Politics

  • Hogan's budget draws praise and criticism

    The Maryland Senate Republican Caucus is praising Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget, which was unveiled last week. “What we’ve got here is evidence of Gov. Hogan following through on his campaign-trail promises," Sen. George Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, said in a news release from the caucus. "Plenty of people doubted that he could balance the budget without raising taxes or fees, but that’s exactly what he’s done." But the Maryland Democratic Party criticized the budget, calling Hogan “every bit the conservative Republican that he tried to hide during the campaign.” (Herald-Mail) Read Full Article

  • Hogan people's celebration made for average citizen

    They came by the hundreds, wearing jeans and baseball caps, and rocked to live country music as they partied with the new Republican governor they helped vote into office. Dubbed the "people's celebration," the event Saturday night at Sailwinds Park in Cambridge was a more laid-back affair than the traditional inaugural ball held Wednesday for Gov. Larry Hogan. It was also a way for Hogan to show his appreciation for the Eastern Shore electorate, which provided some of the largest vote margins in his upset over Democrat Anthony Brown. Hogan became Maryland's 62nd governor and just the third Republican to hold that position in the last half-century. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Overdose deaths from heroin galvanizing leaders in Maryland and Virginia

    Political leaders in Annapolis and Richmond are searching for ways to combat a wave of heroin overdoses that is killing dozens of their constituents each month — in inner-city neighborhoods, suburbs and rural enclaves. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has declared reducing heroin use a priority and put his lieutenant governor in charge of finding solutions. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) introduced a package of heroin-related bills in the past week that would, among other provisions, increase criminal penalties for drug dealers who supply lethal doses and reduce penalties for drug users who seek help for friends who have overdosed. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article...

  • Baltimore weighs in on immigration lawsuit

    Baltimore joined dozens of cities Friday to support President Barack Obama's actions on immigration — weighing in on a federal lawsuit that has divided state and local leaders over the economic impact of having people in the country without legal documentation. Texas and 24 other states are arguing in court that Obama's plan to delay deportation for millions of immigrants will force them to spend more on schools, public safety and health care. A dozen states, including Maryland, have countered that bringing immigrants out of the shadows will help increase wages and expand tax bases. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

Center Maryland

  • A New Mandate to Hit Maryland Employers?

    By: Walt Townshend & Christine Walters Legislation is once again being proposed in Maryland that will significantly impact many employers.  Entitled the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act, SB 40, the bill has been introduced in previous sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, and is part of a national wave, as alluded to by President Obama in his State of the Union address, when he asked Congress to “Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave.”Read Full Article

  • Delegate Dan. Morhaim, M.D. – Addressing the Looming Crisis in Access to Maternity Healthcare

    Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D. visits Center Maryland to discuss his support for the creation of a no-fault injured baby fund to address the looming crisis of reduced access to maternity care across the state. Dr. Morhaim explains that the fund, paid for by hospitals, will provide the lifetime care to all families and will prevent the closing of birthing centers that other states have faced due to rising medical liability costs.Watch Full Video

  • Donald Fry: Governor Hogan’s role as chief evaluator and reformer

    A day after his inauguration pledge to offer a “fresh approach” in Annapolis, Governor Hogan introduces a budget to eliminate structural deficit and put Maryland on sound fiscal footing.Read Full Article

  • Laslo Boyd: Peter Franchot 3.0

    Once upon a time, a delegate named Peter Franchot represented Montgomery County in the Maryland General Assembly.  Franchot was elected five times, served on various sub-committees of the House Appropriations Committee, and was widely seen as one of the most progressive members of the Democratic Party.  He might even have accepted the label of “tax and spend liberal.”Read Full Article

Business

  • Hogan's budget includes some cuts, some status quo for economic development programs

    Advocates for programs spending state dollars on stem cell research or investment in technology companies were nervous about what Gov. Larry Hogan's budget would hold for them, given warnings of "strong medicine" to cure fiscal woes. But after Hogan's spending plan was unveiled Friday, they were relieved to find that the Republican's business-friendly message spared several economic development programs that were popular under Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Business leaders bullish on Hogan budget

