May 13, 2013

State Roundup, May 13, 2013

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ACTION ON CORRECTIONS CONTROVERSY: Maryland corrections Secretary Gary Maynard is scheduled to appear June 19 before a joint legislative panel looking into problems at a Baltimore jail and in the state’s prison system more broadly, reports John Wagner for the Post.

The AP is reporting in the Daily Record that a lawmaker who toured the Baltimore City Detention Center with Republican legislators on Friday said that the Civil War era jail needs to be demolished and replaced.

John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that Del. Michael Smigiel says officers from other facilities will be coming to the center to search correctional officers as they come to work. You can view Rydell’s video report here.

BROWN LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown launched his campaign for the state’s top elective office on Friday, telling several hundred supporters gathered in Prince George’s County that after more than six years as the state’s No. 2, he knows best how to continue building a better future for the Old Line State, writes Aaron Davis of the Post.

MarylandReporter.com posts a video of Lt. Gov. Brown announcing his run for governor.

Brown started off his morning and his Saturday campaign kickoff tour with some coffee and flapjacks in Frederick, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

Gov. Martin O’Malley on Saturday touted Lt. Gov. Brown as his preferred successor, calling the newly announced gubernatorial candidate an “outstandingly effective” leader, writes John Wagner of the Post.

GANSLER RESPONDS: The campaign team of Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who may announce his candidacy for governor in the fall, responded to the start of Brown, blogs Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record. “Marylanders expect their governors to be leaders who work for them and have a record of real accomplishments to prove it,” said Gansler’s campaign strategist. “Doug has led as attorney general and will continue to work on behalf of families across Maryland to get things done.”

DOING BUSINESS IN MD: Responding to a recent survey that ranks Maryland 41 for doing business, business groups say Maryland isn’t necessarily unfriendly to business, but rather has a perception problem, reports Andy Brownfield for the Washington Examiner. Maryland Chamber of Commerce spokesman William Burns said the reintroduction of seemingly unfriendly legislation can give the state a bad rap.

Attorney General Doug Gansler, sounding for all the world like a gubernatorial candidate, voiced deep concern about what he called the state’s failure to keep and attract large companies, and said he opposes the coming gas-tax increase proposed by Gov. O’Malley, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record.

DWYER ON DRUNK BOATING: One day before his trial in Annapolis, Del. Don Dwyer has scheduled a news conference for today to talk about drunken and negligent boating charges against him, reports Zoe Read of the Capital-Gazette.

Linda So of WMAR-TV reports that Dwyer has not specifically said what he will talk about other than he wants to address the charges against him.

CASINOS HELP RACING: With the 138th Preakness Stakes set to run on Saturday, Maryland casino revenue is keeping the state’s once-flagging horse racing industry afloat the other 364 days of the year, reports Matt Connolly for the Washington Examiner.

THREE BID FOR PG CASINO: Three companies have put in bids to build a Prince George’s County casino, leading to a high-stakes competition to operate what could be one of the most lucrative gambling venues on the East Coast, reports John Wagner of the Post.

CONOWINGO PROBLEMS: A 14-mile reservoir behind the Conowingo hydroelectric generating dam in northern Maryland stops 2 million pounds of sediment every year from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. But 1 million pounds get through, burying underwater grasses that support sea life and adding to the bay’s myriad pollution problems, writes CNS’s Jessica Wilde for MarylandReporter.com.

UMD PAY: The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that, of Maryland’s three public university leaders, all ranked in the low 80s in terms of highest paid. William Kirwan, chancellor of the University of Maryland, ranked 80th with compensation of $490,000. Tricia Bishop of the Sun writes that four presidents at public research universities in the U.S. made a collective $9.2 million in fiscal year 2012.

FIREARMS COLLECTED: Montgomery County police collected 111 firearms Saturday as part of a statewide gun turn-in program, Doug Tallman reports in the Gazette. “We don’t expect to get a lot of crime guns,” police Sgt. Ken Berger said. “But they could be future crime guns if they weren’t turned in.”

STABLE HOSPITAL COSTS: Prices charged by hospitals nationwide vary widely, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, writes Rachael Pacelli for the Capital-Gazette. Such prices are more uniform in Maryland, the only state in which a commission sets hospital rates. Also, charges for common services in the state are half the national average.

MVA’S ONLINE VISION SERVICE: The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration now offers an online vision certification service that allows authorized eye care providers to submit screening results directly to the MVA, writes Kelsi Loos for the Frederick News-Post. The change will allow drivers to renew their licenses online or at an MVA self-service kiosk.

SMITH ISLAND BUYOUT: Superstorm Sandy barely laid a glove on Smith Island last fall, to hear residents tell it. Hundreds of homes in Crisfield and the rest of Somerset County were damaged but only a couple islanders got any water in their homes from the surging Chesapeake Bay. Yet with the island slowly shrinking and sinking into the bay, the state is considering using $2 million of the federal storm recovery aid it’s received so far to buy out islanders who want to sell their homes and move to the mainland, reports Tim Wheeler in the Sun.

DEM PARTY PROTEST: About 200 union members protested outside a Montgomery County Democratic Party fundraiser Saturday, asserting the party had strayed from progressive positions, reports Doug Tallman for the Gazette. The action skimmed off about 25 percent of its normal attendance, party leaders said.

LEOPOLD, GO AWAY: In a blunt commentary, Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland tells former Arundel County Exec John Leopold, who was convicted and jailed for offenses against his office, he is no longer welcomed in Republican Party politics.

OBAMA VISIT: President Barack Obama will visit Baltimore on Friday, the second in a series of outings aimed at selling his stalled jobs agenda, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

ARUNDEL STORMWATER FEES: The debate over Anne Arundel County’s new stormwater fees — criticized by many as the “rain tax” — will continue through this month, and possibly beyond, as the County Council weighs several options for revising the controversial levy, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun.

TOLLIVER GOOD-BYE: Dozens gathered at the Anne Arundel County Police Department’s Millersville headquarters Friday morning to bid farewell to outgoing police chief Larry Tolliver, writes Ben Weathers for the Capital-Gazette.

DEL. KACH RUNNING FOR COUNCIL? An education advocate and a longtime state lawmaker say they are eying Baltimore County Councilman Todd Huff’s seat, reports Alison Knezevich for the Sun. Democrat Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, an art historian and local education advocate, said she has decided to run for the four-year term in 2014, and Republican Del. Wade Kach said he’s “seriously considering it.”