State Roundup, January 16, 2019

Moody’s director says Maryland economy good for now, but urges lawmakers to move forward with caution; Gov. Hogan announces $5 million spending plan for security at houses of worship, schools; under Maryland’s new red flag law, guns seized from 148 people, including five threats to schools; Del. Chang hopes to see expansion of hate crime law this session; Hogan suggests single-delegate districts in redistricting reform effort; oh, and by the way, it’s inauguration day for Gov. Hogan and Lt. Gov. Rutherford; Attorney General Frosh announces new hotline for victims of church abuse; and UMBC, police, prosecutors seek dismissal of lawsuit brought by sex assault victims.

Shady deals at MTA, persisting problems with social services, issues with developmental disabilities, UMES, auditors find

In four reports released in the past week, state auditors found: potential shady contract deals at the Maryland Transit Administration that they referred for prosecution, persisting problems at local social services agencies, failure to follow state procurement regulations and check residency requirements at a state university, and problems in verifying that Marylanders with developmental disabilities are getting the help they need.

State Roundup, January 15, 2019

Comptroller Franchot estimates that with 172,000 Marylanders affected by federal shutdown, loss to state in income tax hits $60 million, in sales tax hits $2 million; advocates and lawmakers begin concerted push to raise minimum wage to $15 in bill with no exceptions; Maryland Tech Council to oppose bills that might make it harder for drug companies to do business; gerrymander panel hold public hearing in Frederick; utilities get OK to build 5,000 EV charging stations throughout state with taxpayers footing most of the bill; Black Caucus meets, apparently raises questions on future of Treasurer Nancy Kopp; Jeb Bush, Ike Leggett to speak at Gov. Hogan’s 2nd inaugural; Montgomery Exec Elrich to seek to lure info-tech companies; and Arundel Exec Pittman explains ending immigration program.

State Roundup, January 14, 2019

Delays have added at least $215 million to cost of the Purple Line; Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, Del. Adrienne Jones preside over Senate and House for absent Senate President Miller, House Speaker Busch; progressive coalition pushes for $15 minimum wage; despite road congestion, Prince George’s, Montgomery oppose Hogan administration plans to widen highways; transgender group surprised name was tied to illegal robocall put out by Del. Impallaria staffer; new book discovers a Chesapeake Bay we never knew; Montgomery County Exec Elrich fails to get recognition for early fiscal restraint; Maryland economy could very well suffer as federal shutdown continues; and U.S. Rep. Cummings takes center stage on 60 Minutes.

How can we understand a Chesapeake Bay we’ve never seen?

Author Victor Kennedy has examined the Bay’s past abundances of seafood, from terrapins and sturgeon to oysters and shad and waterfowl, sifting through anecdotal evidence and early surveys to arrive at a sense of just how full of life the Chesapeake was as Europeans began to settle it. His book also pulls together an accounting of how thoroughly we squandered the “immense protein factory” praised by Baltimore journalist H. L. Mencken. Kennedy says “generational amnesia” relating to historical abundances risks setting the bar too low for restoration goals.

State Roundup, January 11, 2019

Sen. Mike Miller, longest serving Senate president, confirms prostate cancer, treatment and vows to continue General Assembly work as senators express sadness and Sen. Klausmeier prepares to take gavel when needed; Governing Mag profile Miller and what has made him successful; new poll finds most Marylanders support $15 minimum wage; aide to Del. Impallaria charge with making illegal robo-calls targeting fellow Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga; Del. Clippinger sets new tone for Judiciary Committee meetings; many dismayed that Maryland Parks Service merging social media accounts of all parks; Hogan administration to increase funding for drug problems; Del. Parrott, prepping to run for Congress, replaced as chair of Washington County delegation; and Western Marylanders’ objections to Redskins stadium land swap begins to surface.

Maryland voters support raising the minimum wage to $15

On one of the top issues facing legislators in Annapolis this session, 61% of Maryland voters favor raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and almost half (47%) strongly favor the idea, according to a new poll for MarylandReporter.com by Gonzales Research & Media Services. The move is broadly favored by more than three-fourths of Democrats (78%) and eight out of 10 African Americans (81%), as well as a majority of independents (55%). Only among Republican voters, a minority of the Maryland electorate, is their broad opposition to it, with almost half (49%) strongly opposed to the hourly hike.

State Roundup, January 10, 2019

As opening day in Annapolis gets under way, Senate President Mike Miller readies a statement on his health, while sources say he is being treated for prostate cancer; Senate, House of Delegates sworn in as family, friends gather around; despite the pomp, issues still bubble to the forefront: education funding, a $15 minimum wage. Gov. Hogan’s crime initiative for Baltimore City. Prince George’s and Montgomery County execs show up; former Del. Saqib Ali sues state over executive order denying government contracts to businesses that boycott Israel; and local consequences of federal shutdown continue to pile up.