Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this week called his promised tax legislation to offset changes in the federal GOP tax bill his “holiday gift to the people of Maryland.”

But that wasn’t the only gift-giving on the governor’s agenda.

At the start of the Board of Public Works meeting on Wednesday, the governor delivered gifts to the other members of the board: Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and Treasurer Nancy Kopp (D).

“Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, happy holidays,” Hogan said, handing over some gift bags and a book.

I learned later that the governor gave his fellow board members a copy of “Maryland: A Portrait,” a Salisbury pewter desk set, and cuff links for the comptroller and a necklace for the treasurer with the governor’s seal.

The book of photographs by Roger Miller also includes a foreword by Hogan.

“I didn’t realize you’re now a published author,” Kopp said.

“I had to write one whole page,” Hogan said.

“Every bit counts,” Kopp assured the governor, who said he spent a long time on the page.

Franchot thanked Hogan for the gift, even though it wasn’t exactly what he expected.

“I was hoping there was going to be a bottle of Maryland rum in there,” Franchot said, staying on message with his “Reform on Tap” effort to change the state’s liquor laws to support small breweries, distilleries and wineries.

Franchot also dwelled on a gift he received from the treasurer, a book called “Fugitives of the Forest: The Heroic Story of Jewish Resistance And Survival During The Second World War.” Franchot said he is deeply inspired by tales of “heroic acts of resistance” during World War II.

The governor thanked Kopp for his gift — also a book, but he did not open it during the meeting.

Gift exchanges are becoming more common as the first order of business at BPW meetings.

Franchot gave both the comptroller and governor a gift Earlier this year — two six-packs of Maryland-made beer.

A significant appointment

Hogan announced on Thursday that he would reappoint the position of health secretary after Maryland’s highest court delayed a hearing over the current secretary’s withheld salary.

Robert Neall, a former state delegate, senator and county executive for Anne Arundel County, will step into the position, beginning Jan. 9, the eve of the start of the 438th General Assembly session.

And he’s expected to be paid.

The current secretary, Dennis Schrader, will stay with the Maryland Department of Health as the department’s chief operating officer.

He has not been paid since July, as the result of a clash between the legislative and executive branches of state government. After Hogan kept Schrader and former Planning Secretary Wendi Peters in their positions without Senate confirmation, the secretaries’ salaries were withheld. Peters began receiving a salary in September after she was moved to another position.

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge ruled earlier this month that the secretaries should be paid, a decision that was appealed by Kopp, who withheld payment based on budget language passed by Democratic lawmakers.

But the governor’s office said Thursday that the Maryland Court of Appeals stayed the lower court’s order and will not hear their case for at least six months, forcing the change in positions.

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