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Maryland General Assembly: The week ahead in Annapolis

Gov. Larry Hogan will deliver his second State of the State speech to the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday, the top highlight of the week ahead in Annapolis.

In his first State of the State last year, Hogan not only promoted his policy initiatives -- such as tax relief and repealing stormwater fees -- but the Republican also struck a partisan tone that rankled Democrats.

While past governors have often used the speech to proclaim that the state of the state is "strong," Hogan said last year: "But while our assets are many, and our people are strong and hopeful, their state is simply not as strong as it could be -- or as it should be."

With a year of governing and strengthening his political game under his belt, it will be worth watching to see what type of strategy Hogan takes during the State of the State, which he'll deliver at noon Wednesday in the House of Delegates chamber.

Before all eyes turn to the governor's big speech, Democratic leaders in the legislature will unveil their legislative priorities Monday.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and other Democratic leaders will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon to announce their agenda. They've said the initiatives will be "focused on programs for middle-class families."

The announcement of Democratic priorities comes after Hogan spent much of last week rolling out his policy proposals, including a tougher gang law to prosecute heroin dealers, a new process for redistricting, tax credits for people who donate to private schools, scholarships for students who graduate high school early and a plan to make it cheaper for some people with student loans to buy homes.

On Friday, the state Senate is scheduled to hold a vote on whether to overturn a Hogan veto of a law that allows people convicted of felonies to vote as soon as they are out of prison -- instead of having to wait until they complete parole or probation. The House already overturned the veto and the Senate needs 29 votes for an override.

The veto override vote was delayed in the Senate so that a vacant seat can be filled, an indication that the vote will be close. Democrats nominated Del. Craig J. Zucker to fill the vacancy, but Hogan has not yet appointed Zucker to the position. By law, Hogan has until the end of the week to make the appointment and he's not allowed to make another choice.

Throughout the week, activists and lobbyists will try and draw attention to several bills. On Tuesday, gun-rights activists will descend on Annapolis to hold a pro-Second Amendment rally and to meet with lawmakers.

Environmentalists will hold their annual summit on Wednesday afternoon, where they'll discuss top environmental issues facing the General Assembly.

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