State Roundup: Major tax cuts for seniors pitted against school reform funding; new Purple Line contracts OK’d

State Roundup: Major tax cuts for seniors pitted against school reform funding; new Purple Line contracts OK’d

Two skyboxes at both the Orioles and Ravens stadiums are reserved for the governor and the mayor. So who gets invited? 2021 Governor's Office photo

TAX CUTS FOR SENIORS VS. HUGE SCHOOL FUNDING: A pricey, proposed tax cut for retirees in the state could come at the expense of a multibillion-dollar plan to reshape public education. Gov. Larry Hogan is pressing for a major tax cut most Maryland seniors, a proposal that would soak up money many lawmakers hope will go to education reforms recommended by the Kirwan Commission. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.

BPW OKs PURPLE LINE CONTRACTS: The state Board of Public Works unanimously green-lighted multiple contracts on Wednesday to continue planning and construction of the Purple Line light-rail project. Steve Bohnel/Bethesda Beat.

  • A $3.4 billion contract will allow full-scale construction to resume on the Purple Line this spring. The 16.2-mile, 21-station light rail system that will run between New Carrollton and Bethesda is now expected to open to riders in fall 2026. Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
  • The board approved a new contractor Wednesday to complete the long-delayed Purple Line for an additional $1.46 billion — an almost 75 percent cost increase to revive the stalled light-rail project. Katherine Shaver/The Washington Post.

ORIOLES TO GET RENT CREDIT FOR STADIUM WORK: The Orioles expect that it will cost up to $3.5 million to reconfigure the left-field wall at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, money that will be deducted from their rent over the next few years. Top state officials on Wednesday approved a plan for the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns the downtown stadium, to discount the baseball club’s rent in exchange for the work that’s being done. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Sun.

ED REFORM OVERSIGHT BOARD HIRES EXEC DIRECTOR: Maryland’s education reform oversight board has hired Rachel Hise, a legislative policy analyst, as the organization’s new executive director. The Accountability and Implementation Board is responsible for ensuring that the state and local jurisdictions fully implement the multi-billion-dollar Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reforms, which aim to close student achievement gaps and transform Maryland’s education system over the next decade. Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters.

STATE HOUSE DOME READY FOR FACELIFT: Maryland’s historic State House dome will soon get a facelift. Maryland Board of Public Works signed off on a $1.5 million contract to revamp the façade of the State House on Wednesday — the first step in an extensive $34 million restoration project. Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.

LAM RE-INTRODUCES SPECIAL ELECTIONS BILL: A perennial push to bring special elections to the Maryland General Assembly is back again in 2022. Senate Bill 73, sponsored by Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Howard County) is the latest attempt to fill legislative vacancies by election. Vacancies are currently filled by gubernatorial appointments based on party central committee nominations. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.

Hyattsville Mayor Kevin Ward was 44.
Photo from The City of Hyattsville.

MAYOR OF HYATTSVILLE DIES OF APPARENT SUICIDE: The city of Hyattsville has reported that Mayor Kevin Ward died from an apparent self-inflicted injury Tuesday. The city said Ward died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Zeke Hartner/WTOP-FM.

  • “The First Lady and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Hyattsville Mayor Kevin Ward,” Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan tweeted. “We extend our most heartfelt condolences to the Ward family and the people of Hyattsville as they grieve this tragic loss.” Andrew Mark Miller/Fox News.
  • Ward (D), a two-term city council member who was elected to lead the Maryland community last year, died Tuesday. Ward, 44, was found in Fort Marcy Park in McLean with an apparent “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. Park Police. Rachel Chason and Katie Mettler/The Washington Post.
  • The Post also published this: If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

CLEAN ENERGY RECEPTION: The Maryland Clean Energy Center’s 2022 Legislative Reception will feature guest legislators and speakers, with a featured panel to discuss Energy & the Built Environment: Strategies Aimed at Addressing Climate Change. This panel session will examine the challenges, opportunities, and recommendations related to building de-carbonization to achieve demand reduction goals from the perspective of consumers, industry, and utilities. Tickets are on sale now for this hybrid event on Feb. 17, with an in-person luncheon in Annapolis. All registrants will receive program recordings.

OPINION: HOGAN COULD BEAT VAN HOLLEN: Writing in an opinion piece for Maryland Reporter, David Reel, of the public affairs and strategic communications consulting Quantum Communications, writes that, although Gov. Larry Hogan says that he isn’t interested in serving in the U.S. Senate and doesn’t intend to run against Sen. Chris Van Hollen, there are plenty of good reasons he actually could win.

CHALLENGE IN GOP DISTRICT 36 DELEGATE RACE: A Cecil County councilmember closely aligned with County Executive Danielle Hornberger (R) has filed to enter the Republican House primary in District 36, posing a direct threat to the three GOP incumbents who are running as a team. At the same time, Hornberger’s husband, state Del. Kevin C. Hornberger (R), is preparing to introduce legislation that would change the way legislative elections are decided in District 36. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

COVID NUMBERS DROP IN B’MORE SCHOOLS, MO CO: The number of reported cases of COVID-19 in the Baltimore County Public Schools is dropping fast. School officials said last week they saw a 60% reduction in cases among both students and employees. John Lee/WYPR-FM.

  • COVID-19 cases are down precipitously in Montgomery County, but the county executive and health officials on Wednesday said it’s too soon to pop Champagne. Rick Massimo/WTOP-FM.

LOOKING FOR COMMENTARY, ANALYSIS: Maryland Reporter is looking to publish more commentary and analysis on issues about state government and politics from all points of view – left, center and right. If you have an opinion or analysis piece you’d like to see published, contact The commentary needs to be exclusive to Maryland Reporter and 500 to 800 words long.

MARC ELRICH ON SEEKING RE-ELECTION: Incumbent Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich talks about the state of Montgomery County among other topics, in this 2nd in a series on the candidates for that seat. He starts off by talking about opponent and fellow progressive Tom Hucker. Louis Peck/Bethesda Beat.

TOM HUCKER ON MO CO EXEC CANDIDACY: In this third part of a series on the candidates for Montgomery County executive, County Councilman Tom Hucker talks about why he decided to run when he wasn’t yet term-limited on the council and how he views Montgomery County as a leader in policy and “key issues of the day.” Louis Peck/Bethesda Beat.

PUGH RELEASED FROM PRISON: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh is out of prison. According the Bureau Of U.S. Prisons, Pugh has been placed at a residential re-entry management facility in Baltimore. Staff/WMAR-TV.

  • Pugh transferred from the Federal Correctional Institution in Aliceville, Ala., yesterday to “community confinement,” overseen by the bureau’s Baltimore Residential Reentry Management office, spokesman Donald Murphy said. Fern Shen/Baltimore Brew.
  • Pugh, the city’s mayor from 2016 to 2019, was sentenced to three years behind bars after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion charges in a self-dealing scheme involving her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. She reported to Aliceville Federal Prison, a low security facility in Alabama, in June 2020. Christine Condon and Emily Opilo/The Baltimore Sun.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

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 newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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