    Business leaders in the state acknowledged that Gov. Larry Hogan made very tough choices in his first budget, which he says eliminates a $750 million structural deficit, but they remain optimistic that it sets the state on a path to better fiscal health. Although there were some concerns about the loss and reduction of some tax credits, business leaders said they believed the budget puts Maryland on a more stable fiscal path that will help improve the business climate. The budget takes such cost-cutting measures as reducing funding for state agencies 2 percent across the board, cutting $25 million in aid to local governments and slashing the education formula known as the Geographic Cost of Education Index by 50 percent. (Daily Record) Read Full Article

  • Horseshoe Casino, stadiums face fewer liquor inspections than smaller bars

    The Ravens and Orioles stadiums haven't undergone a liquor board inspection in years, records show. The Royal Farms Arena? Not since 2013. And at Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino — home of the city's only 24-7 liquor license — officials have yet to conduct an unannounced inspection. The liquor board says that's about to change. Officials at Baltimore's liquor board are pledging more consistent treatment of establishments that sell alcoholic beverages after acknowledging that some large venues have not been subject to the unannounced inspections that smaller bars and restaurants routinely undergo. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

  • Proposal to reduce slots, add table games at 2 casinos draws skepticism from state legislators

    A proposal to reduce the number of slot machines and add table games at two of the state's casinos has state legislators worried the move will lower the amount tax revenue the gaming venues generate. The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and Maryland Live! Casino are requesting to trim their pool of slot machines by 300 each. In place, the Horseshoe would add 30 table games, and Maryland Live! would add 13 tables — a measure casino operators say would ultimately increase overall revenue at the gaming venues, as well as the portion allocated to state in taxes. (Balt. Bus. Journal)Read Full Article

Education

  • Incoming USM chancellor to ‘fight hard’ for low tuition

    When Robert L. Caret assumes his new role as chancellor of the University System of Maryland in July, he won’t be starting from square one. Not only is Caret already familiar with USM institutions and Maryland politics — thanks to a previous gig of president of Towson University — he’s spent the past few weeks brushing up on local news and refreshing old relationships. The incoming chancellor said he’s spent a lot of time listening to the issues people say are important in higher education right now. Chief among them: college completion rates, the handling of on-campus sexual assaults — and, of course, tuition and other budget issues. (Daily Record) Read Full Article

  • Lawmakers, superintendents discuss school after Labor Day initiative

    Eastern Shore school superintendents on Friday, Jan. 23, urged members of the Eastern Shore Delegation to consider the “unintended consequences” of a school year that starts after Labor Day. Dr. Henry Wagner Jr., president of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium and superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools, said the state requiring schools to start after Labor Day will further erode the local autonomy of school boards. (Star-Democrat) Read Full Article

  • Montgomery parents plead for later high school start times

    Parents in Montgomery County made impassioned pleas Thursday for later high school starting times, sharing personal stories of teenagers who barely function in the pre-dawn darkness, fall asleep during early classes and fight chronic exhaustion. At two public hearings, an overwhelming majority supported shifting the hours of the school day, some bringing handmade placards and others attending with pajama-clad children. Many cited research findings. Some called for political courage. (Wash. Post)Read Full...

  • Professorial workload high, report says

    Professors at most institutions in the state university system generally average teaching more classes than is expected, according to a new workload report. It is compiled annually by officials of the University System of Maryland and adds figures about other qualities aimed at touting the system’s universities. (Star-Democrat) Read Full Article

Around Maryland

  • Counties reconsider stormwater fees

    In Frederick County, property owners pay just a penny per year for stormwater fees. Carroll County residents pay nothing. Harford County just repealed its stormwater fees and Baltimore County is poised to cut its fees by a third. And Howard County's new county executive is mulling whether to seek a reduction. For opponents of increased fees and taxes, these rollbacks represent a victory over what's critics deride as a "rain tax" unfairly levied on urban and suburban residents and businesses. But it also raises the question whether the counties will have enough money to pay their share of cleaning up polluted stormwater that harms rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Baltimore City to take earlier, more aggressive approach to abandoned houses

