State Roundup: Political powerbroker Mike Miller dies; revenue bills eye $1.4B; 16 vetoes overturned; Hogan declares state of emergency

State Roundup: Political powerbroker Mike Miller dies; revenue bills eye $1.4B; 16 vetoes overturned; Hogan declares state of emergency

The Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington. National Park Service photo

REMEMBRANCES, TRIBUTES TO MIKE MILLER: Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller died Friday afternoon at age 78, Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter writes. The political powerbroker and old school Democrat who led the state’s upper chamber for more than four decades “passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by loved ones,” the statement said.

  • A thick-shouldered pragmatist who had no use for ideologues, Mr. Miller led the campaign to legalize casino gambling in Maryland and, despite his centrist views, facilitated the passage of progressive laws including legalization of same-sex marriage and the repeal of the death penalty, Paul Schwartzman of the Post writes.
  • There is little chance that anyone — in Maryland or anywhere — will hold power as long as the late Mike Miller, the former president of the state Senate who died on Friday. A gregarious backslapper with a big laugh, Miller dominated large rooms and small, Bruce DePuyt writes in this tribute for Maryland Matters.
  • A lion. Larger than life. One-of-a-kind leader. Those are just a few of the descriptions prominent Maryland figures offered over the past 24 hours, overcome by the news that former Maryland Senate President Mike Miller had died Friday. He was 78 and died of cancer, Alex Mann of the Sun reports.
  • News of Miller’s death came just hours after news that he had started to receive hospice care, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Miller’s condition had deteriorated since he announced his resignation from the Senate last month. In the following weeks, he described being in constant pain and unable to sit up, weakened by an aggressive prostate cancer that spread to his bones.
  • Maryland Matters gathers comment about Miller’s legacy.

REVENUE BILLS EYE BRINGING IN $1.4B: Several of Maryland’s most progressive lawmakers introduced a series of revenue bills on Friday that they say would provide the state an estimated $1.4 billion annually and make its tax system more equitable, Bryan Renbaum of Maryland Reporter reports. Many of the bills have been introduced in previous legislative sessions.

DEMS OVERRIDE HOGAN VETOES: Maryland lawmakers began the task Friday of undoing more than a dozen of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of bills, including measures to expand violence prevention programs, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. The Maryland Senate overrode 16 vetoes on party-line votes, with Democrats supporting the overrides and Republicans voting to uphold the vetoes. The House of Delegates must act before the vetoes are overturned and the bills become law.

  • The votes to override the governor’s vetoes were the first major action taken by the Senate since Wednesday’s start of the annual 90-day legislative session. The 30-15 vote split along party lines, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
  • Lawmakers spent some time debating three public safety measures that Hogan had vetoed — SB 708, which would require at least $3 million to be set aside annually for the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program; SB 907, which would set guidelines for the Maryland State Police to coordinate with local law enforcement agencies; and SB 929, which would take responsibility for patrolling certain highways in Baltimore City away from the Baltimore Police Department and extend it to other law enforcement agencies, to make more city cops available for street patrols, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.
  • A 2020 bill that would levy fees to pay for a first-in-the-nation prescription drug affordability board passed its first hurdle Friday when the Democratic-controlled Maryland Senate overrode a veto by  Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, Bryan Sears writes for the Daily Record.

SPORTS BETTING LOBBYPALOOZA: By a margin of 2:1, Maryland voters approved a referendum to legalize sports gambling in November. The ballot question carried all 23 counties and Baltimore City. It now falls to state lawmakers to determine how the state will implement legalized sports wagering. The process of filling in the details will likely become one of the most high-profile and heavily-lobbied issues of this year’s General Assembly session, those close to the process say, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

STATE TO PAY $3.5M IN UM PLAYER’s DEATH: The family of a University of Maryland football player who died of heatstroke during a 2018 drill will receive $3.5 million under a settlement before the Board of Public Works later this month, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. The settlement between the University of Maryland, College Park, and the family of Jordan McNair is believed to be one of the largest college athletics-related settlements in the state.

COMPENSATION FOR PET INJURIES, DEATHS: Owners of pets injured or killed by an individual’s tortious act could be awarded up to $25,000 in compensatory damages – rather than the current limit of $10,000 – under legislation the House Judiciary Committee considered Friday, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.

BILL WOULD ALLOW UNION DUES TO BE DEDUCTED: House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke has introduced legislation that would allow union members to deduct their union dues from their Maryland state income taxes, Brian Griffiths of the Duckpin writes.

