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Quick News Updates – The Blog

Lawmakers, Advocates Make Last-Ditch Push to Pass ‘Anton’s Law’

A freshman lawmaker frustrated with the lack of action on a police transparency bill said he, Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) and other supporters will hold a news conference next week to demand that leadership schedule a vote on legislation known as Anton’s Law.“We are demanding a vote on Anton’s Law from leadership of the Judicial Proceedings Committee and leadership from the House and Senate,” said Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery), the House bill sponsor. “It is time for them now to use their position to deliver on issues that matters to communities of color.”The bill would require the...

Maryland Matters on the Air

Maryland Matters' Danielle Gaines will appear on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show's Politics Hour" on Friday afternoon, discussing hot topics from the Maryland General Assembly session. The show airs from noon to 1 p.m. on WAMU and can also be heard on https://wamu.org/.Our Bruce DePuyt will be making his next regular appearance on WTOP (or https://wtop.com/) this Sunday at about 2:10 p.m.Be sure to tune in!

Unified Senate Passes Budget Plan

The Maryland Senate voted 47-0 in favor of a $46.6 billion state budget on Thursday, and budget negotiators from both chambers are expected to start meeting on a compromise spending plan Friday afternoon.Before the chamber’s final vote, Sen. George Edwards (R-Western Maryland) thanked Budget and Taxation Chair Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery) on behalf of the Republican members of the committee, for her first year of work as chairwoman.“She did a tremendous job,” Edwards said. “She allowed us to have input, especially in areas where we have expertise to draw upon. I think that’s important to the process.”Edwards said that...

John Delaney Kind of Wants Larry Hogan to Run for President

Former Maryland congressman John K. Delaney, one of 15 candidates currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, would like to see another Marylander in the White House election – in the other party’s primary.“Every day Donald Trump wakes up and finds a new way to divide our country and denigrate the office of the Presidency,” Delaney said in a statement Thursday. “His behavior is disgraceful and an embarrassment to the American people. Unless Republicans believe that Donald Trump is a fair and accurate representation of the Republican party as a whole, they should put up a challenger to run against...

Hogan Writes Congressional Delegation Seeking Support for B-W Parkway Takeover

The deterioration of MD-295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, has reached “a breaking point,” Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) told the members of Maryland’s congressional delegation in a letter.“MD-295 is a dangerous and notoriously congested highway that has been problematic for decades,” Hogan wrote. “In recent weeks, however, we have reached a breaking point, with potholes, congestion, crashes, and debris creating driving conditions so hazardous that the speed limit between Routes 197 and 32 had to be lowered to 40 miles per hour.”Hogan's letter, sent Wednesday to the state's two senators and eight members of the House, urges lawmakers anew to support the transfer of the road...

Hogan, Franchot Seek Independent Audit of Medical System

State leaders called on Wednesday for an outside investigation of the University of Maryland Medical System board of directors, saying that the public deserves an independent probe of conflict of interest allegations that have hit the panel.Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D), speaking publicly for the first time about the UMMS controversy at the twice-monthly meeting of the Board of Public Works, said Marylanders deserve “a real examination of what happened here… because it raises some real ethical concerns.”This afternoon Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch...

2 UMMS Board Members Resign, Others Take Leave of Absence

Two members of the University of Maryland Medical System Board of Directors stepped down on Tuesday and four others agreed to a leave of absence, as the system struggles to deal with conflict of interest allegations that have angered state leaders and led to demands for reform.In a statement, UMMS Board Chairman Stephen A. Burch said he had accepted the resignation of board members John W. Dillon and Robert L. Pevenstein.He offered no explanation for why those two members decided to step down.“This is not a reflection on any of the affected Board members or their businesses,” Burch wrote.“Our...

House, Senate Move Forward on Reinsurance Program Funding

The Maryland Senate moved forward on a bill Tuesday that would fund the state’s reinsurance program for the next four years.The House of Delegates passed the measure last week by a vote of 97-37. A final vote on Senate Bill 239 is likely Wednesday or Thursday.The establishment of the state’s reinsurance program last year was lauded as a bipartisan success story. The program was created after the state sought a waiver from certain Affordable Care Act rules to establish a reinsurance pool to provide funding for catastrophic claims of policyholders in the individual insurance market.The program, which is effectively...

Looking for a Lawmaker Tonight? You Might Have to Cross the Bay Bridge

After a frenetic “crossover day” Monday, and several intense days leading up to it, state lawmakers deserve a break, right?Well, they’re getting it Tuesday evening, courtesy of a leading Annapolis lobbying firm.State legislative buildings started looking like a ghost town late Tuesday afternoon. That’s because many lawmakers were hurrying to a crab feast across the Bay Bridge in North Grasonville, hosted by Schwartz, Metz & Wise, P.A. The event is taking place at Harris’ Crabhouse and Seafood Restaurant along Kent Narrows.The firm’s clients include Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.; Med Chi, also known as the Maryland Medical Society; the Maryland...

Ex-Governor to Help Lawmaker Fight Another Ex-Governor’s Political Legacy

As he contemplates a bid for Congress, Del. Neil C. Parrott (R-Washington) is trying to use an ex-governor to score political points against another ex-governor.Parrott, who has created an exploratory committee as he considers whether to run for the 6th District seat in 2020, has a breakfast fundraiser scheduled for March 29 in Annapolis, to be headlined by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). In a fundraising solicitation for the upcoming breakfast, Parrott blames former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) for the current 6th District boundaries.“You are not being represented fairly in Congress,” the email begins. “Do you feel...

