June 26, 2013

State Roundup, June 26, 2013

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RISING SEAS DRAW CONCERN: Saying climate change is already under way, a panel of scientists is urging Maryland officials to plan to accommodate rising seas of up to 2 feet along the state’s shoreline in the next 40 years — and perhaps nearly 6 feet by the end of the century, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

CONOWINGO RELICENSING: A group of Maryland counties, challenging the science and efficacy of the 2010 EPA cleanup mandate for the Chesapeake Bay, has filed a Motion to Intervene with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in relicensing the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam, reports Daniel Menefee for the Chestertown Spy. The group has advocated dredging the dam as the most expedient and cost effective way to improve water quality in the Bay.

SLOTS CUT AT CASINO: A Maryland panel gave tentative approval Tuesday to a proposal by Caesars Entertainment to decrease the number of slot machines at its planned Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore City to make room for tables games and poker tables, the Post’s John Wagner is reporting.

GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS: Speeding up background checks for law-abiding citizens and easing the burden on gun dealers are the goals of Del. Kevin Kelly, who is asking the Maryland State Police to look at options to quicken the process and cut a backlog that’s holding up the transfer of many types of regulated guns to their new owners, reports Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times-News.

HEALTH ENTERPRISE ZONE: Information about the Competent Care Connections Coalition Health Enterprise Zone created for parts of Dorchester and Caroline counties was presented in Cambridge Monday during a press conference featuring Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and state and local health organization representatives. The press conference included presentation of a $755,000 ceremonial check, representing the state’s contribution to this program, with a total of $3 million expected for the four years of the pilot program creating zone, reports Gail Dean for the Easton Star-Democrat.

GANSLER CAMPAIGN: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, whose campaign for governor has been far less visible than that of his chief rival, announced plans Monday for a series of policy discussions and the appointment of some more staff, reports John Wagner in the Post.

70 ENDORSEMENTS FOR BROWN: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s campaign for governor rolled out about 70 endorsements from municipal elected officials around the state Tuesday — among them seven members of the Baltimore City Council, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

Of the 70 who signed on to officially endorse the Brown-Ulman ticket, 46 came from municipalities in Prince George’s, which Brown represented in the House of Delegates from 1999 to 2007, writes Alexander Pyles in the Daily Record.

The press conference announcing the endorsements, scheduled to coincide with an annual conference of the Maryland Municipal League, was intended to build upon the early momentum Brown has claimed in the race to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley next year, writes the Post’s John Wagner.

CANDIDATE CRAIG ON EDUCATION: In a recent interview focused on education, gubernatorial candidate and Harford County Executive David Craig said that Maryland’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards wasn’t simply a mistake, it was a “great mistake,” writes Cindy Mumby in the Dagger. Ditto for statewide tests and education funding required under the state’s maintenance of effort law (“ridiculous,” both). And don’t get the former educator started on the current head of the local teachers’ union.

GOP FIELD: Barry Rascovar at Political Maryland.com assesses the odds of the Republican field for governor.

FRANCHOT CAMPAIGN: Inside the back banquet room of Adams Ribs, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot reviewed the state’s economy and fiscal future over plates of fried chicken and corn on the cob. The meeting with Salisbury and Fruitland business leaders signaled the slightly less glamorous campaign for comptroller that Franchot reentered a few months ago after announcing he would not seek the governor’s office, writes Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

FRICK ON ATTY GEN RUN: Del. Bill Frick of Montgomery County is interviewed by Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM to talk about his run for the State Attorney General’s seat.

RACE IN THE RACE: Race is becoming a high-profile issue in the race for Sen. Rob Garagiola’s Montgomery County seat, writes David Moon of Maryland Juice. He highlights several items that address the issue.

A BETTER RAIL SYSTEM: In an op-ed for the Sun, Kathy Epstein and Maris St. Cyr of the Right Rail Coalition write that the 2002 Baltimore Region Rail System Plan envisioned a fully connected transit system. But budgetary constraints and poor planning have whittled it down to a proposed east-west light rail line whose projected cost has exploded to $2.6 billion and keeps rising. That’s a staggering sum that Maryland taxpayers cannot afford. But there are solutions.

MONTGOMERY BUDGET GAP: Fiscal year 2014 doesn’t start until next week, but Montgomery officials gave the County Council an early read Tuesday on the outlook for FY 2015. While such forecasts are always subject to change, the county is currently looking at about a $300 million gap between projected revenues and expenditures, reports Bill Turque in the Post.

SELLING NURSING HOME: Frederick County commissioners voted Tuesday night to sell the government-owned nursing home along with the assisted living center that has served needy local residents for about 140 years. The decision followed about five hours of public comment from local residents, elder care experts and those who live at Citizens and Montevue, the vast majority of whom objected to the sale, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post.

Rodgers also reports that officials are saying that a crowd member outside Tuesday’s public hearing was asked to leave the building after yelling at Commissioners President Blaine Young and calling him a Nazi.

CEO VIEWS: Tax and regulatory policies, infrastructure and workforce development are key issues around which Maryland government should frame strategic public policies to strengthen the state’s competitiveness for business growth and job creation, according to the participants in the Greater Baltimore Committee’s inaugural Chesapeake Conference of CEOs last week, Donald Fry writes in Center Maryland.

LOBBYING DOLLARS: Eight out of the 10 highest paid lobbyists in 2012 are on track to retain their titles in 2013, while business spending on lobbyists shifted from gambling to health care, according to a post-session report released by the State Ethics Commission. For the six month reporting period from Nov. 1, 2012 to April 30, 2013, lobbyists have reported earning $23 million, Glynis Kazanjian reports in MarylandReporter.com.