State Roundup: Moore urges tax breaks for military retirees and mandates Minority Business Enterprise reports; ex-campaign treasurer is charged with stealing over $140,000

State Roundup: Moore urges tax breaks for military retirees and mandates Minority Business Enterprise reports; ex-campaign treasurer is charged with stealing over $140,000

Gov. Wes Moore testifies Thursday in support of tax breaks for veterans in the House Ways and Means Committee. Governor's Office photo

GOVERNOR URGES GIVING MILITARY RETIREES A BREAK: Gov. Wes Moore said a bill that would give military retirees a larger tax break would save veteran families in Maryland about $30 million annually. “The true benefit of this bill is that it’ll keep people … here inside the state of Maryland,” he said Thursday in testimony supporting the legislation. The Keep Our Heroes Home Act has 69 sponsors in the House. Kara Thompson of Capital News Service/

  • Moore’s appearance before lawmakers on Thursday marked the first time in more than eight years that a governor publicly lobbied in the General Assembly for the passage of his policies. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard) opened the meeting by saying Moore’s appearance indicated his willingness to work with the General Assembly. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun
  • Several representatives of veterans groups and the AARP testified in favor of the bill. Although the legislation enjoys broad bipartisan support in concept, General Assembly leaders have indicated that the governor’s proposal might be changed. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner

MOORE MANDATES MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISE REPORTS: Gov. Wes Moore signed an executive order Thursday to require state agencies to report data to assess the performance of the state’s Minority Business Enterprise program. Maryland established the program in 1978 to increase participation for minority- and women-owned firms in state government procurement. The state has consistently failed to meet its 29% MBE goal. Associated Press/The Baltimore Sun

  • The executive order states that participating agencies must report on the number of procurement bids they have put out and the value of those bids. The order requires the Maryland Department of Transportation to compile a report on the exact number of certified minority businesses in each of the state’s 24 jurisdictions. The DOT also must specify how many of those businesses are owned by African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, women or disabled entrepreneurs. Tashi McQueen and Alexis Taylor/The Afro

EX-TREASURER CHARGED WITH STEALING CAMPAIGN FUNDS: A Baltimore County political operative, the subject of a dozen Baltimore Brew investigative stories, was charged Thursday with embezzling over $140,000 from two campaign accounts for which he served as treasurer. William Christopher “Chris” McCollum, 52, is accused of stealing funds from the Baltimore County Victory Slate — controlled by former Baltimore County Executive James “Jim” T. Smith Jr. — and Friends of Cathy Bevins, the campaign arm of the former Middle River councilwoman, according to Maryland Prosecutor Charlton Howard. Mark Reutter/Baltimore Brew

  • The state prosecutor charged McCollum with multiple counts of theft, embezzlement and perjury. The charges allege that McCollum embezzled more than $111,000 from the Friends of Cathy Bevins fund and more than $31,000 from the Baltimore County Victory Slate without the candidates’ knowledge. Madeleine O’Neill/The Daily Record
  • Members of the Baltimore County Victory Slate have included Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and his father, former county Councilman John Olszewski Sr., council Chair Julian Jones, state Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger and Bevins, according to online campaign finance records. A Baltimore County spokesperson said in a statement that Olszewski’s administration “was not aware of these allegations” during McCollum’s employment with the county. Taylor DeVille/The Baltimore Banner

BILL AIMS TO PROTECT JUVENILE DEFENDANTS: Lawmakers are working on legislation they say would protect children in the criminal justice system. The Youth Equity and Safety Act would ensure no children enter the criminal justice system through adult criminal court, as currently happens automatically with older teens facing certain serious charges. Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City), a co-sponsor of the bill, said it simply shifts the burden of proof that a child should face adult criminal charges from the defense to the prosecution. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun

  • Jenny Egan, chief attorney for the juvenile division of the public defender’s office in Baltimore, urged the Senate committee to end the “inhuman” and “racist” policy of automatically charging children in adult court, which occurs most often when the offender is a person of color. The Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association opposed the repeal, telling the Senate committee that the current system, though flawed, achieves substantial justice. Steve Lash/The Daily Record

FOUR-DAY WORK WEEK BILL IS DEBATED: Maryland Del. Vaughan Stewart (D-Montgomery) told the House Economic Matters Committee that a proposed pilot program for a 32-hour work week for private businesses in the state would be “a game changer” for recruitment and retention. But some lawmakers remained skeptical, with Del. Mark Fisher (R-Calvert) calling bill HB 0181 “all unicorns and pots of gold, from what we’re hearing.” Greg Morton of Capital News Service/

ANNE ARUNDEL CO. EXAMINES DIVERSITY: As Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman begins his second four-year term, he’s tasked his equity, diversity and inclusion director with a large undertaking: ensuring county government entities and nonprofits are providing the best possible services to all residents, including people with disabilities, people of color and members of the LBGTQ community. Dana Munro/Capital Gazette

GENDER IDENTITY LESSONS DIVIDE LAWMAKERS, PARENTS: The push to enshrine instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation into law has placed the blue state known for its liberal policies in the throes of culture-war debates about sex, gender and identity. But having Maryland lawmakers decide what is taught in health classes does not sit well with many parents or with associations representing local superintendents and school boards who view the proposal as an overreach that usurps local authority.  Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post

BILL SEEKS TAX CREDITS FOR LOCAL NEWS ADS: State Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery) said a bill he is sponsoring in the Maryland General Assembly would help support local journalism by giving a tax credit of up to $3,000 to small and medium-sized businesses that advertise in local news outlets. “Sustaining local journalism is essential to protecting our democracy,” Vogel told Capital News Service. Christine Zhu of Capital News Service/

$7.5 BILLION NEEDED TO FIX CITY’S VACANT HOME CRISIS, GROUP SAYS: An influential coalition of Baltimore’s religious leaders has an idea for a new, quasi-governmental agency that would focus solely on vacant housing and oversee billions of dollars in public money — and Mayor Brandon Scott supports the concept. Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD) said Thursday at a news conference with Scott that they agree it will take more than $7.5 billion of public and private money to solve the city’s vacant home crisis. Giacomo Bologna/The Baltimore Sun

ELECTIONS COMING IN MAY IN CARROLL CO. It’s election season again, this time for the mayors and council members in several Carroll County municipalities. Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville, Taneytown and Westminster will all hold elections in May. Sherry Greenfield/Carroll County Times

About The Author

Regina Holmes

Contributing editor Regina Holmes has worked as a journalist for over 30 years. She was an assistant business editor at the Miami Herald and an assistant city editor at Newsday in New York City, where she helped supervise coverage of 9/11, anthrax attacks and the August 2003 Northeast Blackout. As an assistant managing editor of the Baltimore Examiner, she helped launch the free tabloid in 2006. Before joining Maryland Reporter, she was the managing editor for Washington, D.C.-based Talk Media News, where she supervised digital, radio and video production of news reports for over 400 radio stations. The Baltimore native is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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