The state of the State House press corps

In a tradition that goes back at least a dozen years, members of the State House press corps gathered at half past midnight on April 9 after an unusually somber Sine Die. We had just marked the first session in 17 years without Michael Busch wielding the speaker’s gavel, ending with a memorial joint session of House and Senate. It was a pretty robust year for State House reporting, though the session was fairly tame.

State Roundup, April 19, 2019

Gov. Hogan signs 195 bills into law, including UMMS board overhaul, tougher penalties for cyberbullying and reclassifying human trafficking as a violent crime; June 28 officially becomes Freedom of the Press Day in Maryland; 17 progressive groups seek answers from candidates for House Speaker on transparency, openness of legislative process, term limits; Hogan calls lawmakers back to Annapolis on May 1 to elect new Speaker; state tool shows impact to homeowners of proposed widening of Capital Beltway, I-270; Maryland lawmakers oppose proposed off-shore seismic testing; Maryland U.S. reps weigh in on Mueller report; Westminster considers banning single use plastic bags; and Kensington mulls lowering voting age for local elections.

ACLU, 16 groups ask speaker hopefuls for greater openness, legislative reforms, term limits

The ACLU, Common Cause and 15 other progressive groups and unions are asking the candidates for speaker of the House of Delegates to answer a questionnaire that commits them to greater openness in the legislative process and to term limits for the speaker and committee chairs.The twelve-part questionnaire raises many of the issues that have long troubled witnesses, advocates, lobbyists and journalists about how the legislature operates.

Del. Alice Cain reflects on session, Speaker who shared their district

Del. Alice Cain of Annapolis, one of eight Democrats to take a seat held by a Republican, reflects on her first session and on the death of Speaker Mike Busch, who shared the two-member district with her. “I was thinking how much I’m going to miss him, how much the State House is going to miss him, and how much the community of Annapolis is going to miss him,” she said. “It was great to see him in action here myself.”

RIP: A final day without Mike Busch — but a photo album of remembrances

For 17 sessions since 2003, two constants for the final day were the two Mikes. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr, president of the Maryland Senate whom at we call simply Mike Miller, and Michael Erin Busch, speaker of the House of Delegates.Now Busch is gone, dead Sunday afternoon after a series of medical problems. Until two years ago, he was a vigorous, energetic, athletic man in firm command of an unruly bunch of 141 who called him “coach.” Here is a photo album with some remembrances.

More restrictions put on power of Board of Public Works by House bill

Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent attempts to acquire land from the federal government for a Redskins stadium and to expand the Baltimore-Washington Parkway have led to yet another effort to limit the power of the Board of Public Works made up of the governor, comptroller and state treasurer.  The bill passed the House of Delegates Thursday in a party-line vote after lengthy floor debate.  

Dundalk High School under construction (Photo by sugargliding on Flickr)

Big jump in school construction funding stalled in Senate

Time is ticking down on the largest school construction bill in Maryland history.With just five days until the end of the General Assembly session April 8, the Senate has yet to pass HB727, dubbed the Build to Learn Act, which would provide an additional $2.2 billion for school construction, divvying up the bulk of the funding to the state’s largest counties.

32-15 was the number to play as legislature overrides vetoes

The Pick Four number to play Thursday in the legislative lottery was 32-15. In three successive party line votes in the Maryland Senate, that was the vote tally Democrats played to overcome Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes of bills to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour and to allow Maryland schools to open before Labor Day, overturning the governor’s executive order.