State Roundup, February 13, 2020

County, city leaders urge General Assembly to provide more funding for balanced transportation spending statewide; transit panel hears testimony on bill to ban state from acquiring residential property for toll lanes for I-270, I-495; Darryll Pines, longtime engineering dean, is named new president of University of Maryland, replacing Wallace Loh; advocates push to update state’s 50-year-old open records laws; some minors would be allowed to get vaccines without parental consent; bill would reinstate capital punishment for mass murder; on a tip, state auditors question grant to buy country club/golf course with opioid funds; and resolution to set up panel to rename Western Maryland mountain.

State Roundup, February 11, 2020

Sen. Klausmeier proposes bill to ban student sex offends from school campuses; taking Trump administration one step further, Comptroller Franchot bans sale of disposable e-cigarette devices; Gov. Hogan seeks to repeal Busch-sponsored bill requiring state to pay Annapolis at least $750,000 annually; as state seeks to right history, statues of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass installed at State House; Hogan blasts President Trump on Chesapeake Bay program cuts; Sen. Carter says progressive support could help her win Cummings’ seat; and at least 11 take buyouts at Sun Media Group papers.

2020 legislative session kicks off post-Miller era

@BryanRenbaum
bryan@marylandreporter.com

Commencement of the 441st legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday marked the first time in more than three decades since the Senate has had a new president. Sen. Mike Miller, who has led the upper chamber since 1987, is considered an institution in Maryland politics and is well-known on the national stage. Miller, who is 77, is battling prostate cancer and handed over his office to 36-year-old Sen. William Ferguson, D-Baltimore City. Ferguson, a teacher and an attorney, has served in the Senate since 2011. His rise to the upper echelon of Maryland politics comes less than a year after the death of four-term House Speaker Michael Busch culminated in the election of Del.

$925 million capital budget passes House

The House of Delegates approved $925 million in new debt in its capital budget on Tuesday – but not before several attempts were made to trim the amount that the state was going to borrow. The capital budget is funded through bonds, and the money is spent on infrastructure projects across the state.

Late bond bill additions questioned

By Erich Wagner
Erich@MarylandReporter.com

The House passed the state’s capital budget Wednesday, despite Republican allegations that the House Appropriations Committee improperly added projects at the last minute. Del. Susan Krebs, R-Carroll, accused Capital Budget Subcommittee Chair Adrienne Jones of adding projects to the budget that did not go through the proper process for local bond bills, the state’s version of earmarks. “The process was violated by the very person who wrote the rules [for filing bond bills],” Krebs said. Krebs unsuccessfully introduced an amendment that would take $1 million from the funding for those projects, many of which are for schools in Jones’ native Baltimore County.

House wants to keep bond bill earmarks

By Andy Rosen
Andy@MarylandReporter.com

The House wants to keep the legislative earmarks in local bond bills that the Senate is threatening to cut for the next two years, setting up another budget showdown between the chambers. Delegates could finish work on their capital budget proposal Wednesday, and the chamber gets one more chance to make changes before finalizing the bill. But lawmakers signed off on a measure Tuesday that would maintain bond bills, which lawmakers use to direct money to specific projects in their districts. The Senate voted last week to cut bond bills in the budget years 2012 and 2013, while maintaining the $15 million for the measures in the fiscal 2011 budget that will be approved by the end of the session next Monday. Del.