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.
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.
Legislators and nonprofit groups are still digesting the $42.3 billion budget Gov. Larry Hogan submitted Wednesday. But there were few signs of indigestion over a proposal that increases spending by $2 billion (5%), while setting aside a record $1.5 billion in reserves and surplus. “We don’t know until we get into all the details” is the way House Speaker Michael Busch summed it up after breakfast with the governor and fiscal leaders. House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh had lots of unanswered questions, as well.
Three senators on the Judicial Proceedings Committee — Michael Hough, Jamie Raskin and Chairman Bobby Zirkin– are sponsoring a comprehensive new bill (SB161) to fundamentally reform how and when law enforcement can seize money and other assets from people suspected of crimes.
Two-thirds of all voters (67%) in a new poll taken last week approve of the job Gov. Larry Hogan is doing and only 19% disapprove, a higher approval rating than ever achieved by either of his two predecessors. Three out of five voters (60%) believe Maryland is headed in the right direction, while 22% say the state is headed on the wrong track, with 18% giving no answer. Linked to full poll results.
Asked about the long-smoldering fight over a 160-megawatt trash incinerator proposed in south Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a forum Wednesday that he has “no position on it because I don’t have the facts.” The woman who asked the question found Hogan’s reply “infuriating,” even though he promised to have his staff meet with her and the group opposing the incinerator. “We’ve been fighting this proposal for four years,” she said. But Hogan’s environment secretary knew a lot about the project.
Amid a sea of Maryland state-flag neckties and toddlers in suits, legislators of the Maryland General Assembly were gaveled in for the first day of the 2016 session. Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael Busch, both Democrats, were reinstated in their leadership positions. It is Miller’s 30th legislative session as president, the longest-serving presiding officer in any U.S. legislature. Miller, 73, is now also the longest-serving member of the Maryland General Assembly, first elected to the House of Delegates in 1970.
Before we get too far into the New Year, let’s dispense with the Maryland political maneuver deemed as the low point of 2015: Civil rights advocacy groups waited till the very end of the year to file the worst and most counter-productive legal complaint that’s been filed in a long, long time. The groups, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union, are essentially suing Gov. Larry Hogan administratively for daring to kill the $2.9 billion Red Line rapid rail route through Baltimore. Their reasoning: Hogan made a racially discriminatory decision that harms African Americans in Baltimore City. Not only is the complaint historically inaccurate, it is pointless and damaging to their cause.
What began at least four years ago as a personal crusade by Comptroller Peter Franchot to get air conditioning for hot Baltimore County classrooms has now turned into a cause celebre involving the governor, his cabinet secretaries and the presiding officers of the Maryland General Assembly. The heat on this political pot was turned up last week when Tim Maloney, a former delegate who represents the Senate on the Interagency Committee on School Construction, proposed deferring action on a plan to allow $15 million to be used to put room air conditioners in 1,561 classrooms. Most of them are in Baltimore County (1,109) and Baltimore City (416).
Commission recommends overhaul of state government, streamlining regulations and improved customer service
Gov. Larry Hogan’s Regulatory Reform Commission is recommending a massive overhaul of Maryland’s “convoluted” governmental structure along with a host of small and medium-size changes to streamline regulations and focus state employees on helping businesses and citizens.
“We have to fundamentally change the mindset of the state’s regulatory mission from one of glaring bureaucracy looking to punish and change it into a customer service base,” Hogan said as he touted the commission’s initial 30-page report.