Maryland Divided Part 1: Rural counties hope to gain political clout

The first in a five-part series in the divide between rural Maryland and the rest of the state. Earlier this year when Gov. Larry Hogan took the stage in Annapolis at P.A.C.E., a conference dedicated to Western Maryland, he opened with the following: “When I was sworn in two years ago, I said the war on rural Maryland was over — and I meant what I said.”

Bay Bridge

How about a third Bay bridge from Baltimore Co. into Kent Co.?

Gov. Larry Hogan last month announced yet another study of a third span across the Chesapeake Bay. The study is expected to cost $5 million and take up to four years. Its goal is to determine the appropriate site for a third span and how to pay for it.
Gov. Hogan’s announcement came with the current Bay Bridge in the background. The setting suggests that the third lane will be built at the current Sandy Point site. Maryland would be well served, however, by building the next bay crossing from Baltimore County to Kent County.

Wisconsin Gov. Walker right at home with union protests

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker felt right at a home in Glen Burnie Friday night for the annual state Republican’s Red White and Blue dinner. Union members were picketing him outside. “Obviously, I haven’t lost my touch,” Walker joked, referring to the massive demonstrations he generated in Wisconsin’s capital in 2011 when he tried to cut back on collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and raise their pension contributions.

Getty in red earns bipartisan praise

Gov. Larry Hogan swore in his chief legislative officer, Joe Getty, to the Court of Appeals at the State House Monday, with a big heaping of bipartisan praise. Getty brings an unusual range of experience to Maryland’s highest court, having served as a Republican delegate and senator from Carroll County and chief legislative officer to both Hogan and Gov. Bob Ehrlich, in addition to his private law practice. He offers “an invaluable and unique perspective,” said Hogan.

Open sign

Keeping the doors open for behavioral health will help the vulnerable

Years of stagnant or reduced behavioral health budgets have jeopardized critical access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Without action, we fear that community health providers may close up shop, and Marylanders who urgently need behavioral health care will instead find closed doors or dead ends. Commentary by Sen. Guy Guzzone and Del. Antonio Hayes.

Rascovar on Hogan’s conflicted budget

At first glance there is lots to like about Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr.’s new budget. It’s largely a status quo blueprint that keeping spending under expected revenue growth without harming ongoing programs. There’s a bit of sunshine for just about every group – liberals, conservatives, environmentalists, law-and-order types, urban dwellers, rural residents and suburbanites.