State Roundup: It’s The Final Day Of Session And Some Fees And Taxes Will Rise; Aid For Port Workers Is A Priority

LAST DAY OF SESSION: FEES & TAXES WILL BE RAISED: WILL THEY AFFECT YOU? In order to raise hundreds of millions more dollars each year for the Maryland’s transportation, education and trauma programs, state lawmakers are raising a variety of fees and taxes. They avoided broad-based hikes in income taxes or sales taxes, in favor of targeted ways to raise revenue. But if you own a car, take an Uber or smoke cigarettes, you’ll feel the pinch. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

SENATE SPENDS SATURDAY MOVING BILLS FORWARD: In the Senate chamber, lawmakers moved swiftly through dozens of bills in a Saturday afternoon session. The legislative flow was only disrupted occasionally, due to brief technical errors, confusion over which bills were being discussed, or senators away from their seats. One of Gov. Wes Moore’s priority bills, which works to increase affordable housing opportunities, received a last-minute change Saturday. Danielle Brown/Maryland Matters.

AID FOR PORT EMPLOYEES A KEY PRIORITY: Maryland lawmakers will convene today for the final day of their legislative session, largely putting the finishing touches on priority legislation that includes a measure to help employees at the Port of Baltimore affected by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. The measure authorizing use of the state’s rainy day fund to help port employees has strong support and was expected to pass. Brian Witte/The Associated Press.

FATE OF PIMLICO OWNERSHIP HANGS IN THE BALANCE: The fate of a plan to revive Maryland’s thoroughbred racing industry by having the state take ownership of Pimlico Race Course hangs in the balance as state lawmakers embark on the final day of their annual session Monday. The House of Delegates has approved a bill needed to make the plan work, but Senate President Bill Ferguson predicted that the final decision in his chamber could go down to the wire. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

BILL PUTTING GUARDRAILS ON ELECTRICITY MARKETPLACE TEETERS: As state lawmakers move closer to passing new guardrails on the state’s retail electricity marketplace, an opposition army in the form of a dozen Constellation trucks arrived on Friday. The measure has broad support in the legislature, at least among the Democrats, and has passed both chambers. But it is teetering on the final day because the House and Senate bills are different and must be reconciled in the next several hours. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters.

SENATE PRES CALLS SESSION ‘UNBELIEVABLY PRODUCTIVE:’ With an abundance of confidence and three days left until the end of the session, Senate leadership Friday reflected on their legislative wins and how they plan to tackle the hundreds of bills yet to pass. “This has been an unbelievably productive session, and we are landing the plane at a time when Maryland has a great deal of uncertainty,” Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said at a news conference Friday morning. “But Marylanders should be proud of the work we’ve been able to do together.” Hannah Gaskill/The Baltimore Sun.

BIPARTISANSHIP IN ANNAPOLIS REALLY DOES EXIST: Bipartisanship in Annapolis really does exist. Just ask Del. Adrian Boafo, who wanted to help formerly incarcerated people find housing. Boafo, a Black millennial Democrat from Prince George’s County, is working with Sen. Chris West, a white boomer Republican from Baltimore County. Pamela Wood/The Baltimore Banner.

POLL FINDS MARYLANDERS’ WORRY ABOUT HOUSING COSTS RISING: Maryland voters are increasingly concerned with the cost of housing, a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll finds. Nearly 1 in 5 registered voters cite affordable housing as the state’s top problem, up from 13 percent in 2019 to 19 percent in March. Roughly 3 in 4 voters say Maryland housing is “extremely expensive” or “very expensive,” including most voters in every region of the state. Katie Shepherd, Erin Cox, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin/The Washington Post.

