State Roundup: Franchot seeks special session to pause gas tax hike; Md. Congressional delegation banned by Russia

State Roundup: Franchot seeks special session to pause gas tax hike; Md. Congressional delegation banned by Russia

Comptroller Peter Franchot, right, is asking for a special legislative session to obtain temporary authority to pause the automatic gas tax hike. In this 2021 photo, he is seen with Gov. Larry Hogan. Governor's Office photo by Patrick Siebert.

STATUS SYMBOL: MARYLAND CONGRESSMEN BANNED FROM RUSSIA: Washington’s newest status symbol isn’t a seat at a coveted dinner party or an invitation to ride on Air Force One. Lawmakers from Maryland and other states were hoping Tuesday to spot their names on a different sort of list that similarly exudes political cachet. All eight members of the state’s U.S. House delegation appear among the 963 banned Americans, as do Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen on a list banning them from Russia. Jeff Barker/The Baltimore Sun.

FRANCHOT SEEKS SPECIAL SESSION TO PAUSE GAS TAX HIKE: Maryland’s top tax collector is urging Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic legislative leaders to call a special session to address the largest gas tax increase in a decade. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.

  • Franchot (D), a gubernatorial candidate, is calling for the special legislative session so the General Assembly could grant him authority to suspend, temporarily, the state’s largest-ever annual gas tax increase which is scheduled to take effect in July. Top state officials have passed the buck to each other on pausing the increase, which, on July 1, is expected to add another 6.6 cents to each gallon of gasoline purchased. Elizabeth Shwe/Maryland Matters.

PAYING MORE AT THE PUMP: Barring extraordinary action by the legislature and the governor, Maryland motorists will pay more at the pump in state fuel taxes. The 6.6-cent increase announced Monday by Comptroller Peter Franchot is the result of a 2013 law that all but guarantees automatic increases in the state portion of the gas tax. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.

THOUSANDS OF UNVAXXED KIDS WORRY STATE HEALTH EXPERTS: There are thousands of children across Maryland who not only haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, but also lack protection from influenza and the kinds of diseases that routine shots long ago made scarce, such as measles and chickenpox. It’s a worrisome trend for public health experts, who see a surging number of children infected with the coronavirus and fear another outbreak in particular may be on the horizon — measles. Meredith Cohn/The Baltimore Sun.

Rob Christian interviews Ronell Stephenson, left, his brother Roja, right, from prison in Ecuador.
Photo courtesy Rob Christian

MARYLAND DAD WORKS TO FREE SONS FROM ECUADOR PRISONS: Ecuador is a second home for Montgomery County resident Robert Stephenson where he rents an apartment in the capital city of Quito and met with a member of parliament during his most recent visit which concluded last week. Over the last five years, Stephenson, 69, has made over 30 trips to the South American country, investing over $1 million.  He considers it the cost of doing business to save his two sons, both imprisoned there. Steve Monteiro and Jim Pettit/Maryland Reporter.

FINKSBURG MAN CHARGED IN JAN. 6 INSURRECTION: A Finksburg man is accused of throwing a flagpole and a smoke grenade at police and assaulting an Associated Press photographer during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents released Tuesday. Colleen Slevin/The Associated Press.

PRIMARY DEBATES:  Please join Maryland Reporter’s Len Lazarick as he moderates the virtual online debate for the Democratic candidates for Maryland attorney general. Congressman Anthony Brown and Katie Curran O’Malley debate on Wednesday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. Register here. Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters moderates the debate of Democratic comptroller candidates Tim Adams and Brooke Lierman Tuesday, May 31.  Register here. And here’s the flyer. The League of Women Voters is the lead sponsor along with,, Maryland Nonprofits, Maryland Latinos Unidos and the University of Baltimore’s Schaefer Center for Public Policy, the online host.

OPINION: PEREZ WOULD MAKE ‘OUTSTANDING GOVERNOR:’ Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial primary is notable for its array of impressively credentialed candidates, including two former U.S. Cabinet secretaries; one who ran a major county; one who has held statewide office for nearly 16 years; and another who led a poverty-fighting philanthropy. Even in that distinguished field, the choice for us in the July 19 primary is clear: Tom Perez would make an outstanding governor. Editorial Board/The Washington Post.

SHALLECK TAKES DEBATE STAGE ALONE; PEROUTKA AWOL: Sometimes, when a candidate doesn’t show up for a political debate, the organizers leave an empty chair on the stage and let the opponent (or opponents) hold forth for the allotted time. James F. Shalleck wasn’t so lucky. Shalleck, one of two Republican candidates for state attorney general, was punctual for a virtual forum Tuesday night, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Maryland, a host of other sponsors, and with Len Lazarick of Maryland Reporter as moderator. But his opponent, former Anne Arundel County Councilmember Michael Anthony Peroutka, was a no-show. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

MO CO LEGISLATORS LINING UP BEHIND GOV HOPEFULS: With two months until the July 19 primary, half of Montgomery County’s 32-member all-Democratic state legislative delegation have weighed in on the gubernatorial race. And David Blair last week became the first candidate in the Montgomery County executive race to run paid TV spots, purchasing time over seven days on county cable systems. Louis Peck and Steve Bohnel/Bethesda Beat.

PITTMAN RIVAL QUESTIONS ARUNDEL MASK RECOMMENDATION: With the Republican primary election for Anne Arundel County executive a little more than a month away, Jessica Haire, one of five GOP candidates vying to face Democratic incumbent Steuart Pittman, is calling into question new county health department masking guidance. Haire argued that simply not using the word mandate doesn’t make it so. Dana Munro/The Capital Gazette.

800+ BA CO EMPLOYEES FAILED TO GET COLA RAISES: More than 800 Baltimore County employees did not receive cost-of-living raises they were due in January because of an “antiquated compensation system,” the county’s inspector general found. Alison Knezevich/The Baltimore Sun.

  • Those missing out on the pay hike were security guards, clerks, nursing aides, social workers and office assistants assigned to grades in a non-union pay schedule that are linked to a pay schedule represented by a union. The exclusion occurred across all county departments. Mark Reutter/Baltimore Brew.

MO CO’s TOP COP: MORE GUNS FUEL VIOLENCE: Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones said there are a variety of factors behind the number of homicides – 14 – that have occurred in the county so far in 2022. He’s worried about the increasing availability of guns to young people as well as planned meetings among youth on social media. And he also worries that many teens are trying to “handle” conflicts themselves, which can lead them to act out violently instead of calling authorities. Dan Schere/Bethesda Beat.

  • Montgomery County leaders are searching for answers when it comes to addressing a continuation of violent crime, especially incidents involving youths. Dan Schere/Bethesda Beat.

WA CO COMMISSIONER CANDIDATE CAMPAIGN SIGNS STOLEN: Maryland State Police confirmed Tuesday they received a report from a Washington County commissioner candidate that at least four of his campaign signs had been stolen. Candidate Derek Harvey told Herald-Mail Media on Tuesday that eight campaign signs were stolen from at least four spots. Julie Greene/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.

FREELANCERS WANTED: is looking for freelance writers to cover stories in state and local government, particularly Howard County. If interested contact editor Tim Maier at A resume and clips would be helpful if Tim is unfamiliar with your work.

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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