He calls it ‘best legislative session ever in seven years.’
Annapolis, Md (KM) Governor Larry Hogan says he’s happy with the recently concluded 2021 Maryland General Assembly. Meeting with reporters in Annapolis on Monday, Hogan called it the most successful and productive session since he became Governor. “Most successful biggest progress I would say it the RELIEF Act which was our number-one priority during this pandemic,” he said.
In addition to providing assistance to residents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor said the legislation provided Marylanders with the biggest tax cut in history at $1.45-billion. He also said the state’s budget came out ahead. “We also found bipartisan agreement unanimously on our budget which utilized all of the federal funding that came through, really helped put our state in a much better position, putting away money in the rainy day fund., and our fund balance. We’re in much stronger financial shape now then we’ve every been,:” he said.
But he acknowledged the three vetoes of the police reform that came to his desk, and the fact that they were overridden by the House of Delegates and the State Senate. “They sent me the bill early. I could have delayed that until right after the session. But I think that would have been a political game. I just wanted to be direct and up front. We knew they were going to override the veto. But we also thought it was important to stand up for what we believe it,” he said.
Hogan said he liked some of what was in the bills. “I’ve been a huge proponent of body cams for quite some time. There were a number of other worthwhile goals in the bill But a couple of those provisions in those bills were pretty dangerous and I think they’re going put police officers and civilians’ lives at stake,”: the Governor said.
The bills he vetoed and were overridden by legislators would eliminate the officers’ bill of rights, require no-knock warrants to be approved by both a supervisor and the local state’s attorney, and that they be served during the daylight hours. Another measure requires the use of force only if it is “necessary and proportional.”
Despite the success of the 2021 session, Governor Hogan said other work needs to be done. “But we have a billion-dollar tax relief bill for retirees which are fleeing our state because we have some of the highest retirement taxes in the country and they haven’t brought that up,” he says.
And another issue is crime. “There was a lot of focus on the police bills. Tough crime bill passed the Senate, as it did last year; and got held up in the House. We really have to do something about the violent that has taken over our streets,” Governor Hogan said.
The Governor and the President of the Senate, Bill Ferguson, and the Speaker of the House, Adrienne Jones, took part in a bill signing ceremony on Tuesday. They affixed their signatures to 66 bills, several of them dealing with expanding broadband in Maryland.
“We’re going to treat broadband like a utility, like electricity, like roads,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson. “To compete in the 21st century, you need access to information.”
One of the bills would establish the Office of Statewide Broadband in the Department of Housing and Community Development. It also sets up the Digital Inclusion Fund and the Digital Connectivity Fund within the Department to provide grants to local governments and non-profits to increase access to high speed internet and assist in the development of affordable broadband internet infrastructure. In the budget, there’s $300-million in federal funding to expand the state’s broadband network.
By Kevin McManus