General Assembly | WYPR

General Assembly

Rachel Baye / WYPR


When Democrat Kweisi Mfume won Tuesday’s special primary election to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, he became the presumptive winner of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings’ seat — even though there’s also a Republican nominee for the seat and less than a fifth of the district’s voters cast a ballot. Political analysts say that’s in part because Maryland’s congressional districts are designed to give Democrats an outsized advantage. 

 

Creating a nonpartisan process for drawing the districts has been a priority for Gov. Larry Hogan since early on in his first term, but his continued calls for action appear likely to be ignored for yet another legislative session.

Rachel Baye


  In his annual State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Larry Hogan urged the members of the General Assembly to address Baltimore’s soaring crime rates, calling them an “urgent crisis.” 

Rachel Baye / WYPR


The Maryland General Assembly voted Thursday to override five vetoes the governor issued last year. One of these laws prohibits employers with at least 15 workers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after an in-person interview.

Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun


Former state Del. Cheryl Glenn pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal bribery and wire fraud charges. Prosecutors say she accepted more than $33,000 in exchange for political favors. 

Rachel Baye


  Gov. Larry Hogan is expected to release on Wednesday a proposed $47.9-billion budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Hogan told reporters on Tuesday that the budget includes money for initiatives intended to reduce crime in Baltimore, though he had not yet released the full budget for the public or lawmakers to review.

publicdomainpictures.net

On Wednesday, January 8, the 2020 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly convened in Annapolis.  For the next 90 days, state lawmakers in the House of Delegates and the Senate will be deliberating over a daunting array of legislative measures, addressing everything from education reform to transportation initiatives, health care, crime reduction, ethics reform, and much, much more. 

On Tuesday, Midday's Tom Hall spoke with the Assembly’s new leadersSenate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones.  Yesterday, we talked about the session’s number one legislative priority, funding major reforms in education, with two former County Executives...

Today, Tom focuses on some other matters that Maryland lawmakers will take up this year.  Later this hour, he's joined by WYPR State House reporter Rachel Baye and Josh Kurtz, co-founder and editor of Maryland Matters.

But he begins with Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr., the newly appointed Chief Legislative Officer for Governor Larry Hogan.   Mr. Mitchell, a Baltimore native, served previously as Gov. Hogan’s senior advisor. He is a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates and the Baltimore City Council.  Keiffer Mitchell joins Tom on the line from his office in Annapolis. 

Rachel Baye


The General Assembly kicked off its 441st legislative session on Wednesday with new people leading both the Senate and the House of Delegates. That hasn’t happened for 33 years — since outgoing Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. first stepped into the role. 

The number one challenge facing lawmakers in Annapolis this year is how to pay for a sweeping proposal from the Kirwan Commission aimed at improving Maryland's K-12 public education.

Rushern Baker was the Prince George’s County Executive from 2010 until 2018. From 1994 until 2003, Mr. Baker represented District 22B in the Maryland House of Delegates. He ran for governor of Maryland in 2018, but he lost in the Democratic primary to Ben Jealous.

Don Mohler was appointed Baltimore County Executive upon the death of then-County Executive Kevin Kamenetz in May 2018. Mohler served the final seven months of Kamenetz’s term.  Mr. Mohler had served as a spokesman and chief of staff to Kamenetz and his predecessor, Jim Smith.  Mohler began his career as an educator, working for 30 years in the Baltimore County public school system as a teacher, an administrator and then the assistant superintendent of schools.

We livestreamed this conversation on the WYPR Facebook page.  Click here to watch. 

Rachel Baye


Gov. Larry Hogan hopes to increase the penalties for state politicians convicted of corruption. He announced the legislation Tuesday, just weeks after federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment of a Baltimore lawmaker for allegedly accepting more than 33 thousand dollars in bribes.

When the General Assembly opens its annual 90-day session Wednesday, Hogan noted, it will be the latest in a string of sessions to start shortly after a House or Senate member faced criminal charges. 

Photos courtesy Bill Ferguson, Adrienne Jones

Tom sits down at the State House with Senate President Designate Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones for a preview of their priorities as the General Assembly begins a historic new chapter. 

Senator Bill Ferguson is expected to be elected Senate President, succeeding Mike Miller, who held the job for longer than any Senate President in the country. 

Delegate Adrienne Jones will preside over her first full session as Speaker of the House of Delegates.  She is the first woman and the first African American to be elected Speaker, succeeding Mike Busch, who passed away last April. 

The central challenge of this year’s session: revamping the funding formula for MD schools.  Can lawmakers find consensus on Kirwan?

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  Typically when state lawmakers return to Annapolis for the annual 90-day legislative session, each brings a unique set of priorities. But when the General Assembly convenes for its 441st session on Wednesday, one subject is poised to overshadow almost everything else:  A proposal to overhaul public education in Maryland. 

Democratic leaders in the state Senate and House of Delegates say they are confident the legislature will pass the sweeping education reforms recommended by what is known as the Kirwan Commission, and they say they won’t raise taxes to pay for the plan.

