State Roundup: Electric grid problems; MoCo property tax hike proposed

State Roundup: Electric grid problems; MoCo property tax hike proposed

NATION’S LARGEST ENERGY GRID NEEDS FIXING: The nation’s largest grid operator is warning that it might not have enough electric generation in the future to guarantee reliability. And it comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission convenes a forum on the multibillion-dollar capacity market PJM operates to ensure there’s enough power to meet demand even during grid emergencies, such as during Winter Storm Elliott last year. PJM coordinates the flow of electricity from gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and other types of generation through power lines in all or part of 13 states, including Maryland, and D.C., an area that includes 65 million people. Robert Zullo/Maryland Matters

MoCo BUDGET INCLUDES PROPERTY TAX HIKE: Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is proposing a $6.8 billion budget that fully funds the public schools’ request for an increase of $296 million. That would put the operating budget for Montgomery County Public Schools at $3.2 billion. In order to do that, county residents could have to dig deeper in their pockets. Elrich proposes an increase of .1% in the county property tax rate. At a news conference, Elrich said, “There is a correlation between not spending money on education and results. If we want the best in this county, then we have to be willing to pay what it takes to get the best.” Kate Ryan WTOP radio

  • Elrich on Wednesday proposed a 10-cent property tax increase that, if approved by the County Council, would provide an additional $220 million for public schools this upcoming year, officials said. Steve Bohnel/MoCo 360

PROBLEMS AT STATE’S HOME FOR VETS: Reports of abuse at a St. Mary’s County nursing home for veterans is causing the state to end a two-decade old contract with a South Carolina company. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Wednesday that the troubles at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home came to his attention the day he was sworn in. Complaints including abuse and fights between residents required immediate attention, he said. “As both a combat veteran and the state’s commander in chief, I am both personally disturbed and professionally enraged to learn of the level of disregard that has been given to the treatment of these patriots,” Moore said. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters

WIND POWER ADVOCATES RALLY ON A WINDY DAY:  Wind energy advocates got a lift for their cause from the breezy conditions for their rally Wednesday, as their materials were swept off seats and scattered on Lawyer’s Mall. Jamie DeMarco, Maryland Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, led the rally in support of the Promotion of Offshore Wind Energy Resource Act. Advocates are trying to assure it passes the House or Senate before missing Monday’s crossover deadline makes its success less likely. “We showed up for wind, wind showed up for us,” advocates chanted. Dorothy Hood, Capital News Service in Maryland Reporter

 SEN. KAGAN HAS EIGHT BILLS ON ELECTIONS: One would speed up the counting of mailed ballots; another would give unaffiliated parties the right to change the day before a primary; others cure problems that came up in the last election. By Christin Zhu of Capital News Service/ Maryland Reporter

OPINION: SPECIAL ED APPEALS SHOULD NOT PUT BURDEN OF PROOF ON SCHOOLS: A current bill in the Maryland General Assembly (HB294/ SB926) would shift the burden of proof against school districts in disputes over student special education plans. That’s a bad idea. Such hearings typically arise after a family alleges that a district has failed to provide a student with special education services up to a federal standard. These are often complicated disputes, involving voluminous evidence and bringing under scrutiny a long course of conduct by the school district. In Maryland, the rule is that the complainant seeking legal relief bears the legal burden of showing that the complaint is valid. Walter Olson/Maryland Reporter

PROGRESS ON POT LEGISLATION: As the General Assembly enters the final weeks of its 90-day session, here’s how the debate to prop up a legal cannabis market is shaping up. Work on the bill began last summer with several key members of the House of Delegates and the Senate meeting nearly twice monthly to study how other states set up their markets and what pitfalls they encountered. The 100-page bill being considered by the legislature marks the end of nearly decade-long journey toward legalization. Ovetta Wiggins/Washington Post

