Winners and losers from 2015 legislative session
A Message From Bobby
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By Bryan P. Sears, Daily Record Business Writer
Gov. Larry Hogan: Bipartisan Hogan got some of his legislative priorities, including a bill from Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. that dealt with Hogan’s “rain tax” as well as no new taxes, and he’s working on changing how state agencies do business with businesses in Maryland. He also showed a willingness to negotiate on tough issues like the phosphorous management tool.
Stormwater management fee supporters. The governor declared victory, but supporters of the so-called rain tax traded up. In exchange for an alleged mandate to charge a fee (let’s be honest, affected jurisdictions were already charging or not charging as they see fit) supporters got stricter state oversight.
Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin: He achieved quickie divorces for childless couples and raised the cap on Maryland and local government tort claims while surviving his first year as Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chair.
Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin: He lost out on the chairmanship of Judicial Proceedings, getting to run the Executive Nominations Committe as consolation, but he gained passage of Second Chance Act and now launches congressional bid to succeed Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Unemployed Attorneys: Legislators left Judiciary’s Appointed Attorneys Program undisturbed, meaning anyone licensed to practice law in Maryland can continue to earn $50 per hour to represent arrestees at initial bail hearings.
Del. Kumar Barve: The new chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee helped craft a compromise on the phosphorous management tool. Additionally, his committee passed out what is likely a first-in-the country moratorium on fracking.
Environmental groups: They got a fracking moratorium bill out of Sen. Joan Carter Conway’s committee and a phosphorous management tool compromise they could live with.
Del. Maggie McIntosh: The newly minted chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee managed to craft a budget that encompassed priorities important to her party while garnering the unanimous support of her entire committee. The version of the budget brought to the floor ultimately picked up the support of all but 10 Republicans.
Licensed Beverage Industry: Its members agreed to a voluntary ban on the sale of powdered alcohol — palcohol, if you will — before legislators passed a bill that officially bans it. They also beat back another attempt by David and Robert Trone of Total Wine and More to expand the number of licenses that can be owned by an individual.
Felons: The General Assembly passed versions of the Second Chance Act, which allows certain criminal convictions to be shielded from the public and prospective employers, and a bill restoring the ability to vote for persons who have served their time in jail but have not yet completed parole or probation periods. One legislator joked on the floor that it was the “Year of the Felon.”
Gov. Larry Hogan: Bipartisan Hogan has an alter-ego, the one that angered lawmakers over the State of the State speech and his 11th hour proposed change to the budget. That governor has nine months to figure out how to build a better relationship with lawmakers, who are almost certainly looking to 2018.
Schoolchildren: A whopping 72 percent of state residents in one poll support delaying the start of school until after Labor Day. Regardless, most kids in the state will be back in the classroom before the holiday after the legislature rejected a later start.
Vinnie DeMarco: The genial purveyor of tobacco taxes came to Annapolis armed with a majority of House and Senate members willing to raise taxes on tobacco. He ran into a governor who vowed to block any tax increase plan. One thing is certain — the indefatigable DeMarco and his tobacco tax increase proposal will be back in 2016.
House and Senate Republicans: A final vote on the budget essentially became a party call and forced Republicans on both sides of the State House to vote against it after voting for a mostly similar spending plan weeks earlier.
State Employees: They may not get their 2 percent raises, despite the best efforts of some in the legislature, and they will also not likely see additional money pumped into an underfunded state pension system.
Maryland State Education Association: They went all in for Anthony Brown, the losing Democratic gubernatorial nominee. While others, such as the League of Conservation Voters, found ways to reach agreements with Hogan, the state’s largest teacher’s union took a different tact. No deals for them.
Sen. Richard Madaleno: A savvy, effective lawmaker who wanted to make a point about a discriminatory law in Indiana, he stumbled badly when he made an ill-advised reference to Hogan’s wife, Yumi, and her divorce from her first husband.
Del. Hasan Jay Jalisi: The freshman Baltimore County Democrat came to Annapolis already under a cloud related to whether he lives in the district he represents and for owning, for a time, a building that had received substantial fines for lead paint issues. Within weeks, Jalisi became the subject of a domestic violence protection order filed by his daughter. He ultimately agreed to stay away from his daughter for a period of a year. Jalisi was reassigned from the House Judiciary Committee.