March 28 // Lawmakers agree to Hogan's $28 million school funding offer

The General Assembly's budget leaders agreed Monday to accept Gov. Larry Hogan's offer of $28 million to help the Baltimore school system and others around the state where enrollment has declined, abandoning a proposal to bail out the districts without his assistance. The apparent resolution would help the city school system close a $130 million budget shortfall in exchange for submitting to new state auditing requirements. Other jurisdictions would receive money to help close smaller budget gaps. The deal came as a Senate and House conference committee wrapped up negotiations on the state's $43.5 billion budget for next year. (Balt. Sun)

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Rep. Esty legislative chief joins Baltimore firm

Rep. Elizabeth Esty's (D-Conn.) former legislative director and campaign manager has traveled 40 miles north for a new public affairs job. Tom Stewart is now vice president of KOFA Public Affairs, a Baltimore-based lobbying firm with offices in D.C. and Delaware. Stewart, who holds degrees from Johns Hopkins and Buena Vista University, had worked on the Hill since coming on board as former Rep. Leonard Boswell's (D-Iowa) legislative assistant in 2010. He joined Esty's office after Boswell's 2012 electoral defeat, taking a leave of absence to work as the congresswoman's campaign manager last fall. (legistorm.com)

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Jeff Sessions calls Maryland sanctuary proposal 'a mistake'

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said it would be “a mistake” for Maryland lawmakers to pass legislation that would limit law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Speaking at the White House Monday, Mr. Sessions said the Justice Department intends to begin punishing sanctuary cities by cutting federal grants from jurisdictions that refuse to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Cooperation between local police and federal immigration officials would help to get illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes off the streets and out of the country, he said. (Wash. Times)

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Rep. Andy Harris says health care fight not over

Rep. Andy Harris, part of the conservative Freedom Caucus that helped tank President Donald Trump's health care legislation, said Monday that Republicans only needed a little more time to reach an agreement and that the House should return to the issue later this year. The 30-plus-member bloc of deficit hawks has found itself under fire from some in the GOP as congressional leaders and the White House assess what went wrong with their plan to repeal the Obamacare health insurance law — and begin to assign blame. That soul-searching could have implications for the rest of Trump's legislative agenda, including tax reform, infrastructure investment and spending cuts. (Balt. Sun)

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Governor visits Harford as part of Maryland Day

Gov. Larry Hogan had a whirlwind of public appearances in the Baltimore region Saturday as part of the Maryland Day observance, and he spent the majority of his time in Harford County. The APG Federal Credit Union Area at Harford Community College was Hogan's first stop. He and First Lady Yumi Hogan were the honorary chairs of the inaugural Maryland Governor's Cup Taekwondo Championship. The championship, which drew youth and adult competitors from around the Mid-Atlantic region, was put on by the Maryland State Taekwondo Association with support from the Korean Taekwondo Association of Maryland. (Balt. Sun)

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Legislature braces for ACA repeal despite Congress’s failure

The Maryland House of Delegates on Friday adopted its version and a Senate version of the Maryland Health Insurance Coverage Protection Act to plan for the potential loss of $4 billion in annual Medicare and Medicaid dollars that flow to the state annually, should the Republican-controlled Congress succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act. The loss of funding could result in 400,000 Marylanders losing their health coverage, according to analysis from the Maryland Department of Legislative Services released in January to assess the impact of repeal. But during floor debate on Friday morning, Warren Miller, R-Howard, asked if the measure could be delayed pending the outcome of a scheduled 3:30 vote in Congress on the American Health Care Act, the GOP’s replacement to the ACA. (Md. Reporter)

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March 27 // Maryland Democrats announce pair of bills to battle heroin crisis

Some three-dozen Democratic members of the General Assembly gathered Friday to announce a pair of bills they think could help battle the rising rate of heroin overdose deaths across Maryland. The bills, which form part of a broader package of legislation, focus on educating people about the dangers of heroin and other opioids and expanding access to treatment for addicts. (Balt. Sun)

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Maryland House passes first major ethics bill in over a decade

The Maryland House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Friday that would update the state's ethics laws. It would require more disclosure of lawmakers' conflicts of interest and put some new limits on legislators' advocacy for private businesses. The bill would make the first major changes to state ethics rules in more than a decade. (Balt. Sun)

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