Where do you want to fly?

Unity has its limits

The messages of bipartisanship and cooperation that punctuated the early weeks of the Maryland General Assembly’s legislative session this year were a little more difficult to spot last week.

As a bill to repeal his executive order to start school after Labor Day made its way to the Senate floor, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called a news conference to “set the record straight” on the later start, reminding legislators that they voted to explore an after-Labor Day start during former Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.

Comptroller Peter Franchot led a weeklong offensive against a bill to take regulatory authority over alcohol, motor fuel and tobacco away from his office. But unlike the usual fights, this one wasn’t between Republicans and Democrats. Franchot, bill sponsor state Sen. Ben Kramer and the legislative leadership all are Democrats.

And a controversial bill to further raise the minimum wage in Maryland was the focus of a hearing in the House Economic Matters Committee that lasted nearly eight hours Friday and featured more than 170 witnesses.

With two-thirds of the session left, the gloves, perhaps, finally are off.

I’m not goin’ anywhere

During last week’s Maryland Board of Public Works meeting, Franchot noted that his father, who will turn 97 next month, was present when Franchot took the oath for his fourth term as Maryland’s comptroller.

Those longevity genes, he hinted, have implications for Franchot’s future.

“I just wanted to remind people that I’m not term-limited,” Franchot said, “and he’s going to be 97 next month.”

And about that post-Labor Day start …

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Chairman Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, noted that in 2021, the late Labor Day holiday means Washington County Public Schools only can schedule one snow day.

WCPS Superintendent Boyd Michael made the statement during an earlier hearing on the bill, and also told Pinsky’s committee that the later the school year goes in June, the more attendance drops.

Pinsky also noted that the state’s prescribed 180-day school year was set in 1969.

Gesturing toward Senate President Mike Miller, the longest-serving presiding officer in Maryland history, he noted that the 180-day requirement “predates my time, but maybe not the Senate president’s.”

— Compiled by Tamela Baker