Merry Christmas! State Roundup will return Monday, Dec. 28
MIKE MILLER RESIGNS FROM SENATE: Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller announced Wednesday his retirement from the body he served in for 45 years and led for more than 30 years. The 78-year-old has been battling prostate cancer for two years. He is considered an institution in Maryland politics, reports Bryan Renbaum for Maryland Reporter.
- He relinquished the gavel in 2019 after being diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer and was replaced as chamber leader by Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). But Miller kept his seat representing parts of Prince George’s, Calvert and Charles counties, Paul Schwartzman of the Post reports.
- Miller wrote that he made the decision “with tremendous sadness.” He wrote that he treasured the Maryland Senate’s ability to work together despite partisan differences, in contrast to partisan divisions that define Congress and national politics, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- Miller, a student of history, made his announcement in a letter to Senate President Bill Ferguson and in video calls with friends and aides and reporters. His resignation comes 237 years to the day that Gen. George Washington resigned his commission in a handwritten letter before the Continental Congress, which met in what is now the historic Senate chamber in the State House, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that Miller, speaking to reporters on a midday Zoom call, said, “I thought I could continue on. … But the cancer is in all my bones.” “My body is wracked with pain,” he added. “Physically I’m not able to do the job.”
- Miller spoke of the demands on a state senator from the library of his home overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, Joel McCord and Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM report. “To be a state senator and to do the job well, you gotta be available 24 hours a day mentally as well as physically able,” he said.
- Here is a copy of Miller’s resignation letter, published in the Sun.
POLS PRAISE MILLER: Maryland Matters compiles comments of praise from politicians from all over the state for Miller upon his retirement, including Gov. Hogan, who said, “. I have known Mike since I was a kid, and it has been one of my greatest privileges as governor to serve alongside him.”
OPINION: MILLER KNEW HOW TO GET STUFF DONE: In a column for his Duckpin blog, Brian Griffiths opines, “Mike Miller … knew his fellow legislators and what made them tick. He provided an opportunity for the minority party to be heard. But he also knew where the bodies were buried, where his caucus was going, and how to get stuff done in the General Assembly. … He was perhaps the most pragmatic legislator ever seen.”
DEL. JACKSON COULD SUCCEED MILLER: With Miller’s announcement Wednesday that he is immediately ending his unparalleled 51-year legislative career, Del. Michael A. Jackson of Prince George’s, has quickly emerged as his likely successor in the Senate. Jackson told Maryland Matters that he will apply to fill the vacancy, reports Josh Kurtz.
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LOCAL POLS, ADVOCATES SAY STATE SHORTED IN FED RELIEF FUNDING: After Congress cut aid to local governments from its next round of COVID-19 relief, a coalition of local and state leaders is demanding that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) use Maryland’s rainy day fund as a stimulus for local governments, Bennett Leckrone of Maryland Matters reports.
- State Comptroller Peter Franchot said at a news conference that Congress’ latest stimulus bill would not be enough. He said the state has billions of dollars in reserves it can use for relief in addition to federal aid, and that the governor needs to act now, Sarah Kim of WYPR-FM reports.
- Local business advocates say that the stimulus bill that passed through Congress on Tuesday — which contains a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans worth hundreds of billions — is exactly what small businesses in Maryland need to stay afloat right now. But advocates are lamenting the lack of liability protections and failure to distribute funds to local and state governments, Johanna Alonso of the Daily Record reports. A Maryland bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris West, that will offer these protections to businesses has been prefiled ahead of the 2021 session.
- Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker was among those who said Hogan needs to use money from the state’s more than $928 million rainy day fund, more than $1.5 billion in reserves and $586 million positive general fund balance to provide more economic relief to businesses and residents, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.
DINING BANS UPHELD IN 3 JURISDICTIONS: After a 12-hour hearing, a Maryland judge upheld a ban on indoor dining in Montgomery County late Wednesday night, agreeing with a judge in neighboring Prince George’s County who made a similar ruling earlier in the day, the Post’s Rachel Chason, Rebecca Tan and Patricia Sullivan report.
- Judges in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County have allowed dining bans in those jurisdictions to stand, casting doubt on a Maryland trade group’s quest to overturn them, Christine Tkacik of the Sun reports. In both places, judges said Wednesday that restaurants are unique among businesses in that patrons must remove their masks to eat, posing additional risks for transmission of the coronavirus.
- Jose Umana of WTOP-FM reports that after a judge in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, ruled in support of allowing some outdoor dining last week, other jurisdictions received rulings on similar restrictions Wednesday. On Wednesday, some dining bans in Prince George’s County and the City of Baltimore were ultimately allowed to stay after circuit court judges ruled in their favor.
- Judge James Bonifant said Wednesday that he would not enter an injunction against Montgomery County’s ban. But, reports Dan Schere for Bethesda Beat, he will schedule another preliminary injunction hearing just after the holidays because he thinks there is “more to review.”
- Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill ruled that although the restaurants demonstrated that they face “irreparable harm” as a result of the restrictions, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott’s recent decision to ban on-premise dining was in the interest of public health, Jessica Ianetta of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
STATE LAUNCHES VACCINE SECTION OF DATA DASHBOARD: Kevin Kinnally of Conduit Street reports that the state of Maryland has launched a new COVID-19 vaccination data dashboard on coronavirus.maryland.gov, updating its standard daily COVID-19 reporting with additional metrics, including statewide vaccinations by region, age group, gender, race, and ethnicity.
PITTMAN SETS $1.4M OF CARES FUNDS FOR ARUNDEL SCHOOLS: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced approximately $1.4 million of federal CARES Act funding for Anne Arundel County Public Schools for costs related to the COVID-19 virus. This assistance will pay for cleaning and sanitation supplies, food services supplies, software to facilitate digital classes, and overtime costs for information technology personnel, Eye on Annapolis reports.
MARYLAND CONGRESSMAN THREATENED: Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested a man accused of threatening to kill a member of Congress from Maryland earlier this month if the lawmaker tried to ”mess” with the man’s vote, the AP is reporting.