Conferees Reach Compromise on Minimum Wage Legislation

House and Senate conferees discussing legislation to establish a $15-an-hour minimum wage in Maryland ironed out their differences in a single meeting Tuesday afternoon, the chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee told Maryland Matters.The two chambers have decided to compromise on the few issues that differentiated the House and Senate bills.The biggest sticking point was whether and when to extend the phase-in period for small businesses to provide their workers with the full $15-an-hour wage. The House had no provision in its bill for small businesses and envisioned small employers adhering to the same Jan. 1, 2025 start...

Hogan Judicial Nominees Get Favorable Committee Vote

A trio of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s judicial nominees were supported by the Senate Executive Nominations Committee on Monday evening.Hogan (R) nominated the appointees last week to fill vacancies in the state’s appellate courts.Brynja McDivitt Booth was appointed to the Court of Appeals as a representative of the 1st Appellate Circuit. Calvert County Circuit Court Judge Edward Gregory Wells was appointed by Hogan to the Court of Special Appeals, and Montgomery County lawyer Steven Bennett Gould was appointed to the Court of Special Appeals, representing the 7th Appellate Court.All three nominees were interviewed by the committee on Monday...

City Senators Seek to Block Bill They Fear Could Erode State Support for Pimlico

Baltimore City senators are making a last-ditch effort to solidify state support for Pimlico Race Course, which hosts the annual Preakness Stakes.In a letter sent Saturday to Budget & Taxation Chair Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery), the six city senators outlined their concerns with Senate Bill 883, a measure that would add the Bowie Race Course Training Center to the list of thoroughbred racing facilities eligible to receive Racetrack Facility Renewable Account funding generated by lottery proceeds. The lawmakers said they could not support the legislation “without transparent and genuine protections for the future of Pimlico Race Course and the...

Van Hollen to Park Service: Your Road Plan Is ‘Unacceptable’

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is demanding that the National Park Service speed up its timetable for fixing portions of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that have become nearly unusable.In a letter to National Park Service Acting Director Dan Smith, Van Hollen notes that the agency currently plans to do extensive repair on the road in late summer, a timetable he called “unacceptable.”“It is an unsafe situation that needs to be remedied immediately through expedited action by the National Park Service and its federal partners,” he wrote in a Friday letter.On March 1, the Park Service reduced the speed limit on...

Delaney Seeking Donors By Promising to Boost Nonprofits

What do you do when you’re largely self-funding your White House bid but you need to demonstrate broad grass-roots support to be able to participate in the all-important televised candidate debates this summer?If you’re former Maryland congressman John K. Delaney (D), you appeal to voters’ sense of generosity – and try to strike a bargain.Delaney is telling supporters that for every new donor who contributes to his campaign, he’ll donate $2 to the nonprofit organization of their choice.“This prevents the media and the from picking your 2020 Democratic candidate for you!” Delaney wrote in a tweet.The DNC is...

Bill Would Allow Residents to File Taxes, Sign Up for Health Insurance at Same...

A measure to encourage low-income Maryland residents to sign up for health insurance on their tax returns has been amended by a key committee.Under the amended bill, an uninsured Marylander can start the enrollment process by checking a box on their state income tax return, said Vincent DeMarco, head of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative, the group backing the effort.The committee rejected a core component of the original proposal, a $700-a-year penalty for not having health insurance, a feature patterned after the original version of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.The sponsors of House Bill 814 and...

Cardin: Senate Had ‘No Choice’ on Trump Emergency Declaration

U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) said Thursday that Congress had “no choice” but to vote to overturn President Trump’s emergency declaration on border security.The Republican-led Senate delivered a stinging rebuke to Trump by voting to approve a resolution to end the national emergency he declared at the southern U.S. border.The chamber voted 59-41 with 12 Republicans siding with Democrats to approve the resolution already passed by the Democratic-led House. The vote marks a symbolic defeat for Trump, who has said he’ll veto the resolution when it heads to his desk.Trump’s opposition is likely to kill the effort --...

Hogan Admin Hopes B-W Parkway Potholes Buttress State Takeover Bid

The Baltimore-Washington Parkway has deteriorated to the point that it now resembles a road motorists would find in a “poverty-stricken nation,” a transportation expert said after driving on the dilapidated highway.And the Hogan administration — which called the parkway’s condition “unacceptable — said the federal government’s failure to maintain the road buttresses its claim that the U.S. should transfer control of it to the state.On March 1, the National Park Service, which maintains the roadway (at least in theory), lowered the speed limit on the southbound section of the parkway below Route 32 to 40 mph.The decision was a tacit acknowledgment that traveling...

Senate to Vote on Retiree Drug Benefit Plan

The Maryland Senate is poised to vote on a change to state retiree pharmacy benefits on Wednesday morning, with a bill that is more expensive than a 2011 reform, but less costly than maintaining the current program indefinitely.The state’s current program, which moves Medicare-eligible retirees onto Medicare Part D, while also including additional wraparound coverage, remains in place as the result of a federal injunction, which will continue the current benefit as a lawsuit winds through the courts and could be extended longer if plaintiffs prevail in their class-action claims.The issue has rocked Annapolis since retirees received notice in...

House Committee Again Considering State Song Repeal

During a legislative session marked by a House of Delegates censure over a lawmaker’s use of a racial slur, legislators should make a statement by removing a relic of racial tensions from the list of official state designations, an advocate told the Health and Government Operations Committee on Tuesday.“Recent events in Virginia and in our own State House have reinforced the power of symbols and that words really matter,” Ginger Macomber, a Montgomery County resident who is married to a black man and has biracial children, said. “And we need to do more to correct these symbols.”She was testifying...