GOV ANNOUNCES MAJOR VETOES, INCLUDING LANDMARK EDUCATION BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed major legislation Thursday, citing the massive hit on Maryland’s economy from the coronavirus pandemic. The vetoes include a sweeping overhaul of the state’s public schools and a funding increase to address inequities at historically black colleges and universities, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood report for the Baltimore Sun.
- “Hogan warned weeks ago that high unemployment and widespread economic pain made it unlikely he would approve any legislation that forced the state to spend more money,” Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins write for the Washington Post. He vetoed 22 bills with a price tag.
- “By far the most significant veto was that of the Kirwan Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which when fully phased in would have boosted education spending by almost $4 billion a year and which had been the top priority of Democratic legislative leaders last session,” Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record. Legislative leaders expressed disappointment and said they would consider the next steps. It’s unclear if they will meet before January since a special session that had been scheduled for May was canceled due to the pandemic.
- “The economic fallout from this pandemic simply makes it impossible to fund any new programs, impose any new tax hikes, nor adopt any legislation having any significant fiscal impact, regardless of the merits of the legislation,” Hogan wrote in a veto letter. The high-profile bills were prioritized by the Democrat-led General Assembly and Kirwan was passed with enough support to override a veto, Brian Witte reports for the AP.
- Hogan said it would be “unconscionable” to permit legislation that raises taxes on residents and businesses already struggling, Holden Wilen reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Both the Kirwan veto and one for historically black colleges and universities “set up epic battles with Democrats in the General Assembly that will show the ability of new Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson to unite their caucuses behind key pieces of their agenda,” David Lublin blogs for The Seventh State.
INEQUITY BILL FOR STATE’S 4 HBCU’S: Also vetoed was a bill giving $577 million in additional state funding over a decade to make education spending more equitable for Maryland’s historically black colleges and universities, reports Adam Bednar for The Daily Record. The bill was intended to help settle a years-old lawsuit with the state’s four HBCUs.
- “The vetoed HBCU bill would help settle a bitter 2006 federal lawsuit in which the state was accused of undermining black colleges and universities by creating duplicate academic programs at traditionally white schools,” Ian Round writes for Baltimore Brew.
- The veto is drawing criticism from Baltimore City Council members, reports Tre Ward for WBALTV. “It’s a smack of disrespect in the face of historically black colleges and universities in the state of Maryland,” City Council President Brandon Scott said.
HUNDREDS OF BILLS BECOME LAW WITHOUT SIGNATURE: Hogan declined to sign the remaining legislation that will become law, dispensing of traditional “bill signing” ceremonies that would have violated social distancing, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. Among the more than 600 bills that will become law without his signature is a bill to keep the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
HOGAN CRISIS RESPONSE DRAWS PRAISE FROM BALTIMORE: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young (D) applauded Gov. Larry Hogan’s proactive response to the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland in a phone interview with Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter.com.
OUTDOORS ENJOYED AGAIN: Golfers and recreation users flocked to outdoor courses, courts and parks as soon as the orders were lifted to close them, Edward Lee, Bill Wagner and Brent Kennedy report for the Sun.
- In St. Mary’s, playgrounds reopened Thursday at 7 a.m. and golf and waterfront parks requiring more staff will likely open over the weekend, reports Dan Belson for the St. Mary’s Enterprise.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN OCEAN CITY: Police will be patrolling the boardwalk to enforce social distancing as Ocean City’s beaches reopen this weekend, Kelly Powers reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. Restaurants are still closed except for to-go orders, hotels and rental properties may not accept reservations for nonessential travelers through May 22, and many boardwalk businesses are closed.
HOSPITALIZATIONS DOWN: Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are going down, pointing to a possible downward trend needed before Hogan will reopen the state, Heather Mongillio reports for the Frederick News-Post. Coronavirus hospitalizations were down by 24 statewide.
LOCAL LEADERS WANT IN ON APPROACH TO REOPENING: Western Maryland leaders are calling on Hogan to take a regional approach in reopening the state, editor Joseph Haugher reports for the Garrett County Republican. With fewer cases in Western Maryland counties, commissioners, state delegates and senators argued the region might be a candidate for a regional reopening.
- The Washington County Commissioners were among the leaders who signed on to the letter, reports Dave McMillion for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
- And the “Big Eight” Maryland county executives, which include the state’s most populous counties in the central part of the state, wrote a letter to Hogan asking for a voice in decisions to reopen Maryland, Olivia Sanchez reports for the Capital Gazette.
RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT: With gig workers now included in unemployment claims, the state saw a record number of first-time unemployment claims, Bryan P. Sears reports for the Daily Record. More than 109,000 people filed first-time claims, including 47,263 from the new “gig” category.
HOSPITALS WELCOME RESTARTING PROCEDURES, SURGERIES: Officials say reopening for elective surgeries will save lives and help shore up the bottom line of hospitals, Morgan Eichensehr reports for Baltimore Business Journal. Health care providers were given the green light Wednesday to resume these procedures, such as vascular reports or surgeries for cancer.
MOVES TO INCREASE TESTING: Three health care centers on the Eastern Shore will get federal funding to provide more COVID-19 testing, Kelly Broderick reports for WMAR.
- Montgomery County plans to significantly expand its testing capacity to provide more than 2,000 tests a day through a new partnership at several testing sites, Briana Adhikusuma reports for Bethesda Beat.
NO JURY TRIALS BEFORE JULY 20: Jury trials in Maryland will not resume until July 20 at the earliest, sparking understanding but also “deep concern” for those constitutionally entitled to a speedy jury trial, Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record. The Maryland Judiciary on Thursday revealed the plans to a Senate panel.
COMMENTARY: UNION PRESIDENT ON EDUCATION VETO: “The current pandemic has revealed deep, existing problems while creating new challenges for our schools and students,” Pia Morrison, president of SEIU Local 500, writes for Maryland Matters, saying now is not the time to veto our children’s future.
CRIME NOT STAYING HOME: Stay-at-home orders are not deterring crime in the D.C. metro area, Sophie Kaplan reports for the Washington Times. In Prince George’s County, a spokeswoman reported seeing no significant changes in crime since the order started.
- Maryland State Police are trying to crack down on speeding after an increase in truck crashes on the “big curve” of the Capital Beltway, reports Mike Murillo for WTOP. The lack of volume has allowed for more speed on the curve.
COUNTY WORKERS BANK TIME: Carroll County employees doing “required work” are able to bank time-and-a-half leave for the future, and about half of county commissioner employees, like 911 operators, are doing so, Mary Grace Keller reports for the Carroll County Times.
CASINO REVENUE DOWN: Maryland is seeing a steep decrease in revenue from casinos, since they remained closed through April, the Business Monthly reports. This means contributions to the Education Trust Fund are down for the fiscal year.
LOLLAR BACK TO POLITICS: Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles Lollar has resurfaced as a candidate for Congress in Georgia, Brian Griffiths reports for Red Maryland.
FACEBOOK GRANT: MarylandReporter.com’s longtime State Roundup editor Cynthia Prairie’s news website, Chester Telegraph — which she publishes with her husband, Shawn Cunningham, in Vermont — was a recipient of the Facebook’s Journalism Project’s COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant Program. More than 2,000 publications applied, and the Chester Telegraph was one of 144 grantees for the program geared to underserved communities. The Telegraph got $35,000. In Maryland, the only recipient was The Afro in Baltimore, which got $100,000.