Flickr-Creative Commons

The Maryland General Assembly convenes on Wednesday with new leaders in both chambers and several committees. In the House, Del. Adrienne Jones is the first black speaker, and the first female. The Senate is set to elect Bill Ferguson its president. Both say their priorities are building new schools and re-shaping how teaching is done.

Rachel Baye

Former state Del. Cheryl Glenn accepted $33,750 in bribes between March 2018 and February 2019 in exchange for supporting several bills in Annapolis, according to criminal charges filed in federal court in July and unsealed Monday.

Rachel Baye

State Del. Cheryl Glenn resigned Wednesday, effective immediately. Glenn was the chair of the Baltimore City delegation in the House of Delegates and previously led the Legislative Black Caucus in Annapolis.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones announced Glenn’s resignation Thursday morning. Jones said Glenn didn’t give a reason for stepping down.

Office of the Governor

Governor Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that Maryland will move forward with the long-delayed State Center project. It was the second time in 17 months he’s made that announcement.

Back in June 2018 the governor issued a call for developers interested in taking over the project, which has been tied up in lawsuits.

He said then he was “pleased to announce that we are finally able to move forward” with the project despite “15 years of inaction and failure.”

Rachel Baye

Chronic understaffing at several state agencies is forcing employees to work 80-hour workweeks and endure dangerous work environments, some employees told state lawmakers at a briefing Tuesday.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announced Thursday that he is relinquishing his gavel when the General Assembly returns to Annapolis in January. The 76 year old has cancer and several related health issues.

“My mind is still strong but my body is weak,” Miller said at a press conference Thursday. “This is a fulltime job. It’s a statewide job. And we need somebody younger.”

Rachel Baye

The Maryland Senate will have a new leader for the first time in 33 years when the legislature reconvenes in January.

As expected, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, the longest continuously serving state Senate president in the country, announced Thursday that he will step down from his leadership role.

Rachel Baye

A state panel has proposed a highly anticipated revamp of the formula Maryland uses to fund public schools. The new formula would facilitate a major overhaul of public education in the state that would eventually increase spending on schools by roughly $4 billion a year.

The formula gradually increases the state’s share of education costs so that in the year 2030, the state would spend an additional $2.8 billion. Local jurisdictions would be on the hook for the remaining $1.2 billion.

Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun

A longtime member of the House of Delegates from Prince George’s County, Tawanna Gaines, has been charged with federal wire fraud. Gaines resigned from the legislature on Friday.

Prosecutors say Gaines collected more than $22,000 from campaign supporters in a PayPal account, then used that money on personal expenses. Gaines did not disclose the PayPal account in state campaign finance records.

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

Gov. Larry Hogan has vetoed eight bills passed by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly and will let hundreds of others become law without his signature, his office announced Friday. 

Shaneka Henson

Shaneka Henson was sworn in on Thursday to the Maryland House of Delegates, where she occupies the seat held by House Speaker Michael Busch until he died last month. Henson is the first African American woman to represent the district in the General Assembly.

Rachel Baye

The race for speaker of the House of Delegates has narrowed. Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones announced at a press conference Friday that she is dropping out of the running and backing Economic Matters Committee Chairman Dereck Davis in an effort to elect Maryland’s first African American speaker. Both Davis and Jones are African American.

Rachel Baye

 

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings issued a warning this week:  When the House of Delegates elects a new speaker on Wednesday, Democratic members need to unite behind a single candidate for speaker, or else lose access to state party tools and resources.

Cummings was responding to an announcement by House Republicans that they plan to maximize the strength of their 42 votes by uniting behind one of the three Democrats vying for the position.

Rachel Baye

The late Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch arrived at the State House Monday for the last time. Busch died on April 7 at the age of 72.

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly wrapped up its 439th session Monday night in Annapolis, and for the first time since 2003, Michael Busch wasn’t overseeing the House of Delegates as speaker. Busch died Sunday at the age of 72 after he was hospitalized with pneumonia.

The frenzied, celebratory atmosphere that’s typical on the last day of the General Assembly’s 90-day session was marred by Busch’s absence.

Rachel Baye / WYPR

The General Assembly voted Monday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill prohibiting oyster harvesting in five Chesapeake Bay tributaries — Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River and the Manokin River.

Rachel Baye

The death Sunday of Michael Busch, Maryland's longest serving Speaker of the House of Delegates, has cast a pall over Maryland’s General Assembly as it rushes toward its adjournment at midnight Monday.

Reports of his death at the age of 72 brought a flood of fond memories from his friends and colleagues in the State House as well as others who have known the former high school teacher and football coach for years.

Rachel Baye

The House of Delegates voted along party lines Friday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill prohibiting oyster harvesting in five Chesapeake Bay tributaries — Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River and the Manokin River.

Wikimedia Commons

The House passed and the Senate gave initial approval on Wednesday to legislation that would reshape the board of directors at the University of Maryland Medical System and prevent board members from using their positions for personal financial gain. The bills are the result of recent revelations that the hospital awarded its board members — including Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh — hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts.  WYPR state politics reporter Rachel Baye discussed the effort with Nathan Sterner.

Pages