SERVICE TAX PLAN KILLED IN SUBCOMMITTEE: The much-maligned proposal to expand Maryland’s sales tax to professional services was defeated by state lawmakers Wednesday night. A House of Delegates subcommittee that reviews tax changes rejected the sales-tax bill on a unanimous, bipartisan vote in a late-night voting session, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- The Post’s Ovetta Wiggins reports that House leaders introduced the bill last month as a way to pay for a major public education overhaul, including an expansion of prekindergarten, pay raises for teachers, and programs to prepare more students for college and the workforce.
- Rachel Aragon of WBFF Fox 45 reports that opponents of the tax bill said slapping sales tax on more services was not the way to fund the program. Now that the tax bill has been voted down, lawmakers have moved a smaller package of revenue bills.
- Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes that the bill would have lowered the state’s sales-tax rate from 6% to 5%, but expanded it to apply to most services not currently taxed. The measure attracted emphatic opposition at a hearing earlier this week.
HOUSE ON TRACK TO OK KIRWAN: The Maryland House of Delegates is on track to approve a sweeping overhaul of public education by the end of the week, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. The bill would adjust the state’s funding formulas for public schools and expand programs such as career- and college-prep for high schoolers, prekindergarten for low-income children and services for schools in impoverished neighborhoods. It also would boost teacher training and pay.
COVID-19 UPDATES: HOGAN SEEKS MORE MONEY: Sun staff is reporting that Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he plans to seek immediate access to millions of dollars in the state’s rainy day fund to fight the novel coronavirus in addition to $10 million in extra funding in the state budget.
- The Maryland Emergency Management Agency is also raising its activation level from “Normal” to “Enhanced” to mobilize additional resources across state government, Hogan announced, Marcus Dieterle of Baltimore Fishbowl writes.
- Currently, 21 Maryland residents have been tested for the virus. Ten of those have tested negative, with 11 tests pending, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.
- As countries around the world continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, Maryland health officials are beginning to put together response plans should the virus become a pandemic, Lillian Reed of the Sun writes.
- A private all-girls Jewish school in Baltimore sent three students home early Wednesday because they may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, the Sun’s McKenna Oxenden reports.
- If there’s a local outbreak of the coronavirus disease, Montgomery County Public Schools officials say they are prepared to continue teaching remotely, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat is reporting.
BILL TAKES AIM AT HOGAN HIGHWAY PLAN: An influential committee chairman has introduced a measure that would require top state officials to publicly approve toll rates on the Hogan administration’s high-profile plan to widen two Washington, D.C.-area highways and future big-ticket projects, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. The measure is one of a handful of proposals that seek to regulate projects that tap private funds, so-called “public-private partnerships.” The bills all go before a legislative panel on Thursday afternoon.
BPW AWARDS EXONEREES $8.7M: Maryland’s spending panel awarded more than $8.7 million Wednesday to three recently exonerated men who spent more than 100 combined years in prison, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun. The Board of Public Works voted unanimously to pay about $2.9 million each to Alfred Chestnut, Andrew Stewart Jr. and Ransom Watkins.
‘KAVANAUGH BILL’ RUFFLES FEATHERS: A Maryland senator has ruffled feathers in Annapolis by sending a lengthy letter to his fellow Republicans, urging them to vote against a bill that would give survivors of child sexual abuse more time to sue their abusers, suggesting that giving abuse survivors unlimited time to sue would be akin to the “travesty” of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Pamela Wood of the Sun writes.
CRIME BILLS ADVANCE: Despite weeks of hostility, a Maryland Senate committee late Wednesday advanced three anti-crime bills, including one that contains large portions of Gov. Larry Hogan’s top legislative priority: the Violent Firearms Offenders Act, writes the Sun’s Luke Broadwater.
MOSBY-HOGAN CRIME FEUD ESCALATES: A dispute between top Maryland officials about how best to address violent crime in Baltimore continued to escalate this week, with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby trading barbed words, Luke Broadwater reports in the Sun.
‘GANG’ OR ‘CRIME ORGANIZATION:’ An article in the state’s criminal law could have the term “gang” replaced with “criminal organization” if bills cross-filed and sponsored by Del. Jesse Pippy (R-Frederick and Carroll) and Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) become law, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports. The change seems like a simple one, but both Pippy and Hough said this week it’s part of a broader effort to strengthen that part of the state code.
ARMING FIRST RESPONDERS: Del. Wayne Hartman (R-Wicomico-Worcester) urged fellow lawmakers on Wednesday to pass legislation that would allow workers in high-risk professions — including firefighters, EMTS, probation officers, nurses and security guards at houses of worship — to carry handguns, reports Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter..
FRANCHOT WANTS RE-EXAMINATION OF MIA LEASE: Comptroller Peter Franchot wants a key state board he serves on to reexamine its approval of a lease extension for the Maryland Insurance Administration, citing “misinformation” presented to the board and a new ruling that the agency’s lease award violated procurement laws, Lorraine Mirabella writs in the Sun.
- Gov. Larry Hogan Wednesday flatly rejected a call for the BPW to reconsider a lease for the Maryland Insurance Administration headquarters after a contract appeals board said the lease ran afoul of procurement rules, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
VOTERS MAY DECIDE SPORTS BETTING IN NOVEMBER: After years of fits and starts, an effort to legalize betting on sports is moving forward in Maryland’s legislature, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun. A bill being debated by the state Senate would let voters decide during the November election whether to allow betting on sports, from college basketball’s March Madness to NFL games on Sundays.
MOLD MITIGATION PROPOSAL: Del. Shaneka Henson (D-Anne Arundel) unveiled a piece of legislation Wednesday that aims to regulate the way the state handles the mitigation and prevention of mold in homes and schools, Hannah Gaskill writes for Maryland Matters.
HOGAN MEETS WITH B’MORE MAYOR HOPEFULS: Gov. Larry Hogan is getting increasingly involved in Baltimore’s mayoral the race, Luke Broadwater writes for the Sun. This week in Annapolis, Hogan — a rare second-term Republican governor in a blue state— has been holding one-on-one meetings with some of the mayoral hopefuls from heavily Democratic Baltimore, some 30 miles north.
POLL: DEL. MOSBY LEADS IN RACE FOR CITY COUNCIL PRES : Talia Richman reports that a new poll shows that Del. Nick Mosby has carved out a lead in the race to be Baltimore’s next City Council president, though many voters remain undecided about who they want as the city’s No. 2 elected official.
CITY COUNCIL STUMPED OVER WATER BILLING PROBLEMS: Baltimore City Council members expressed frustration with the mayor’s administration and said they still have unanswered questions after an oversight meeting Wednesday night about water billing problems and the ongoing audit, writes McKenna Oxenden for the Sun.
BIDEN RACKS UP LOCAL ENDORSEMENTS: Rachel Chason of the Post writes that Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, saying his strong leadership is what the country needs to “protect and restore our values.”
- U.S. Rep.Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County and fellow Maryland congressman David Trone plan to endorse the former vice president Thursday, according to a statement from Biden’s campaign. And former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — who had been a national co-chair of Michael Bloomberg’s campaign before he dropped out of the race on Wednesday — also endorsed Biden, Jeff Barker reports for the Sun.