PG PRO-BUSINESS PAC RAISES FUNDS: Annapolis isn’t accustomed to a high-dollar political fundraiser during the General Assembly session. Statewide elected officials and all 188 members of the legislature are barred from raising money during the 90-day session. And yet, elected officials and high rollers gathered Wednesday evening for a fundraiser for a newish entity known as the Prince George’s Now PAC. That’s a pro-business political action committee constructed from the ashes of an older political organization, the Jobs 1st PAC, which attempted to influence the Prince George’s County Council elections of 2022. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

 WHERE’S ROY McGRATH? The Florida home of Roy McGrath, ex-chief staff for former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, was raided Wednesday morning by law enforcement officers. Video obtained by the Naples News Now shows officers walking into his home as the manhunt continues after he failed to show up to his federal trial on Monday. Mike Hellgren/WJZ TV

BRIDGES WILL CLOSE FOR CRANES: Three cranes that have been at the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal since its opening begin the journey to their new home Thursday. To avoid distracting drivers on the Francis Scott Key and Chesapeake Bay bridges, state officials will temporarily halt traffic as the large machines are carried under them. The Post Panamax-style container cranes, which have been at the terminal since 1990, will be carried out on the Chesapeake Bay by a large vessel and head to their eventual destination at Ports America terminal at the Port of Tampa, according to officials. Penelope Blackwell/Baltimore Banner

BLAST AT SEWAGE TREAT PLANT: The explosion and fire that struck the Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant Wednesday will have long-term ramifications for the problem-plagued, Baltimore-owned facility. The plant is responsible for processing fully 70% of Back River’s sludge, meaning the city will now have to scramble to find a way to dispose of mountains of human waste “biosolids.” At 11:30 this morning, an explosion ripped through the silo-shaped Pelletech Facility, punching a hole through one side of the structure. Mark Reuter/Baltimore Brew

 QUESTIONS ON STATE POLICE APPOINTMENT: Questions have been raised about the timeline of Gov. Wes Moore’s nomination of Lt. Col. Roland Butler to lead the Maryland State Police. Gov. Moore publicly announced Butler’s nomination on Feb. 23 during a news conference in Annapolis. In an email obtained by FOX45 News, Moore’s secretary of appointments made note of a 45-day cooling off window outlining the necessary time Butler needed to wait between his retirement and re-hire to earn his state pension. The email was sent by Tisha Edwards, Moore’s appointment secretary, hours before Moore made Butler’s announcement public. Mikenzie Frost/WBFF TV

FREE LUNCH FOR ALL STUDENTS: Lots of kids look forward to lunchtime at school. Some don’t. That’s because their families don’t make enough to afford it – but they make too much to be on free lunch. An effort in the Maryland legislature is trying to change that. In Annapolis Wednesday night, a rally urged lawmakers to make school meals free – no matter how much money their families make. Free meals were available for all students during the pandemic – that stopped when federal funding ended. Jack Watson/WMAR TV

NICK MOSBY TO RUN AGAIN: Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby told WBAL tv 11 News that he is seeking re-election. Mosby spoke first with 11 News on Wednesday about his priorities for a second term, accomplishments and regrets, and he addressed recent controversy involving his office. “Clearly, it’s been challenging times, not only in the city of Baltimore, but you know, personally, there’s been a lot of challenges that they’ve been very public,” Mosby said in a video interview. Kate Amara/WBAL TV

A THIRD OF MoCo LEGISLATORS WERE APPOINTED: In recent months, more than 20 members of Montgomery County’s Democratic Central Committee have been busy appointing members to fill three legislative vacancies in Maryland’s State House. The openings have been the result of elected legislators being named to Gov. Wes Moore’s administration, and those selected by the committee for those openings will not face voters for nearly four years. The appointment process is a common way for contenders to enter the state House or Senate. The county’s Central Committee members vote on who to fill the legislative vacancies, and send their recommendations to the governor to approve. Twelve of the current 34 state delegates and senators in Montgomery County applied through the appointment process to get to their post (roughly 35%), according to an analysis by MoCo360. Steve Bohnel/MCo 360

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.

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