New Senate budget chair Guzzone forecasts a phase-in for school reforms, spending

The new chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Howard County’s Guy Guzzone, sees a way forward by phasing in the recommendations without tax hikes – at least for the moment. “If you’re going to spend all this money, you want to see results,” Guzzone said in an interview. “What I believe by now at this point is that we have the resources right now to get this going. We have the resources to see improvements along the way.” “And we’re going to keep checking. And every time we check and realize that we’re succeeding and we’re reaching the next level of success, we can say, OK, let’s figure out how to fund that next level. I think that’s the right way to think about it.”

Maryland to phase in manure restrictions without delay

Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder declared Monday that he saw no need to delay a state regulation that restricts the use of animal manure to fertilize farm fields, despite a study warning there are likely to be problems dealing with the excess manure that is expected to result.

New editor-publisher takes over MarylandReporter.com

Longtime journalist Tim Maier is the new executive editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com, taking over day-to-day operations from editor and publisher Len Lazarick after 10 years at the helm of the site he founded in 2009. Len will remain as president of the nonprofit corporation and is now chairman of its board. He will continue to write for the website and contribute in other ways with fundraising and business functions. 

State Roundup, December 31, 2019

Del. Sydnor appointed senator to replace Nathan-Pulliam, Mike Griffith replaces Del. Cassilly; achievement gaps persists in Montgomery County; pay hike sought for Montgomery school board; Cummings $1M campaign fund could go to youth programs, scholarships; preview of legislation on plastic bag ban, assault rifle buy back, and legalization of marijuana, which is not likely to happen this year.  

State Roundup, December 30,2019

Deadly year in Baltimore, with 343 homicides; former Sen. Ulysses Currie dies; more questions about ex-Del. Cheryl Glenn and medical cannabis; new deputy health secretary; election day wireless communications questioned; new Prince George’s fire chief is first woman; Gov. Hogan must decide on accepting refugees; and former BaCo superintendent Joe Hairston dies.   

New federal budget boosts Chesapeake Bay funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which guides the overall restoration work throughout the six-state watershed, will get $85 million, the most it’s ever received. That’s a 16% increase over what the program received annually from Congress for the last five years. It’s also almost $78 million more than the Trump White House had asked for this year. That request would have resulted in a nearly 90% cut to the Bay Program budget.

Young-of-year rockfish have another poor year in Md., better in Va.

Striped bass, whose population has been in decline for a decade and a half, suffered from another poor year of reproduction in Maryland, though the news was better in Virginia. Maryland’s annual young-of-year index was just 3.4, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, well below the long-term average of 11.6. It was the ninth time in the last 14 years that the state’s index reflected below-average reproduction in the state.

Accountability must be key element in increased money for schools

As battle lines harden over how much reform of public schools in Maryland will cost and who will pay for it, the argument has become just about money, and not the scores of moving parts in a comprehensive proposal that would drastically change education here. Lost in arguing about the billions more the changes will cost state and local taxpayers is the key fifth part of the recommendations from the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (p.122). It spells out in detail how a new super oversight board will hold the school systems accountable for how the money is spent.

Eastern Shore controversy spotlights chicken plant slurry

Residents of rural Wicomico County are upset about the construction of a 3-million-gallon tank of chicken “residuals” leftover from the processing of poultry which is spread on farmland. The 23-foot-tall tank will contain an oily slurry culled from the wastewater generated by two poultry industry facilities in a neighboring county. One homeowner fears the odor will drive her indoors, attract hordes of flies and cause the value of nearby properties, including hers, to plummet.