so he can quickly sign them into law. “We don’t want to hear any more excuses. There cannot be any more delays. We need to stop playing politics. Pass these bills.”

  • Hogan launched a blistering attack on Democratic lawmakers Thursday, accusing them of blocking vital anti-crime legislation for political purposes and suggesting that a proposal from House leaders to fund a major education reform plan could ruin the Maryland economy, Josh Kurtz and Danielle Gaines report for MarylandMatters.
  • Citing their opposition to mandatory minimum sentences, Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly say they are unlikely to pass Hogan’s priority this session, the Violent Firearms Offender Act  —infuriating the governor, who alleges lawmakers aren’t taking shootings in Baltimore seriously.
  • Amid a verbal tit-for-tat between Hogan and leaders in the General Assembly and Baltimore’s City Hall, Hogan announced he is designating as emergency legislation the violent crime bills he introduced at the start of the legislative session, Tyler Waldman reports for WBAL.
  • Larry Hogan’s latest lambasting of the legislature over delays in passing his crime bills has left at least one legislative leader feeling a little left out, reports Bryan Sears of the Daily Record. House Speaker Adrienne Jones said she too is concerned with violent crime in the city and around the state but has not met with the governor once since the session began.
  • Calling it a “life and death crisis” — particularly in Baltimore — Hogan announced that he will redesignate his violent crime package as emergency legislation, reports Jeff Barnes for the Capital News Service.
  • While Democrats who control the Maryland General Assembly are keeping focused on education, Hogan —a Republican — criticized them Thursday for failing to act on his proposals to fight crime in Baltimore,  Brian Witte reports for the Associated Press.
  • During his press briefing Thursday, Hogan stood by his legislation and said the majority of Baltimore citizens and Marylanders agree with him, citing results of a poll of “600 likely voters” that he commissioned in December from Ragnar Research Partners, Marcus Dieterle writes for Baltimore Fishbowl.

GOV: SALES TAX PLAN WOULD DESTROY ECONOMY: Gov. Larry Hogan vowed Thursday to oppose a proposed change in the sales tax that would reduce the rate but expand who pays it by charging it on an array of services from landscaping to lawyers, Pamela Wood and Emily Opilo report for the Sun. He said collecting more sales tax would erase economic gains made in the state during his tenure as governor.

  • Hogan condemned the Democratic proposal to raise money for schools by expanding the sales tax to include professional services, saying the change would “destroy our economy,” Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox write in the Post.
  • Hogan said it would hurt middle-class families and is the highest proposed sales tax in the state’s history, Steve Bohnel reports for The Frederick News-Post.
  • And Carroll County’s elected officials say businesses and the working class will suffer if the sales tax expansion proposal passes, Mary Grace Keller writes for the Carroll County Times. She reports Sen. Justin Ready is ready to vote against it.

OPINION: ABOUT TIME FOR EDUCATION FUNDING BOMB: Democratic lawmakers raised the education funding stakes Thursday, when they lobbed a $2.6 billion sales tax hike smack into the middle of the discussion on how to pay for reforms recommended from the state’s Kirwan Commission. And it was about time, the Baltimore Sun’s editorial board writes.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE JOINS BLOOMBERG CAMPAIGN: Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Thursday named former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as one of his national political co-chairs, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun.

MARSHALL’S SCHOOL TO BE COMMUNITY SPACE: A once segregated West Baltimore school where future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall received his early education is set to receive a $6 million makeover. The school will turn it into a legal resource center and museum space for the surrounding community, Kevin Rector reports for the Sun.

BANNING ANIMAL-KILLING CONTESTS: The Humane Society of the United States is speaking out against wildlife-killing contests that are legal in Maryland, reports Rachel Menitoff for WJZ-TV. The so-called contests are known as predator hunts and would be banned under a proposed bill.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA AT JAILS DEBATED: The effort to prohibit medical marijuana at local jails went to the House of Delegates this week as Del. William Wivell presented legislation that would allow officials to ban its use, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

FUNDING CUT FOR THE CHESAPEAKE: Members of Congress, state lawmakers and environmental groups are rallying against President Donald Trump’s 91% funding cut for Chesapeake Bay cleanup and restoration included in his 2021 fiscal budget, reports Bryan Gallion for the Capital News Service.

SALISBURY CLOSES FOR DAY OF HEALING: The FBI is at Salisbury University investigating campus-wide racial threats that forced the school to close Thursday, reports Tim Tooten for WBAL. The racially charged messages were left in the stairwells of two university buildings. The school’s president called the act cowardly.

HANDCUFFING FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR: A bill from State Sen. Bryan Simonaire would require the Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission to develop written policies for law enforcement agencies across the state on the appropriate use of handcuffs when taking a person into custody, Olivia Sanchez reports for the Capital Gazette. This often happens when someone gets a warrant for failure to appear in court.

MACO OPPOSES SOLAR MANDATE: The Maryland Association of Counties testified against a bill that would place a costly mandate on county governments to carry out new state policy to place the maximum number of solar panels on a roof during new construction or major renovation projects, reports Megan Todd for the MACO blog Conduit Street.

STATE GRANTS FOR WORKFORCE ASSESSMENT: Sen. Andrew Serafini is trying once again to get authorization for a state grant program to help employers pay for a workforce assessment that would measure a potential employee’s skills, Tamela Baker writes in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The bill, spurred by Hagerstown Community College, aims to develop a skilled, certified workforce in Washington County and elsewhere in Maryland.

OPINION: STATE SHOULD LIMIT JAILHOUSE INFORMANTS: It’s time the state cracks down on the testimony from informants motivated by promises of reduced sentences or other incentives, to protect the integrity of the judicial system and help bring an end to false convictions, opines the Baltimore Sun editorial board. Jailhouse informants’ false finger-pointing and outright lies have resulted in innocent people winding up in prison, or, in the worst cases, sentenced to death row, the editorial argues.

ICC DETOURS CONTINUED FOR TOLL UPGRADE: Detours on the Intercounty Connector are scheduled to remain in place through early spring as the Maryland Transportation Authority upgrades the overhead tolling equipment above Route 200, Dave Dildine reports for WTOP.