Protestors interrupt Maryland board meeting, demand Hogan speak out on Trump

Activists staged a protest at a Board of Public Works, demanding Gov. Hogan speak out against Trump policies.

Activists staged a protest at the Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis Wednesday to demand that Gov. Larry Hogan speak out against President Donald Trump's policies.

Three women interrupted the board's regular business of approving state contracts to exhort Hogan to express opposition to his fellow Republican's actions since taking office Jan. 20. The women and two others were escorted from the State House by the governor's executive protection detail and the Capitol Police.

Police barred protesters from returning until after the day's legislative session concluded, saying they were not permitted to interrupt a public meeting.

Before the protesters were removed, Hogan asked them to talk after the meeting. Then, he defended his record.

"I feel like I'm speaking out for my constituents every day," said Hogan, who chaired the meeting. "I didn't run for president and they didn't hire me to protest every day."

The governor refused to support Trump, his party's nominee, in the general election and publicly announced that he had voted for his father, former U.S. Rep Lawrence J. Hogan Sr. Since Trump took office, the governor has avoided direct confrontation with the administration.

The first of the protestors to challenge Hogan Wednesday was Samantha Easton, of Easton, representing the group Talbot Rising.

As the board worked through its agenda, Easton rose and spoke about her 9-year-old daughter who was born weighing 2 pounds and who depends on medication provided through the Affordable Care Act.

Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the act, known as Obamacare, but have not spelled out how they would replace it.

"You yourself could be denied insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed," Easton told Hogan as the governor tried to speak over her. "We are asking you to speak out about the current administration's agenda."

Hogan defended his response to the prospect of repeal, which according to Democratic lawmakers could cost Maryland $3 billion a year if not replaced with a similar program.

"I've been providing tremendous leadership on this issue," Hogan said.

Easton shot back: "You have not spoken up on the ACA."

Hogan has written to Republican leaders in Congress urging them to preserve a waiver under the ACA that allows Maryland to operate a health care system under its own rules. He has not publicly addressed the broader issue except to say that Congress should keep the parts of the law that work and get rid of those that do not.

The governor mentioned that he had met with members of the Maryland congressional delegation to discuss health care and other issues. But Easton said that neither he nor Rep. Andy Harris, the only Republican in the delegation, had answered their letters.

After Capitol Police led Easton out, Sophia Marjanovic of Rockville announced herself as a "survivor of domestic violence" who has also had problems with police accountability.

"I am concerned that under the Trump administration, women will be treated badly and you're not going to stand up for us," she said.

Marjanovic, who was there with the advocacy group Progressive Maryland, was led out. But Susan Ungar, of Glenn Dale, then approached the board — which also includes Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot — and tried to deliver a letter about Trump administration immigration policy.

Officers intercepted Ungar, a member of the group Brothers and Sisters for Action, before she could reach the board table. Officers delivered the letter for her.

Larry Stafford, executive director of Progressive Maryland, was among those barred from the State House, though he did not speak at the Board of Public Works meeting.

Stafford vowed that protestors would continue to confront Hogan in public places.

"We have many venues," Stafford said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.

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