State Roundup: Senate committee sends budget package to floor without tax hikes; new program would offer grants to offset cost of zero emissions work vehicles

State Roundup: Senate committee sends budget package to floor without tax hikes; new program would offer grants to offset cost of zero emissions work vehicles

An electric truck in Vancouver, Canada. Maryland is embarking on a program to put more e-trucks on the road to fight climate change. "Novex 'No Noise' Electric Delivery Truck, Vancouver" by Paul Krueger is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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NO TAX HIKES INCLUDED IN 2025 BUDGET: Senate leaders Friday said Maryland’s fiscal 2025 budget will continue to protect key priorities without the need for tax increases. The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee finished work on a $63.1 billion budget proposed earlier this year by Gov. Wes Moore (D). The revised spending plan is expected to be before the Senate with a final vote next week. Bryan Sears/Maryland Matters.

SENATE OKs BILL TO ALLOW UNDOCUMENTED TO BUY HEALTH INSURANCE: State lawmakers are on track to allowing undocumented immigrants to buy health insurance on the state’s insurance exchange — though they’ll still need to pay full price and won’t get any government subsidies. The Maryland Senate gave approval to the change on a 34-13 vote on Friday afternoon. That followed approval in the House of Delegates on a 101-34 vote in late February. Pamela Wood and Merdith Cohn /The Baltimore Banner.

GRANTS WOULD OFFSET COST OF ZERO-EMISSIONS WORK VEHICLES: Maryland announced a new program to help drive the fight against climate change. The Maryland Energy Administration unveiled the new fiscal year 2024 Medium-Duty and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Grant Program. The plan provides grants to Maryland communities, organizations, and fleet companies that will help offset the cost of purchasing zero-emission medium- or heavy-duty fleet vehicles, and zero-emission off-road heavy equipment. Aliza Worthington/Baltimore Fishbowl.

MOORE ALLY OPPOSES HIS DATA CENTER BILL: The Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Gov. Wes Moore’s closest ally in the state’s environmental community, came out against one of the governor’s top legislative priorities Friday. In a letter to members of the state Senate, the executive director said the green group “regretfully” has decided to oppose Senate Bill 474, legislation from the Moore administration designed to attract large-scale data centers to the state. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

FARM NEIGHBORS SEEKS TO REDUCE TOLL OF FERTILIZER STENCH: For the poultry industry, spreading a waste product from processing most often chickens is a popular and cost-effective solution, as the material contains many of the nutrients that help plants grow. But it also comes with an incredible stench. And if it’s applied too frequently, or stored in open-air pits, that smell can often make the outdoors unbearable. Residents in one Carroll County town have called on local officials and the Maryland Department of Agriculture to do something about it. So far, not much has changed. But they’re hoping that a bill in Maryland’s General Assembly this year could help. Christine Condon/The Baltimore Sun.

STEIN BILL SEEN AS SOLID MOVE TOWARD CLIMATE GOALS: Del. Dana Stein (D-Baltimore County) was one of the major architects of the Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022, which was meant to guide the state’s response to climate change. Now, one of Stein’s bills is seen by some colleagues and environmental advocates as a preferred vehicle for funding some of the state’s ambitious climate goals. The legislation calls for creation of a fossil fuel mitigation fund within the Maryland Department of the Environment with the revenues from a new fee. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

COMMENTARY: HIGHWAYS A TERRIBLE WAY TO RELIEVE CONGESTION: Maryland has always subjugated transit, walking and biking options to highways. Then, in 2015, Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line, forfeited $900 million in federal funding and increased highway building even more. This won’t improve mobility. To paraphrase noted urban planner Lewis Mumford, building more roads to alleviate congestion is like loosening one’s belt to relieve obesity. It’s short-term relief at best. Will Baker/The Baltimore Banner.

BILL WOULD MAKE PRISONER PHONE CALLS TO LOVED ONES FREE: Proposed legislation would require the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to allow people in prison to make phone calls free to family, friends and other loved ones. The bill was one of a few pieces of legislation addressing correctional services and inmates’ lives that have been discussed in Annapolis in recent days. William Ford/Maryland Matters.

HORSE RACING STAKEHOLDERS SEEK PATH FORWARD: As the thoroughbred horse racing industry struggles with waning interest and grave economic challenges, its Maryland stakeholders are seeking to chart a path forward amid strong headwinds. But to complete that mission, advocates and legislators will soon need to introduce and pass a bill — and quickly, before the General Assembly session ends next month. Hayes Gardner/The Baltimore Sun.

TRONE, ALSOBROOKS LAY OUT PRIORITIES IN SENATE FORUM: Angela Alsobrooks and David Trone, two Democratic candidates for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat, laid out their priorities and weighed in on a wide array of national, international, and local issues in a crowded church auditorium in Fort Washington on Friday night. Dwight Weingarten/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.

CYBER ATTACK DAMAGE AT UNITED HEALTHCARE STILL UNKNOWN: Maryland officials, providers, insurance plans and other healthcare institutions are still trying to figure out the scope and impact of the United Healthcare Group cyber attack that disrupted payment processing operations on Feb. 21. Scott Maucione/WYPR-TV.

FORMER STATE DEPUTY SECRETARY INDICTED ON CHILD PORN CHARGES: A former Maryland deputy secretary of state from Essex was indicted last month on federal charges related to possession and distribution of child sexual abuse material stemming from a Fort Meade sting operation. Lillian Reed/The Baltimore Banner.

HARFORD GOVERNMENT IN OPEN DISCORD: Harford County government has erupted in open discord. It comes despite the county remaining, as it has for decades, run largely by a single party, the Republicans. There are dueling ethics complaints, wiretapping claims that led to a state prosecutor’s investigation and a veritable war of words fought through news releases, op-eds and public statements. Jean Marbella and Ben Terzi/The Baltimore Sun.

CARROLL COMMISSIONERS DISCUSS DITCHING SUPERMAJORITY RULE: The Board of Carroll County Commissioners this week discussed changing a rule that requires a supermajority of commissioners to vote on passing a budget. A supermajority means that four of the five commissioners, who are all Republicans, must vote to approve a motion or else that motion would fail. Thomas Goodwin Smith/The Carroll County Times.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

cynthiaprairie@gmail.com
https://www.chestertelegraph.org/

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at: cynthiaprairie@gmail.com

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