June 28, 2013

State Roundup, June 28, 2013

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JAIL SCANDAL: Maryland corrections officials faced questions from state lawmakers Thursday over whether they are acting swiftly enough to investigate potential corruption among employees, writes Ian Duncan in the Sun.

Stefanie Dazio of the Post is reporting that Maryland corrections officials are working toward installing cellphone-call-blocking technology at the Baltimore City Detention Center following a scandal in which a violent prison gang reigned over the state-run jail.

GAS TAX HIKE: The first in a series of increases in Maryland’s gas tax will take place Monday as scheduled — but by not quite as much as had been advertised, John Wagner reports in the Post. Motorists, who now pay a state gas tax of 23.5 cents per gallon, will see that rise to 27 cents per gallon at the pump on Monday, according to the Comptroller’s Office.

The tax hike is part of a plan to raise hundreds of millions of new dollars each year for transportation projects, Daniel Leaderman reports in the Gazette.

Avtar Ghuman, owner of Navy Gas & Grocery in Elkton since 2000, said the tax hike is only the latest in a long line that has damaged his business. Ghuman said his Pulaski Highway business has been reduced by one-third due in part to the recent tobacco tax raise, reports Joe Antoshak for the Cecil Whig.

HEALTH-CARE LOBBY: The health-care industry emerged as the biggest spender on lobbying services in Maryland during a six-month stretch that included this year’s legislative session, a dynamic driven in part by the state’s effort to implement the federal health-care law, reports the Post’s John Wagner.

PRINCE GEORGE’S CASINO: State regulators still expect to award a casino license to one of three applicants to operate a casino in Prince George’s County, and the schedule for that process is starting to materialize, blogs Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

CARROLL REJECTS STORMWATER TAX: Carroll County residents and businesses will not be required to pay a stormwater runoff fee after the Board of County Commissioners Thursday voted unanimously to adopt a resolution creating a Watershed Protection and Restoration Fund to be funded by grants and county dollars, writes Blair Ames in the Sun.

The county has budgeted $20 million to complete stormwater projects over the next six years, reports Christian Alexandersen for the Carroll County Times.

GANSLER CREATING POLICY: Attorney General Doug Gansler began a series of statewide meetings which he said will shape the policies forming his future campaign for governor, reports Erin Cox for the Sun. Gansler, a Democrat, plans to formally announce his bid in September, but this week announced he would conduct a series of small, informal meetings he’s called “Building Our Best Maryland.”

INTERVIEW WITH CARDIN: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM speaks with expected candidate for Maryland Attorney General, state Del. Jon Cardin, who represents District 11 in Baltimore County.

DISTRICT 12 RACE: On Monday, June 24, Brian Bailey announced his candidacy for one of three open seats to serve in the House of Delegates in the new District 12, which includes parts of Catonsville, Arbutus and Howard County, reports Julie Baughman in the Sun. Longtime Howard County teacher Eric Ebersole, a Catonsville resident, has also filed for the seat.

GLASSMAN FOR HARFORD EXEC: Here’s a 15-minute video of state Sen. Barry Glassman’s announcement of his race for Harford County executive.

ARUNDEL LOBBYIST RETIRES: Anne Arundel County’s lobbyist since 2006 will retire today, along with several other executive staffers. County councilmen lauded Alan Friedman at last week’s council meeting, the final one for the former public defender and onetime aide to former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, according to Allison Bourg of the Capital-Gazette.

ARUNDEL SUPER LEAVES FOR PG: The Anne Arundel County Board of Education will hold a closed session Saturday as it begins the process of replacing superintendent Kevin Maxwell, who resigned Thursday to serve as CEO of the 124,000-student school system in Prince George’s County, reports Tim Prudente for the Capital-Gazette.

The editorial board for the Capital-Gazette writes that the 61-year-old Maxwell will be facing huge challenges in Prince George’s. But those schools need the educational and administrative philosophy Maxwell has brought to Anne Arundel, which emphasizes community involvement and higher standards, including a stress on college preparation and magnet programs.

Joe Burris of the Sun interviews those who worked with Maxwell for their reaction to his quick departure.

Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland has his own view of Maxwell’s tenure in Anne Arundel and it isn’t flattering.

INCINERATOR PULL-OUT FUND: Christian Alexandersen of the Carroll County Times writes that the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted 3-1-1 in favor of setting aside $3 million to pay a penalty for pulling out of a waste-to-energy incinerator project if Frederick County does not find a partner.

MEETING ON THE RADIO?: In a story we missed last week, Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News-Post writes about an Open Meetings complaint filed when three Frederick County commissioners appeared on a radio talk show together.

MORE SCHOOL AID: Predicting the status quo to fail under enrollment pressure, Doug Duncan, seeking another term as Montgomery County executive, called for a “very large infusion of funds,” and a multiyear commitment from state, county and education leaders to build new schools, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.

ELECTION SEASON: Gazette columnist Blair Lee details a series of odd actions by Ken Ulman, Steve Schuh, Aisha Braveboy and Jon Cardin that were apparently triggered by their coming runs for higher office.

QUALITY OF LIFE RANKING: Maryland ranks 12th for overall quality of life out of the 50 states, according to a report released this week, Meg Tully reports in MarylandReporter.com. The study by Ballotpedia examined 19 different indices to determine quality of life from 1992 to 2012. Neighboring states Virginia and Delaware both made the Top 10 rankings for overall quality of life, with Virginia at 7 and Delaware at 10.