May 22, 2013

State Roundup, May 22, 2013

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NEW TRANSPORTATION SECTY? Gov. Martin O’Malley is in renewed discussions with former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith about becoming state transportation secretary, writes John Wagner of the Post. The Cabinet-level post has been open for almost a year, following the resignation last summer of Beverley Swaim-Staley.

NEW DNR CHIEF: Gov. O’Malley swore in a new head of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday. Joseph Gill replaces John Griffin, who will be working as O’Malley’s chief of staff. Gill has been deputy secretary at the agency, blogs Michael Dresser of the Sun.

STUDENT-ATHLETE RULES: Tim Tooten of WBAL-TV reports that the state Board of Education has issued new guidelines for student athletes suffering concussions.

HORSE BREEDER INCENTIVE: The Maryland Racing Commission passed a revised incentive program Tuesday meant to persuade thoroughbred breeders to operate in the state and owners of those horses to run on its tracks, but might have shattered the harmony achieved among the sports’ stakeholders in recent months, reports Chris Korman for the Sun.

CASINO ADDS POKER ROOM: Maryland Live Casino plans to hire more than 200 poker dealers and managers for a new 14,800-square-foot poker room set to open in late summer, reports Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal. The addition will add 50 poker tables to the state’s largest casino next to the Arundel Mills mall.

FUEL TAX HELPS MONTGOMERY: The increase in Maryland’s fuel tax, signed into law by Gov. O’Malley last week, is projected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for Montgomery County road and transit projects, writes Daniel Leaderman and Sylvia Carignan for the Gazette.

STORMWATER FEE BREAK: Anne Arundel County property owners are getting more breaks on their annual stormwater bills, though the county will have about $3.2 million less to spend on pollution cleanup than expected, writes Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

CITY TO HIKE WATER RATE: Baltimore City officials are proposing a 42% increase in water and sewer rates over the next two years, with the biggest jump starting in six weeks, writes Mark Reutter of the Baltimore Brew.

COUNTY WON’T: Baltimore County residents served by Baltimore City’s water system won’t see a rate increase this year, despite a city proposal to impose a 15% increase, reports Allison Knezevich for the Sun. Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works proposed the rate increase this week.

OPEN MEETINGS COMPLAINT: Fox45 has filed a formal legal complaint after getting kicked out of a Baltimore City government meeting focused on a controversial tax break for a big developer.

CANDY MAKERS LOBBY: Some of Baltimore’s best-known candy makers are pressing Congress to overturn a decades-old sugar policy they say is leaving a bad taste in their mouth, reports John Fritze for the Sun. Goetze’s Candy Co., Wockenfuss Candies and others want lawmakers to rethink long-standing restrictions on foreign sugar imports that they argue are inflating the cost of making caramels, toffees and chocolates.

RASCOVAR’S BACK & MORE: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com blogs about the fact that columnist Barry Rascovar has begun blogging on his own, what is still available to readers as the Gazette downsizes and what readers read at MarylandReporter.

O’MALLEY’S RUN: Little-known outside his home state, Gov. O’Malley has methodically checked the necessary boxes toward earning the reputation of good Democratic soldier as he considers whether to run for president in 2016 a White House bid that would face long odds, according to an AP story in the Easton Star-Democrat.

Gov. O’Malley hosted a fundraiser Tuesday night for Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, an event certain to add to the buzz about O’Malley’s presidential ambitions, given that Shaheen hails from New Hampshire. Sen. Barbara Mikulski co-hosted the funder, held at a residence in Owings Mills, writes John Wagner of the Post.

HANDICAPPING GOV’S RACE: In Barry Rascovar’s new website of his political commentary, he speculates about the impending race for governor – at least on the Democratic side. There’s one potential candidate who has the name recognition that beats all contenders, he says, and that person is …

David Moon of Maryland Juice also addresses the governor’s race, posting a video of his discussion with Bruce DePuyt on News Channel 8 and pulling together columns from other news outlets.

LT. GOV. TO SPEAK: Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will give remarks at the Homeward Bound Heroes concert event this evening, according to an AP story at WMAR-TV.

CIVICS EDUCATION: The Maryland Judiciary is promoting civics education by offering classes to high school students in how the court system works, their rights and responsibilities and how government is supposed to function, writes Christopher Goins in MarylandReporter.com.

INDEMNITY MORTGAGES: Among the hundreds of bills signed Thursday that received little attention was one exempting older indemnity mortgages from the new recordation taxes and raising the ceiling on these special financing mechanism, according to this posting from NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association.