ANNAPOLIS (Feb. 19, 2016)—Thursday's theme at the State House was supposed to be "Democratic power grab," but Thursday morning the theme of the day turned into "Democratic anger" about what Gov. Larry Hogan said, and what he has done or failed to do.
Said Hogan of the lawmakers:
"They come into town like it's they're on spring break, breaking furniture, they start throwing beer bottles off balconies, and all kinds of crazy stuff. Luckily, they're all going to go back home in a few weeks, and we can go back to running the state, and making progress as we have been for the past year,"
Hogan told the WBAL radio audience toward the end of a half-hour on the C4 show.
Within the hour, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, typically a not-very-partisan Democratic chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, was up on the floor of the Senate, reading off Hogan's remarks, as shown in a Facebook
video by Bryan Sears of the Daily Record.
"I'm insulted and I think everyone of us should be insulted," Zirkin told the Senate. He demanded an apology from the governor.
House Speaker Michael Busch later agreed that Hogan had insulted all of the legislators.
Racially motivated decisions
At the same time Hogan was on the radio, the members of the legislative black caucus were holding a press conference in Annapolis where they ultimately accused of Hogan of making racially motivated decisions, disrespecting them and their communities, and refusing to meet with them until the end of session.
"There are assaults going on the black community across this state," Del. Curt Andersen, chair of the Baltimore City delegation, as again recorded by Bryan Sears in this Facebook video. "We know what's going on and we're not going to take it anymore. And we're going to retaliate."
This all comes after a series of remarks on Hogan's Facebook page that angered Senate President Mike Miller and other Senate leaders about their votes to override his vetoes, particularly on voting rights for felons. This in turn has led to a series of bills by Senate Democrats seeking to curb Hogan's powers on transportation, spending and schools, which Hogan and Republicans see as "a power grab."
Olive branch to black caucus
Late Thursday afternoon, the governor offered an olive branch to the black caucus. He wrote to the budget committee chairs withdrawing his request for $18 million for design of a new Baltimore City Jail complex, and redirected the money back to other projects at universities, including three historically black universities—Morgan State, Coppin State and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
A comment Hogan made about the Democratic lawmakers on the C4 show might be turned around on the governor himself.
"It's doesn't seem like a smart political strategy, and I'm not sure how any of them expect to be reelected," Hogan said.
Miller had a subdued response to Hogan's comments about the legislators. "Everybody has a bad day," said the Senate president.