GOV, MRS. HOGAN TO BE VACCINATED TODAY: Gov. Larry Hogan, first lady Yumi Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford will publicly receive the coronavirus vaccine Monday morning, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun reports. The three will be inoculated at 9:30 a.m. in the governor’s reception room at the State House in Annapolis to help promote the safety and efficiency of the vaccine.

WHERE, HOW TO GET THE VACCINE: Alex Mann of the Sun puts together county by county links of how and where to get the coronavirus vaccine. It explains where to go to make appointments for the vaccine if you’re eligible to receive it.

2,414 NEW COVID CASES; 25 MORE DIE: Maryland health officials reported 2,414 new coronavirus cases Sunday, and 25 more deaths caused by the virus, Christine Condon of the Sun reports. The new data brings Maryland to 326,445 cases and 6,394 deaths during the pandemic. On Saturday, the state reported the second death of a child under 10-years-old resulting from the virus.

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations in Frederick County were the highest Sunday than at any previous time during the pandemic. On Sunday, there are 71 patients with COVID-19 and nine patients in intensive care at Frederick Health Hospital. A week ago, there were 65 people in the hospital for COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care, the previous high, Hannah Himes of the Frederick News-Post.
  • With 549 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Saturday, Montgomery County marked its 10th consecutive day with more than 300 new cases. On only one day this month, Jan. 5, has the county recorded less than 300 cases, Bethesda Beat reports.

HOGAN DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY: Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Friday, in advance of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Amid concerns about violence in the nation’s capitol and state capitols, the governor’s declaration is a procedural step that allows the state to tap its emergency resources, including the Maryland National Guard, within Maryland from Saturday through Thursday, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

MARYLAND GUARD JOIN INAUGURATION PROTECTION: Thousands of National Guard troops are in Washington, D.C., protecting the Capitol and the surrounding area in anticipation of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, Heather Mongilio of the Capital Gazette reports. Guardsmen have arrived from several states around the D.C. area, including Maryland.

CLIMATE ACTION STRATEGIES & ENVIRONMENTAL PRIORITIES:  Past policy choices have affected Maryland’s environment and may have long-term climate impacts. Join the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) on January 25, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, to hear from local legislators regarding potential policy solutions to meet clean energy and carbon reduction goals, during the first session of MCEC’s 2021 Policy Watch Series. Advance registration is required.

THURGOOD MARSHALL’s BIBLE PART OF HARRIS SWEARING-IN: Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice. Harris will also use two Bibles for the swearing-in, one of which belonged to West Baltimore-born Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice, Alexandra Jaffe of the AP reports.

RASKIN ON IMPEACHMENT: Rep. Jamie Raskin, who will lead the prosecution of President Donald Trump during an eventual second impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, told Jake Tapper of the CNN “State of the Union” show that Trump’s actions related to the Jan. 6 insurrection are the “most serious presidential crime in the history of the United States of America.” Christine Condone writes the story for the Sun.

  • Raskin also said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still “organizing the formal transfer” and it “should be coming up soon,” writes Mark Moore of the New York Post.

BREAKING PLEDGE, U.S. REP. HARRIS TO RUN FOR 7th TERM: A decade after pledging to voters that he would serve no more than six terms if elected to Congress, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris said Saturday he plans to seek a seventh term, writes Jeff Barker for the Sun. “Look, the situation is very different from then. No one would have anticipated that we have the pushback from liberals and socialists that we had then,” said Harris, a Republican, in an interview on WBAL radio.

UPROAR OVER ABERDEEN POLICE CHIEF’s SON AT TRUMP RIOT: John Woodrow Cox, Hannah Natanson and Julie Tate of the Post report how the town of Aberdeen is torn over the fact that the son of the town’s police chief attended and bragged about being at the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

ARUNDEL LAWMAKERS TAP LEADERS: Legislative colleagues tapped four Anne Arundel County lawmakers for leadership positions in the 2021 Maryland General Assembly session, Danielle Ohl of the Capital Gazette reports.

MARYLAND MAN EXECUTED: As President Donald Trump’s final days in office wound down, what has been called the machinery of death sped up. When Dustin John Higgs was executed early Saturday morning for a 1996 triple murder in Prince George’s County, he became the third federal inmate to be put to death in as many days and the 13th in the last six months of Trump’s presidency, Jean Marbella of the Sun reports.

POLICE PRESENCE, NO UNREST IN ANNAPOLIS: There was quiet in downtown Annapolis with a visible police presence Sunday as officials around the country issued warnings of possible unrest aimed at state capitals in the wake of last week’s insurrection. A dozen or more Maryland State Police vehicles could be seen circling the streets around the State House for most of the day, Rick Hutzell and Donovan Conaway report in the Capital Gazette.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

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 news outlet, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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