State Roundup: lawmakers amend many of Moore’s bills; court transparency bill is rejected again; Md. Senate debates hiking Ocean City hotel tax 1%

State Roundup: lawmakers amend many of Moore’s bills; court transparency bill is rejected again; Md. Senate debates hiking Ocean City hotel tax 1%

Gov. Wes Moore, a former captain in the Army's 82nd Airborne, addresses the bipartisan Legislative Veterans Caucus for breakfast at Government House Thursday morning, Governor's Office photo by Joe Andrucyk.

LAWMAKERS AMEND, COMBINE AND SLASH MOORE’S BILLS: Gov. Wes Moore — two months into an administration that he promised would move boldly, yet cautiously — is both racking up wins and coming up short. The first-time politician entered office with ambitious goals like ending child poverty and making major investments in transportation infrastructure and education. Lawmakers are poised to pass all 10 of the governor’s bills but many of them have been scaled down. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun

COURT TRANSPARENCY BILL IS REJECTED AGAIN: In a 20-page report released this week, Howard University law students urged Maryland lawmakers to pass a law that would mandate public virtual access to court proceedings. The students sat in on Prince George’s County bail review hearings where they said they witnessed judges violate the rights of defendants. Their findings were published online and distributed to lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly on the same day that the state Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee effectively killed a court transparency bill that would have mandated all Maryland courtrooms give the public virtual access to most court proceedings. Katie Mettler/The Washington Post

SENATE DEBATES HIKING HOTEL TAX ON EASTERN SHORE BY 1%: A bill that would allow counties on the Eastern Shore to hike their hotel tax rates by 1% faces an uncertain future after a debate in the Maryland Senate. The bill would have amounted to a nearly $5 million tax on Maryland residents who vacation in Ocean City, Montgomery County Sen. Benjamin F. Kramer (D-Montgomery) said on Wednesday, as he questioned the policy on the Senate floor. Danielle Gaines & Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

U.S. JUDGE UPHOLDS ANNE ARUNDEL’S GUN DEALER LAW: A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Anne Arundel County did not violate the Constitution in passing legislation requiring gun dealers to distribute suicide prevention and harm reduction pamphlets. The legislation, unanimously passed by the county council in January 2022, required gun dealers to distribute pamphlets featuring a suicide hotline phone number, gun safety tips and information on gun locks. Dana Munro/Capital Gazette

CAPITOL RIOTER SENTENCED TO 3 YEARS: A Pennsylvania woman who was accused — but not convicted — of aiding in the theft of a computer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for a half-dozen other crimes after a prosecutor described her as “among the worst” of the rioters that day. Riley J. Williams, 24, who was found guilty of six offenses last November in U.S. District Court in Washington, apologized at her sentencing for being “disrespectful, hateful and angry at innocent people” during the Jan. 6 mayhem. Paul Duggan/ The Washington Post

GAMBLING’S REVENUE FOR SCHOOLS VS. COSTS OF ADDICTION: Is the extra revenue from gambling worth the price of addiction? Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-Baltimore County) was one of the lead proponents of legislation that allowed the state’s voters to overwhelmingly approve sports betting in 2020. Salling said he likes the idea of gambling revenue going to fund Maryland’s schools, but nevertheless expressed concern that gambling addiction is a major problem that needs to be addressed with more resources. Bryan Renbaum/Baltimore Post-Examiner

REDACTION OF NAMES IN CATHOLIC ABUSE SCANDAL IS NOT UNUSUAL: A public reckoning might be the only form of justice available to hundreds of people who reported that they are survivors of sexual abuse and torture, a Baltimore judge wrote last month when he ordered the release of a 456-page grand jury report into the Catholic Church. But a court battle over whether to permanently redact the names of some in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who are accused of committing or enabling abuse could leave the city short of that reckoning. A look at how similar investigations played out in other states shows this could be a pivotal moment. Meredith Cohn and Dylan Seigelbaum/The Baltimore Banner

CAN B’MORE’S EMPTY OFFICES BECOME HOMES?: Office space in downtown Baltimore has a 20% vacancy rate and landlords there face competition from newer office space elsewhere in the city. Developers and brokers said plenty of those downtown buildings could be converted into homes, but these projects aren’t easy. Giacomo Bologa/The Baltimore Sun

ADVOCATES OF GENDER-AFFIRMING BILL SAY IT COULD SAVE LIVES: Advocates call passage of the Trans Health Equity Act by both chambers a victory that could save the lives of transgender community members. The bill would require Maryland Medicaid to cover gender-affirming care and procedures for transgender patients. The legislation does not change the state’s existing Medicaid policy of not operating on transgender youth. John-John Williams IV/The Baltimore Banner

CARROLL CO. PASSES OPERATING BUDGET WITH $24 MILLION INCREASE: Carroll County’s director of management and budget, Ted Zaleski, on Thursday presented a recommended $525.3 million county operating budget for fiscal 2024, which starts July 1. The Board of Carroll County Commissioners unanimously adopted the recommended budget, which is an increase of $24 million over the current fiscal 2023 operating budget approved last May. Sherry Greenfield/Carroll County Times

MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO TRYING TO BLACKMAIL ALDERMAN, THREATENING FAMILY: An Annapolis man who attempted to blackmail Ward 6 Alderman DaJuan Gay and threatened the politician’s family pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of extortion in Circuit Court. Accepting responsibility for a felony charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, Omaryan White had all of a five-year prison sentence suspended, except for time served — in White’s case, nine days — and three years of supervised probation. Luke Parker/ Capital Gazette

COMMENTARY: SHIFT THE BURDEN OF PROOF TO SCHOOLS, PARENT ARGUE: Families of students with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities say the burden of proof should be shifted from them to the schools that want to send their children to a different school or spend the day in a segregated classroom. Despite decades of research showing that inclusion in general education classrooms leads to better academic and long–term outcomes, only 18% of Maryland students with intellectual disabilities are included in general education classrooms 80% or more of the day. Liz Zogby/Maryland Reporter

COMMENTARY: HOW TO HELP THE BAY: Recent reports on the current overall health of the Chesapeake Bay are not good. The recently released Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2022 State of the Bay Report gave the overall health of the Bay a D+ grade. The Delmarva Fisheries Association Below has several recommendations on opportunities to help improve the Bay’s overall health. Captain Rob Newberry/Maryland Matters

COMMENTARY: BALTIMORE POISED FOR BREAKTHROUGH WITH TECH START-UPS:  Baltimore entrepreneurs are well-positioned for a breakthrough on tech startups, despite challenges nationwide from events such as the SVB crisis, says Jamie McDonald, chief executive officer of UpSurge, which is focused on making Baltimore the country’s first  “equitech city.” Jamie McDonald/The Baltimore Banner

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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