December 12, 2012

State Roundup, December 12, 2012

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FRANCHOT TO SEEK RE-ELECTION: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, considered one of the leading prospective Democratic candidates for governor in 2014, said yesterday that he will instead seek a third term in his current post, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Franchot, a Democrat who has often been a voice of dissent on the state’s three-member Board of Public Works in his six years as the state’s tax collector, made the announcement in a letter to supporters, according to an AP story in the Capital-Gazette.

John Wagner of the Post reports that Franchot said, “I have developed an abiding love for a Comptroller’s Office that has been recognized as the best in the nation, and is admired throughout the State of Maryland for its high standards of efficiency and professionalism.”

Franchot was seen as one of the front-runners in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Del. Heather Mizeur, C. Benjamin Ford reports in the Gazette.

NOW WHAT? David Moon at Maryland Juice blogs that a source provided a mini-analysis about the possible ramifications of what will happen next that Franchot is running for re-election and state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, who was going to run for comptroller, now will not.

OFFSHORE WIND: Senate President Mike Miller said yesterday he will consider changes to the Senate Finance Committee, if necessary, to advance an offshore wind measure to the full Senate for debate in the upcoming legislative session, reports the AP’s Brian Witte in the Salisbury Daily Times.

O’MALLEY ADDRESSES SPEED CAMERAS: Gov. Martin O’Malley said yesterday that state law bars speed camera contractors from being paid based on the number of citations issued or paid — a so-called bounty system approach used by Baltimore City, Baltimore County and elsewhere in Maryland, writes Luke Broadwater and Scott Calvert for the Sun.

DISABILITIES SPENDING: Health Secretary Joshua Sharfstein told a town hall meeting that the Developmental Disabilities Administration is now “in the red” after under-spending its budget for years, but it still doesn’t have a state-of-the-art financial system to keep track of funds.

CARDIN KEEPS MIND OPEN: Now that Maryland voters have handed him six more years in office, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin has the freedom to do something many of his colleagues don’t amid the ongoing “fiscal cliff” negotiations, writes Ben Pershing in the Post. Keep an open mind.

TAXPAYER MIGRATION: Jim Pettit of Change Maryland writes for the National Review that taxpayer migration is a key figure that the Census Bureau and the IRS should keep track of, but why are they discontinuing using it?

REPAY SECURITY COST: The Sun’s Annie Linskey reports that Maryland’s Republican Party wants Gov. Martin O’Malley to reimburse taxpayers for the $100,000 spent last year by the state police protecting him on out-of-state trips.

The demand from the minority party, writes John Wagner in the Post, came in response to media reports this month that the Maryland State Police spent nearly $100,000 on out-of-state travel to provide executive protection services for O’Malley during the first nine months of the year.

Daniel Leaderman of the Gazette reports that the GOP leaders wrote that while the amount may be small compared to the $638 million structural deficit the state is facing, asking taxpayers to cover the costs is “inappropriate, particularly in these austere fiscal times.”

ASK ANDY: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris launched his first “Ask Andy” video segment from his government website Sunday, which focused on the looming “fiscal cliff,” writes Daniel Menefee of the Chesapeake Spy.

BAY HELP: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris toured a Chestertown area farm whose owner has created a series of basins along a natural drainage ditch that prevents silt and nutrients from entering the Chesapeake Bay, which could be touted as an easy model for other farmers to follow, writes Peter Heck in the Easton Star-Democrat.

WA CO AGENDA: The Washington County delegation to the General Assembly packed several days’ worth of public meetings into one, starting with a morning pre-legislative forum with the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, reports Andrew Schotz for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

ENVIRONMENTAL REGS: Michael Sawyers of the Cumberland Times-News reports that Allegany area elected officials had the Maryland attorney general’s ear yesterday morning, asking for a break from stringent environmental regulations that they say are blocking economic growth in far Western Maryland.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OPPOSED: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times reports that dozens of men and women of many colors and from many backgrounds crowded into the meeting room in the Carroll County Office Building to debate a proposed ordinance to make English the county’s official language. About 50 people spoke during the two-and-a-half hour public hearing, with the majority opposing the proposal.

Cheryl Conner of WMAR-TV has a video report.

SUGAR DRINK BAN: Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has moved to ban the sale of high-sugar drinks such as soda in parks, libraries and other county properties and at county-sponsored events — hoping yet again to make the county a progressive model, Luke Lavoie and Kevin Rector report in the Sun.

RACE TO TOP: After making it to the last round of the inaugural federal Race to the Top district competition, the Baltimore City and Baltimore County school systems fell short of securing grants that would have strengthened individualized learning and helped close the achievement gap, writes Erica Green in the Sun.

TRIB BREAKUP: Looks like Sam Zell, owner of the Tribune Co., including the Baltimore Sun, is looking to sell some of his newspapers, according to the Bloomberg News.