Maryland Governor Focuses on Economic Issues in State of the Sta - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland Governor Focuses on Economic Issues in State of the State

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave his third state of the state speech Wednesday in Annapolis. (Photo: Larry Hogan Facebook page) Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan gave his third state of the state speech Wednesday in Annapolis. (Photo: Larry Hogan Facebook page)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- Calling for bipartisanship, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan highlighted economic concerns Wednesday in his third State of the State speech by promoting efforts to attract jobs and approve modest tax relief.
    
The Republican governor urged members of the Democrat-controlled legislature to work with him to help parts of the state that have yet to improve economically as much as other parts since the Great Recession. He mentioned western Maryland, the city of Baltimore and the Lower Eastern Shore as areas where unemployment is still higher than the rest of the state.
    
"From day one, our administration has been focused on making Maryland more competitive, growing our private sector, putting more Marylanders to work, and restoring our state economy," Hogan told the General Assembly.
    
Some Democrats commended the governor for calling for bipartisanship to work on behalf of Maryland residents. But others criticized him for not addressing health care concerns posed by changes under discussion in the nation's capital by President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress.
    
Sen. James Rosapepe, D-Prince George's, said Hogan "ignored the elephant in the room."
    
"Based on the speech, the governor seems unwilling to stand up to Mr. Trump, and so that will fall to the Democrats and the Democrats in Maryland are prepared to protect Marylanders."
    
Republicans, however, agreed the governor should focus on Maryland.
    
"I think the governor is right not to drag partisan politics into this environment, and I encourage members of the Democratic Party to resist it as well," said Del. Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican who is the House minority leader.
    
Sen. Stephen Hershey, the minority whip in the Senate who represents the Upper Eastern Shore, said it's premature to speculate on what Washington will do, anyway.
    
"A lot of talk and concerns about what's going on in Washington right now. Whatever happens there is going to happen," Hershey said. "I think what he's saying right now: we'll focus on Maryland."
    
Hogan, who did not support Trump's candidacy and didn't vote for him in November, used the 25-minute speech to touch on proposals in a legislative package that is more ambitious than his in his first two legislative sessions.
    
In addition to tax relief for retired military, police, fire and first responders that he has proposed before, the governor is focusing again on battling opioid addiction, which continues to ravage the state. Democrats also are proposing legislation.
    
He's also urging lawmakers to compromise with him on legislation for paid sick leave: to consider needs of employees while not hurting small businesses.
    
Hogan also wants to create an optional defined contribution retirement savings plan for state employees, and he's calling for government ethics and transparency reforms. He's also bringing back his call for legislative redistricting reform to create an independent panel to draw the state's congressional and state legislative districts, which the legislature has not acted on previously.
    
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert, gave the governor credit for avoiding partisan rancor, and he conceded that the Republican governor is popular in heavily Democratic Maryland. Still, Miller noted that some of the governor's highpoints in education funding that he mentioned were mandated by Democrats in the legislature.
    
"He knows what polls well, and that's what he emphasizes," Miller said. "And, again, it was a masterful speech and I, as an elected official and as a political person, I think he did very, very well," Miller said.

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