PUSH TOWARD CROSSOVER DAY, LAWMAKERS RUSH THROUGH BILLS: Maryland lawmakers will hit a key deadline Monday that kicks off the final stretch of their annual 90-day session and makes much clearer which bills are likely to pass — or fail — before time runs out. Sam Janesch and Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
- Facing looming deadlines and with scores of legislation up in the air, Maryland delegates convened Saturday in Annapolis for a weekend bill-passing session. The 141-member House met for several hours to cram through a slew of bills before Monday’s “crossover day.” Lawmakers erupted in applause after the passage of the Trans Health Equity Act, which stirred up controversy among House Republicans, on a 93-37 vote. Hannah Gaskill and Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
- Republicans in the chamber introduced a couple of amendments to attempt to curtail the legislation, but those were voted down. While the bill generated significant debate, it changes state policy only modestly. Danielle Gaines and Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
MILLIONS MORE FOR ED REFORM PLAN: Maryland’s landmark education reform plan would get hundreds of millions of dollars more than anticipated, while reserves for future unspecified transportation projects would diminish under a state budget plan advanced by lawmakers Friday. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
- The House of Delegates passed a nearly $62.5 billion budget plan Friday, with nearly $1 billion in additional funding directed to state education reform efforts. The House version of the budget bill would shift $400 million from the transportation column and direct it to the Blueprint, for a $900 million influx. Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
CARROLL SCHOOLS TO DISCUSS ENROLLMENT ESTIMATES: During the first of two town hall-style meetings Monday, Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia McCabe said staff will discuss updated class size estimates based on CCPS budgetary constraints related to implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Thomas Goodwin Smith/The Carroll County Times.
BILLS PUSH FREE SCHOOL MEALS, ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS: Two Montgomery County high school seniors traveled to Annapolis last week to encourage Maryland lawmakers pass bills that would provide free breakfast and lunch in all of the state’s public schools starting in fiscal year 2025. And Sen. Alonzo Washington (D-Prince George’s) testified Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee on a bill that would allocate $8.5 million for an education and recreational enrichment program targeting those ages 4 to 19 for programs to take place before and after school, on weekends, and during holiday periods and summer breaks. William Ford/Maryland Matters.
PSC INVESTIGATES RETAIL ENERGY SUPPLIERS AFTER RECORD COMPLAINTS: The Maryland Public Service Commission is investigating a number of retail energy suppliers following a record-high number of consumer complaints about questionable practices. Tori Leonard, communications director of the Public Service Commission, the agency that regulates electric and gas utilities and looks after ratepayers’ interests, confirmed that the commission officially launched the enforcement action on Feb. 1 “to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute retail energy suppliers who are failing to abide by the state’s laws and regulations” and, if necessary, “revoke supplier licenses.” Aman Azhar, Inside Climate News/The Baltimore Banner.
***BOARD OPENINGS FOR MONTGOMERY AND PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY RESIDENTS: The Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has openings for residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties on the ERS Board of Trustees; one vacancy for each county. The term of appointment is July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2026. Anyone interested who is a resident of the county to which they want to represent must submit a Letter of Interest and resume of qualifications, received no later than close of business on April 7, 2023. Visit our website,https://www.mncppc.org/1644/Employees-Retirement-System for a Board of Trustee Candidate Packet.***
RAPE REPORTS FROM BALTIMORE COUNTY GAVE PUBLIC LOWER NUMBER: There were 185 rape cases when the Baltimore County Police Department reported their official 2022 crime statistics to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But when annual crime figures made their way to the public, almost half the rape cases had disappeared — the number was now 90. Nick Thieme and Taylor DeVille/The Baltimore Banner.
BILL WOULD ALLOW SOME NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS TO WORK AT CASINOS: A new bill in Maryland would make it possible for people convicted of specific nonviolent crimes to get jobs at local casinos. “These are opportunities that help create a change within our community,” Maryland Del. Nick Charles from Prince George’s County said. Valerie Bonk/WTOP-FM
HUNT FOR McGRATH GOES INTO THE WEEKEND: The manhunt for Roy McGrath stretches into the weekend with no indication that federal authorities have leads to the whereabouts of the fugitive former Maryland official. Tim Prudente and Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
MOORE CONTINUES PUSH FOR YEAR OF SERVICE: More than halfway through his first 90-day legislative session as governor, Wes Moore is doubling down on starting a program this year that he wants to become “as common an option and as common a part of the vernacular as any other option” that someone finishing their high school education would consider. Ethan Ehrenhaft and Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
MOORE SENDS 67 NOMINEES FOR SENATE OK: Gov. Wes Moore (D) sent to the state Senate on Friday the names of 67 nominees to serve on state boards and commissions. The Senate has been churning through nominees for the new governor’s Cabinet and other state positions since mid-February, and the confirmation process will continue through the scheduled end of the General Assembly session on April 10. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
COMMENTARY: RED FLAGS OVER CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCOTT CAMPAIGN: What do the optics of the timing and sources of off-year campaign contributions to The People for Brandon M. Scott suggest? Are the contributions we’re going to talk about nothing more than people and companies interested in supporting good government? Or are they effectively payments by special interests in return for favorable treatment by the candidate they are funding? Les Cohen/The Baltimore Post Examiner.
COMMENTARY: HOWARD COUNTY NEEDS AN INSPECTOR GENERAL: A recent controversy in Howard County concerning the alleged misuse of a local public library has caused division among Howard County citizens. … Good people on both sides of the issue are digging their heels in — unfortunately along racial lines. Howard County, with its immense, billion-dollar-plus budget has no Inspector General, who would serve as the people’s advocate to the government. Perhaps it’s time that Howard County appointed an IG. Bernie Flowers/Maryland Reporter.com.
COHEN TO RUN FOR B’MORE COUNCIL PREZ AGAINST NICK MOSBY: Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen will run for council president, setting up the first competitive matchup for a top city office in 2024. “Fundamentally, I believe Baltimore deserves better,” Cohen said last week during an interview. Cohen joins incumbent Council President Nick Mosby in the Democratic primary in April 2024. Emily Opilo and Dan Belson/The Baltimore Sun.
- Pointing to hundreds of millions of dollars of federal stimulus money and a roster of new leadership in Annapolis with close Baltimore ties, Cohen said that dysfunction and chaos persist at City Hall despite a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make progress. Emily Sullivan/The Baltimore Banner.