CHILD SEX ABUSE LAWSUIT BILL CLOSER TO HEADING TO MOORE’s DESK: House lawmakers stood and cheered Friday following the passage of a bill to allow all survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers. The delegates’ eyes were trained on House Economic Matters Committee Chair C.T. Wilson, the sponsor, who had for sessions laid bare his story of abuse. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
- In past years, efforts to pass similar bills have found success in the House, but stalled in the Senate. But this year, Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) ushered legislation through his chamber that passed March 16. This year’s House vote on House Bill 1 brought an intense feeling of relief for survivors such, including Del. Wilson, after a resounding 132-2 vote. The chamber erupted in a standing ovation. William J. Ford/Maryland Matters.
PRIVATE SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP DISPUTE ENDS, MOVING $63B BUDGET FORWARD: Maryland House and Senate budget negotiators resolved a short-lived dispute over education funding Friday afternoon and passed a final version of the state’s $63-plus billion spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1. The budget bills will now go back to the House and Senate chambers today for a final up or down vote. Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
- Maryland General Assembly leaders on Friday compromised on how much money to budget for scholarships for children from low-income households to attend private schools, resolving one of the final disputes impeding approval of the state’s $63 billion budget. Jack Hogan/The Daily Record.
- The deal ends a simmering, weeks-long fight over whether to continue the program in its current form or begin to unwind it. With the stalemate resolved — and $9 million designated for the scholarship program — the state’s $63 billion budget is able to head toward final passage in the next few days. The budget dramatically increases the state’s education spending overall. Erin Cox/The Washington Post.
CANNABIS MARKETPLACE PLAN MOVES FORWARD: Maryland is still on track to set up a marketplace for recreational cannabis sales starting on July 1 after the state Senate approved its plan on Friday. The General Assembly has prioritized keeping taxes low in order to squelch illicit sales. But before they can move forward, both chambers’ versions of the bill must agree before they are sent to the governor’s desk. And right now they don’t. Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner.
- A bill awaiting final approval in the Senate would cap cannabis growing area — referred to as canopy — to a total that is roughly 23 times more than licensed growers are using now. Some worry that such an increase — should growers and the state fully maximize the potential — would depress prices and force operations out of Maryland’s nascent recreational cannabis market. Bryan Sears/The Daily Record.
BUTLER CONFIRMED AS STATE POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: The controversial nominee to lead the Maryland State Police was confirmed by the Senate on Friday. The confirmation of retired Lt. Col. Roland Butler comes two days after the Senate Executive Nominations Committee announced an unusual solution to break the logjam. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
- The appointment of Butler, who had been serving in an acting role since January, had been in question as senators expressed concerns about his ability to reform the embattled agency. Sam Janesch/The Baltimore Sun.
- The appointment was confirmed with a 43-4 vote, following an attempt by Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s), who has fielded complaints by Black troopers for more than a decade, to delay it. Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post.
AS END OF SESSION NEARS, WHAT IS LEFT TO BE DONE? Entering Monday, 36 pieces of legislation had received final approval and were headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Wes Moore. He has yet to sign any new law. Only a fraction of the remaining 2,300 bills filed since the beginning of the session will make it to the end. What’s happened so far, and what’s expected to come before the lawmakers head for the exits? Sam Janesch and Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
$2M ADDED TO BUDGET FOR EMERGENCY RENTAL AID: Maryland lawmakers quietly added $2 million for emergency rental assistance in the final hours of budget negotiations on Friday, a fraction of what housing advocates have said will be necessary to avoid a mounting eviction crisis in the state. The Maryland Emergency Rental Assistance Coalition had repeatedly called on the governor and the General Assembly to provide $175 million in emergency rental assistance. Sophie Kasakove/The Baltimore Banner.
BILL PACKAGE AIMS AT RISING HATE CRIMES IN MARYLAND: With the number of hate crimes rising rapidly in the United States, state Sen. Ben Kramer, D-Montgomery, introduced a package of five bills in the General Assembly that aim to combat bias incidents. Maryland recorded the 10th-highest number of antisemitic incidents nationwide in 2022 with 109 — nearly double how many there were in 2021, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Christine Zhu of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter.
STATE, MO CO CELEBRATE TRANSGENDER DAY: For the first time, the blue-and-pink transgender pride flag was on display in the State House Friday, as Gov. Wes Moore led a celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility. Advocates crowded around the governor as he signed a proclamation, and they posed for pictures in front of the flag. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.
- Friday marked International Transgender Day of Visibility, and while anti-transgender legislation is being introduced across the country, Montgomery County experienced a week of vocal support for LGBTQ+ residents from the County Council, school board and a local grassroots organization. Em Espey/MoCo 360.
***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.***
HARRIS CRITICIZES U.S. AS ‘BANANA REPUBLIC:’ Rep. Andy Harris, a supporter of former President Donald Trump and the only Republican in Maryland’s congressional delegation, said Friday that Trump’s indictment shows “we live in a third world banana republic where the justice system is weaponized against political opponents.” Jeff Barker/The Baltimore Sun.
‘NO LABELS’ 3rd PARTY PUSH ATTRACTS HOGAN: A meeting was held Thursday in support of plans by the centrist group No Labels to get presidential ballot lines in all 50 states for 2024. The group calls its effort an “insurance policy” against the major parties nominating two “unacceptable” candidates next year. Former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is a supporter of the effort, and said he has not ruled out participating in a No Labels presidential ticket, if it happens. Michael Scherer/The Washington Post.
LOW WAGES STRESS OVERWORKED HEALTH WORKERS: Some of the region’s lowest paid health workers across Baltimore say they are underpaid and overworked as the Covid-19 pandemic that has lingered for the past three years, continues to stress the medical system. Scott Maucione/WYPR-FM.
UNDOCUMENTED SEEK PASSAGEOF BILL EXPANDING HEALTH INSURANCE: Underneath a gray sky on Friday morning, dozens of undocumented people and their allies gathered outside the statehouse in Annapolis. They chanted and urged their senators to pass a bill that would expand health insurance access to 275,000 undocumented people across Maryland. Emily Hofstaedter/WYPR-FM.
CECIL WATER SUPPLIER MOVES TO PROTECT FROM PFAS: In the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed limits on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances maximum contaminant level to 4 parts per trillion earlier this month, Cecil County’s primary water supplier, Artesian Water, is taking steps to protect public health and meet the proposed federal regulation. Matt Hubbard/The Cecil Whig.