    Past the manicured laws and tidy red brick rowhomes along Stonewood Road in Baltimore's New Northwood neighborhood sits one house that shows the ravages of years of neglect. Councilman Bill Henry says neighbors call City Hall regularly to complain, and to plead with officials to force the owner to fix the place up. But so far, the city's efforts have been fruitless. But Henry thinks the city has found a solution. A new law set to take effect next month will allow Baltimore officials to take over an abandoned home earlier than currently allowed, when an empty property begins to show signs of neglect but before it has a chance to fall into the level of disrepair that risks dragging down the entire neighborhood. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

  • Rawlings-Blake on 'Deflategate': Ravens should play Seahawks in Super Bowl

    On NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake weighed in on the controversy surrounding the New England Patriots, who are being accused of cheating for using underinflated footballs during their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game. The Patriots narrowly beat the Ravens, 35-31, in the second round of the NFL playoffs a week earlier. Addressing the controversy on the national politics show "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd told Rawlings-Blake: "I know you want the Patriots totally disbarred from the Super Bowl." The mayor responded: "I think there is a very simple way to resolve this whole issue: #RavensSeahawksSuperBowl." (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Pollution down, but Chesapeake Bay no healthier - yet

    The Chesapeake Bay's ecological health has actually dipped slightly in recent years, even though pollution levels improved in 2013, according to federal scientists. The amounts of nutrient and sediment pollution flowing into the bay fell in 2013 below the long-term average for the past 25 years, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Friday. But most of the bay and the tidal portions of its rivers remain seriously impaired, the agency said, meeting just 29 percent of water-quality standards from 2011 to 2013. That's down 2 percent from the previous three years. (Balt. Sun)Read Full Article

Commentary

  • Robert McCartney: Larry Hogan’s initial budget wasn’t nearly as bad as big Maryland suburbs feared

    Well, that was a relief. New Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s first budget doesn’t wreak nearly as much damage as feared on Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, even though both voted against him decisively in November. Sure, it’s partly low expectations. If ex-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), whom Hogan (R) defeated, had proposed exactly the same measures, political leaders in the two big Washington suburbs would have been aghast. Instead, Hogan’s initial budget rollout last week allayed concerns aroused by his strong, anti-spending rhetoric during the campaign. (Wash. Post) Read Full Article

  • Barry Rascovar: Hogan’s placeholder budget

    Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. must be doing something right in his first few days in office because he’s got nearly everyone upset about his $40 billion budget. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, lobbying groups of all shapes and sizes are griping about parts of the new governor’s spending plan. That’s a good thing: Hogan needed to dispassionately cut $1.25 billion to present a balanced budget, which meant making everyone uncomfortable. In reality, this is a placeholder budget for Hogan. The more substantive and important task of analyzing Maryland spending and eliminating or paring down non-essential expenditures on a permanent basis will be reflected in Hogan’s budget next year. (Md. Reporter)Read Full Article

  • Chartering success

    A new report by the Abell Foundation concludes that Maryland needs to dramatically increase the state's efforts to recruit successful charter school organizations in order to boost achievement levels among low-income minority students in underperforming public schools. It's a finding that has been echoed by several recent studies, and officials are apparently beginning to take heed. Given Gov. Larry Hogan's pledge to make expanded access to charter schools a priority for his administration —and his appointment this month of former Del. Kieffer Mitchell as a special adviser on the issue —lawmakers need to step up to the plate this year and finally ensure Maryland families have access to the expanded range of choices for educating their children that charter schools can offer. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article

  • Harry Weiss and Jeffrey Kupfer: A path forward for responsible gas shale regulations

    Newly inaugurated Gov. Larry Hogan and his team have only a few weeks to review and take action on the previous administration's proposed "gold standard" rules governing oil and gas development in Western Maryland, or the regulations will go into effect. Governor Hogan has every right to thoroughly review, modify or even pull back the draft regulations; at the same time, his team should recognize and credit the exhaustive and productive work conducted by former Gov. Martin O'Malley's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission. (Balt. Sun) Read Full Article