THE TRUMP EFFECT: In a normal year, the partisan jab on the floor of the Maryland Senate would have drawn only eye rolls. A Democratic senator used the ceremonial introduction of guests to slip in a reference to suspected Russian meddling in the presidential election. But like much in politics since the election of President Donald J. Trump, this was not a normal year in the Maryland General Assembly, writes Ian Duncan and Erin Cox for the Sun.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD AID: Maryland became the first state in the nation to agree to reimburse Planned Parenthood clinics for their services if Congress defunds the organization, after Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the bill to become law Thursday without his signature, Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks of the Post report. And in a second victory for progressives, a top aide to House Speaker Michael E. Busch said a bill to allow judges to require bail for poor defendants would not get a vote in the House.
MARYLAND UNDER THREAT: In an op-ed for the Post, progressive Hal Ginsberg writes that Maryland, particularly Montgomery County, has become a bright spot in the national health-care picture. From 2012 to 2015, subsidies to health insurance purchasers and the expansion of Maryland's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act caused the percentage of uninsured Marylanders to fall from 10.1% to 6.7%, where the national average is 9.4% In 2014, the state pushed to increase reliance on community-based health centers, rather than emergency rooms, generating healthier outcomes at a lower cost. Tragically, Republican threats to the ACA are jeopardizing these gains.
HOGAN SIGHS WITH RELIEF: In a column for MarylandReporter, Barry Rascovar opines that when the clock strikes 12 tonight, Gov. Hogan will breathe a huge sigh of relief. There have been few reasons for Hogan to take comfort in his dealings with the state legislature this year - or indeed for the two earlier 90-day sessions. Hogan and President Trump want to run things the way they did as private-sector real estate CEOs. Working cooperatively with a large, diverse and divisive legislature isn't in their DNA. Nor is give-and-take compromise.
MD REPS PUSH HOGAN ON CLIMATE:
Maryland's Democratic members of the House of Representatives have joined the chorus of environmental advocates urging Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to denounce President Trump's climate policies, including his decision this month to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Josh Hicks of the Post reports that the seven lawmakers sent a letter to Hogan on Thursday, two days before he is scheduled to begin a week-long trade mission to London and Paris, asking him to "vocally and forcefully reject" Trump's actions.
Krishanti Vignarajah, former State Department senior advisor, in an opinion piece for the Post, calls the Gov. Hogan's response to President Trump's decision on the Paris climate accord "tepid ambivalence (that) is not leadership." He continues, "If this were Hogan's only transgression when it comes to Maryland's natural resources, he might be excused. Unfortunately, it is the latest in a string of failures that threatens to make Maryland's reversals on safeguarding the environment almost as abrupt and unconscionable as the president's."