HOGAN NIXES RUN FOR U.S. SENATE: Gov. Larry Hogan, R, announced Tuesday that he will not run for the U.S. Senate, ending the Republican Party’s best chance of flipping the seat now held by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. His surprise announcement at the end of a press conference touting the state’s continued recovery from the omicron variant put to bed two years of speculation of a Hogan candidacy after a campaign by national GOP leaders to lure him into the race. Stephen Neukam/Capital News Service in Maryland Reporter.
- The second-term governor’s decision was a setback in the GOP’s fight to seize the U.S. Senate majority this fall. The Senate is deadlocked 50-50, but Democrats control the chamber because Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaking vote. Jeff Barker and Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Sun.
- Hogan said he notified Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who runs the Senate’s election campaign arm, that he would not run. He also told Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who had encouraged him. Erin Cox/The Washington Post.
- With Hogan unpersuaded by McConnell’s pitches, McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, a Cabinet member in the Trump and George W. Bush administrations, also encouraged a Senate bid during a lunch with Hogan’s wife in the Maryland governor’s mansion. Steven Peoples and Brian Witte/The Associated Press.
- Even as he closed the door on a Senate run this cycle, the governor acknowledged that “it would be difficult for just about anyone else” from his party to challenge Van Hollen successfully. For now, the leading Republican candidate appears to be James Tarantin, a 36-year-old immigrant from Israel who owns a merchandising company. Bruce DePuyt/Maryland Matters.
BILL WOULD EXPAND PUBLIC FINANCING TO MORE OFFICE SEEKERS: State lawmakers are considering a bill that could lead to public financing opportunities to candidates for courthouse positions and county boards of education. House Bill 488, sponsored by Del. Jessica M. Feldmark (D-Howard), would allow local governments to expand public campaign finance programs to include more elected offices after the program is available for at least one election cycle to county council and county executive candidates. Bennett Leckrone/Maryland Matters.
HOGAN AGAIN PUSHES FOR HARSHER SENTENCES ON FIREARMS LAWS: Maryland’s House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a pair of emergency bills introduced by Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. (R) that would publicize judicial sentencing data and impose harsher sentences for repeat firearms violations. Hannah Gaskill/Maryland Matters.
BOOSTER SHOT CAMPAIGN REVIVED: Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he plans to launch a promotional campaign aiming to persuade more people to get a booster shot against COVID-19, and also relaunch a lottery to reward people who do opt for the extra shot. Meredith Cohn and Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Sun.
- The “Vax Cash 2.0” drawing, with money coming from lottery proceeds, will run for 12 weeks. The first drawing, scheduled Feb. 15, a winner would receive $500,000. In Weeks 2 through 11, each person will receive $50,000. William Ford/The Washington Informer.
OPINION: AFFORDABLE HEALTH COVERAGE AVAILABLE: Amid the pandemic, many people knew that if they got sick or injured, they might not be able to afford the care they need. The state recently extended the deadline to sign up for health insurance on the state’s online exchange until Feb. 28. As you look for coverage you may be surprised at the cost of premiums. In some cases, coverage is free; for many others, public subsidies make the cost of health insurance affordable. Nine out of 10 people who sign up for insurance on the state exchange get some subsidies. Howard County Executive Calvin Ball/Maryland Reporter.
SPEAKER JONES CREATES ‘PROGRESSIVE FORUM’ FOR DEM CAUCUS: House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) told her colleagues Tuesday that she is creating a “Progressive Policy Forum” within the House Democratic Caucus, to organize policy conversations and bring in state and national experts to discuss pressing issues and help develop a long-term agenda. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
CLEAN ENERGY RECEPTION: Guest speakers and legislators will discuss the climate and energy priorities for policy and regulation under consideration by the Maryland General Assembly during the Maryland Clean Energy Center’s Legislative Reception on Feb. 17, 2022. Featured panels will focus on Energy & the Built Environment: Strategies Aimed at Addressing Climate Change and Innovation & Regulation: Shooting Toward Energy Targets in Maryland. Advance registration is required for this hybrid format event, and ticket sales to attend onsite close this week.
STATE’s CHIEF PUBLIC DEFENDER TO RETIRE: Paul B. DeWolfe, whose name will be forever linked to the right of Maryland defendants to have counsel at initial bail hearings, will step down on June 30 after more than 12 years as the state’s chief public defender. Steve Lash/The Daily Record.
BIDEN TAPS 6 FOR NAVAL ACADEMY BOARD OF VISITORS: President Joe Biden has appointed six new members of the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors, including two former academy commandants and the son of late Sen. John McCain, the White House announced Monday. All six new members are Naval Academy graduates: Gen. John R. Allen, Paul J. Angelo, Robert E. Clark II, Admiral Michelle J. Howard, Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain IV and Lt. Col. Amy McGrath. Brooks DuBose/The Capital Gazette.
MARYLANDERS FOR AFFORDABLE RX: Marylanders for Affordable Rx is educating policymakers and the public on the real reasons behind high prescription drug costs and exposing special interests that are out to pad their bottom line at the expense of Maryland’s hardworking people. Across the country and in our state, we see special interests, like Big Pharma and the independent pharmacy lobby, push agendas that would make it harder for patient advocates like pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs. Learn more and help us stop special interests from increasing our Rx costs.
BA CO REBUTS REDISTRICTING SUIT: Baltimore County has asked a federal judge to reject a legal challenge to its redistricting map. In papers filed Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, attorneys for the county argue the council district map drawn by the County Council does not dilute Black voting strength. John Lee/WYPR-FM.
MO CO HIRES 1st BLACK WOMAN SCHOOLS SUPER: Montgomery County voted to hire its first woman as schools superintendent — an African American educator who was a leader during the pandemic — a milestone in Maryland’s largest school system and another marker of its ever-increasing diversity. Donna St. George/The Washington Post.
- Following the unanimous vote by the school board approving her appointment, an emotional Monifa McKnight, who was interim superintendent, said she plans to focus on recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and working to support students’ and staff members’ physical and emotional well-being. Caitlynn Peetz/Bethesda Beat.
HOWARD COUNCIL TELLS SOME EMPLOYERS TO RECALL WORKERS: The Howard County Council approved 4-1 Monday a bill that requires some employers to recall to work certain employees who were laid off due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Katie V. Jones/Baltimore Sun Media.
BLOCK CLUB OWNERS SAY LAWMAKERS OWNED BY DEVELOPERS: Club owners in Baltimore’s adult entertainment zone say the current crackdown on The Block is nothing more than a land grab by developers – and lawmakers who are in their pocket. Not true, says Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, who has sponsored a bill to close the raunchy row of bars and strip joints at 10 p.m. Fern Shen/Baltimore Brew.
BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY WISHES: Feb. 3: Health Secretary Dennis Schrader; Feb. 4: Sen. Brian Feldman; Feb. 5: Del. Matt Morgan and Sen. Will Smith; Feb. 7: Dels. Ned Carey and Veronica Turner.