BIDEN PLEDGES HELP TO REBUILD KEY BRIDGE, AID PORT: President Joe Biden pledged Friday to fight for federal funding to rebuild the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, promising to “move heaven and earth” during a Friday visit to the disaster site. “We will do so with union labor and American steel,” Biden told a group of local officials and first responders gathered for his afternoon remarks at the Port of Baltimore. Lisa Woelfl and Mathew J. Schumer of Capital News Service/

NEW CHANNEL TO BE OPENED BY END OF APRIL: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will open “a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep, to the Port of Baltimore within the next four weeks—by the end of April.” The Corps said the channel will support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore “for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.” Mike Hellgren, Adam Thompson and Kelsey Kushner/WJZ-TV News.

BODY OF 3rd CONSTRUCTION WORKER RECOVERED; MEMORIAL CREATED: Dive teams recovered the body of a third construction worker at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge wreckage on Friday. The teams recovered the body of 38-year-old Maynor Yasir Suazo-Sandoval at approximately 10:30 Friday morning. Andrew Adeolu/WJZ-TV News.

  • His cousin, Héctor Suazo, on Friday evening said he learned the news at noon in Honduras. The family is distraught, he said, calling the news “tough but comforting.” Clara Longo de Freitas/The Baltimore Banner.
  • A memorial area, complete with a special mural, has taken over the side of the road in front of the blockade to Fort Armistead Park. The construction workers who were killed when the Key Bridge collapsed are honored with hard hats, construction boots and safety vests lovingly hung on several crosses that marked the perimeter of a circle of candles, flowers and other tokens of remembrance. Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner.

HOUSE CANDIDATE DUNN SLAMS AIPAC FOR GIVING TO ELECTION DENIERS: Harry Dunn, the former U.S. Capitol police officer who is now running for Congress in suburban Maryland, is slamming the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s intervention in his race, noting the group’s support for dozens of Republicans who objected to certifying the 2020 election results even after the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Dunn, who endured anti-Black racism while defending the Capitol from rioters on Jan. 6, said the hundreds of thousands of dollars that a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC is spending in his race amounts to a threat to the democratic norms he fought to uphold. Daniel Marans/HuffPost.

6th DISTRICT HOUSE CANDIDATES FLOCK TO HAGERSTOWN FORUM: Nearly a dozen candidates — Republican and Democrat – aiming to be Maryland’s next representative from the 6th District of the U.S. House came to the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown on Saturday. The forum, sponsored by the Washington County branch of the NAACP, gave each candidate a couple minutes to introduce themselves to the dozens assembled. Dwight Weingarten/The Hagerstown Herald Mail.

COMMENTARY: MARYLAND’s VULNERABLE MAIL-IN BALLOT SYSTEM: Imagine my shock when I learned anyone can order my Maryland mail-in ballot by just using my name, address, and date of birth. How can this be? It should be as hard to take my vote away as it should be to get into my bank account or board a plane in my name, right? Not in Maryland. Nicolee Ambrose, Republican National Committeewoman for Maryland/The Baltimore Sun.

MOMS FOR LIBERTY FILED 15 PUBLIC INFO REQUESTS AT BCPS IN 2023: Moms for Liberty, the national conservative activist group, has been seeking information on the public school system, according to records received through the Maryland Public Information Act. Tara Thompson, chair of the Baltimore County chapter, filed 15 public record requests to Baltimore County Public Schools last year on behalf of the group, asking for data on guidance given to LGBTQ+ students, services provided by school health clinics and how health education is taught. Lilly Price/The Baltimore Sun.

ELEMENTARY STUDENT FIGHTING UP 70% IN CARROLL: Discipline referrals for fighting, attacks, and physical contact are up 70% in Carroll County’s public elementary schools in the last two years. Data shared by Carroll school officials in March shows 403 elementary school students have been issued 1,572 major discipline referrals for physical interactions through February of this school year, a significant increase from the 2021-2022 school year. Ethan Reese/The Carroll County Times.

BATES: SOME PARENTS NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE IN CHILD’s CRIMES: As Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates announced charges Wednesday against juveniles involved in a carjacking and robbery spree last fall, he also cited the need to hold parents criminally and financially accountable in cases where parents know of their child’s crimes. Tony Roberts/The Baltimore Sun.