LEGISLATURE WRAPS UP TONIGHT; ISSUES IN THE BALANCE: The Maryland legislature will adjourn as the clock hits midnight Monday, wrapping up a 90-day session defined by efforts to make the state a “safe haven for abortions,” to stand up a legal market for selling recreational cannabis and by attempting to strengthen gun control laws in the wake of consequential U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. A clickable index to the right of the article will take you to a specific subject. Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox/The Washington Post.
- After 89 days sifting through more than 2,000 pieces of proposed legislation, the Maryland General Assembly is set to conclude its 445th session at midnight. With many of the most heavily debated issues settled, the first year of the term has been characterized by turnover and new energy at the top levels of government and a willingness to work together, legislative leaders said. Danielle Gaines/Maryland Matters.
HOUSE SPENDS SATURDAY CHURNING THROUGH GUN, CANNABIS BILLS: Working the last Saturday of the General Assembly session, the House of Delegates churned through dozens of pieces of legislation, including passing a final version of a bill to stand up a recreational cannabis market in Maryland. The House also moved, with limited debate, final versions of two of the three major gun bills. The third and most controversial measure will be up for a final vote on Monday, the last day of the 90-day session. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
BILL WOULD TIGHTEN CONCEALED CARRY LAW: Maryland lawmakers are on track to further tighten the state’s already-strict laws on guns, putting more limits on who can obtain concealed carry permits and where the weapons can be carried — a response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that led to a flood of new permits issued. Del. Luke Clippinger pointed out that the state has “90,000 new wear and carry participants in the state and there are more people applying every day.” Pamela Wood and Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner.
RULES FOR RECREATIONAL CANNABIS: Riding the legislative momentum of a voter-driven mandate, the 2023 Maryland General Assembly arrived Saturday at a policy destination the state has been inching toward for years — establishing rules for recreational cannabis sales. Should Gov. Wes Moore sign the bill into law, which he is likely to do, Marylanders 21 and older will be able to buy recreational cannabis on July 1. Brenda Wintrode/The Baltimore Banner.
- With just one workday before adjourning on Monday at midnight, lawmakers passed House and Senate measures with relative ease, having hammered out critical points earlier after members of both chambers spent much of last year studying the pitfalls other states experienced standing up their legal markets. Legislators also drew from Maryland’s own botched rollout of its medical cannabis industry. Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post.
- Guns and cannabis had been two of the largest and most complicated issues before the General Assembly after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a longtime “concealed carry” law and a state ballot referendum that approved recreational cannabis beginning July 1. Sam Janesch and Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
HOW WILL THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY WORK IN HAGERSTOWN? With Maryland making plans to legalize recreational marijuana this summer, how will it work in Hagerstown? Where will people be able to buy it? Will consuming it in the shops be allowed? Are there any changes planned about where marijuana will be allowed to be grown in the city? Dave McMillion/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.
CABINET, BOARD NOMINEES: WHO IS IN, WHO IS OUT: Two Cabinet-level appointments topped a list of dozens of nominees approved by the Maryland Senate late Friday evening. The vote is likely the last from the Senate Executive Nominations Committee this General Assembly session. The nomination of Maria Martinez to the Maryland Stadium Authority just may die without a vote. Also, the Senate voted 12-31 along party lines to reject Christine McCloud’s appointment to the Maryland State Board of Elections. McCloud, a Howard County hypnotherapist, was appointed by the Maryland Republican Party to one of two spots reserved for the party. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.
ADVOCATES FOR HEALTH CARE FOR UNDOCUMENTED ARRESTED: The protesters — later detained by police — who occupied the stone steps of the Annapolis State House on Friday morning to demand health care for undocumented people want lawmakers to know Santos Romeo’s name, an undocumented immigrant who died of diabetes earlier this year. Ovetta Wiggins and Jenna Portnoy/The Washington Post.
- The demonstrators were part of a larger group of CASA activists and supporters who have been stationed outside the State House for several days in an attempt to pressure the Senate to vote out a bill, which passed resoundingly in the House on March 15 but has been bottled up in the Senate Finance Committee and is not expected to move before the General Assembly session ends on Monday night. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.
- “What do we want? Health care for all! When do we want it? Now!” chanted the seven protesters, including Comptroller Brooke Lierman’s brother, Trent Leon-Lierman, as they blocked Maryland state senators from entering the State House. Capitol police and the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms created a path to guide them through. Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.
MOORE STRATEGICALLY DEPLOYS CHARM: Gov. Wes Moore is building alliances to establish himself as a different type of leader: He wants to be a convener, not an adversary. In his first months in office, Moore deployed his trademark charisma strategically. He’ll need those people to make the state government do more than it ever has. Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins/The Washington Post.
FARMERS GET A GREEN BOOST IN COMPOST BILLS: For farmers like Keith Ohlinger, composting has been a way of life on his 22-acre Howard County property, and now a bill awaiting Gov. Wes Moore’s signature aims to expand a zero-waste future. Senate Bill 262, passed by the General Assembly this session, “requires the Department of the Environment to adopt regulations to exempt an on-farm composting facility from the requirement to obtain a permit if the on-farm composting facility uses 10,000 square feet of area or less for active food scrap composting.” Kristian Jaime/The Salisbury Daily Times.
NEW DETAILS IN CATHOLIC CHURCH SEX ABUSE REPORT: The 456 pages of the Attorney General’s report on child sex in the Archidiocese of Baltimore also includes 32 names that the church has not included on its credibly accused list, a collection of files on priests who committed sexual abuse in Baltimore that were described as the “bad boy” files, and an instance in which the Archdiocese of Washington took in a Baltimore priest despite knowing he was accused of abuse. Kristen Griffith and Hallie Miller/The Baltimore Banner.
PRIESTS MAKE PASSING REFERENCE TO REPORT ON EASTER: The pews were filled to overflowing at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in North Baltimore and 165-year-old St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarksville, where the men celebrating the Easter Masses indirectly referenced the disturbing report by the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. Jonathan Pitts and Lee O. Sanderlin/The Baltimore Sun.
END OF COVID SNAP BENEFITS: Hunger is on the rise in Maryland as a cut to food stamps and rising costs pushes more demand onto food banks and community organizations. Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits introduced during the pandemic expired at the end of February, leaving roughly 600,000 to 700,000 Marylanders who receive food assistance short an average of $82 per month. Dillon Mullan/The Baltimore Sun.
***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.***
FREDERICK SHERIFF JENKINS FACES FEDERAL WEAPONS CHARGE: Chuck Jenkins, the sitting sheriff and chief law enforcement official of Frederick County, one of Maryland’s most populous counties, has been accused in a federal indictment of conspiring with the owner of a gun shop to illegally obtain machine guns by using official police credentials so the shop could rent out the weapons to make money. Dan Morse and Katie Mettler/The Washington Post
OLSZEWSKI NOMINATES POLICE CHIEF FROM WITHIN: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced the nomination of Robert McCullough as the county’s police chief. If confirmed by the County Council, McCullough will be Baltimore County’s first Black chief. He was a 35-year veteran of the department and retired as a colonel and Operations Bureau Chief in 2021. John Lee/WYPR-FM.
- The 56-year-old department veteran said he was drawn back by the importance of the job and the chance to help change the culture of policing. Anthony Russell, a retired president and consultant to the Blue Guardians, a group representing Baltimore County officers of color, said McCullough is well-equipped to move the department toward becoming more equitable and inclusive, and into “modern-day policing.” Penelope Blackwell, Kristen Griffith and Cadence Quaranta/The Baltimore Banner.