July 2, 2013

State Roundup, July 2, 2013

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GOP PROTESTS FEE, TAX HIKES: Republican lawmakers marked Monday’s hikes in fees, gas taxes and tolls in Maryland by protesting what they called a “virtual downpour” of increases that they blamed on Gov. Martin O’Malley, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Dels. Michael Hough, Kathy Afzali and Sen. David Brinkley gathered at a gas station to protest the gas tax hike along with small business owners who say they will be adversely affected, writes Daniel Gross of the Frederick News-Post. Gross also interviews other folks on how they will deal with the hike.

Republican Del. Pat. McDonough kicked off a campaign this weekend urging state lawmakers to repeal the so-called “rain tax,” a law requiring several jurisdictions to adopt stormwater management fees, reports Daniel Leaderman for the Gazette.

Dave Collins of WBAL-TV offers a detailed video report on the all the taxes and fees that went up yesterday and the protest by Republicans and small business owners.

TOLL SCOFFLAWS: Hundreds of thousands of tolls have gone unpaid on Maryland’s Intercounty Connector, but officials hope a new law will help them crack down on toll scofflaws, according to an AP story in the Gazette. Records obtained by WTOP-FM show 862,458 tolls have not been paid since January 2012, costing the state millions of dollars. Documents also show 88,593 drivers with two or more unpaid video tolls.

WHOLE LOTTA LIKES: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that the anti-Gov. O’Malley group Change Maryland recently celebrated a milestone: the number of likes on its Facebook page surpassed those of the governor himself.

PRO BONO WORK HONORED: Gov. O’Malley will join Chief Judge Robert Bell of the Court of Appeals and U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards at a ceremony today honoring nearly 800 lawyers who provided free legal services to Maryland homeowners who were facing foreclosure, Michael Dresser blogs in the Sun.

COUNCILMAN COULD LOSE SEAT: Pete Smith could lose his seat on the Anne Arundel County Council following a Court of Appeals decision Monday that the council improperly ousted his predecessor, Daryl Jones, from his District 1 seat, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

HEALTH-CARE LOBBYING: Michael Dresser and Jean Marbella of the Sun report that hospitals and other health care interests spent more than $3.6 million on lobbying in Maryland during the first half of the year, more than any other industry, according to an analysis by Common Cause Maryland. The group, which advocates for governmental accountability, said the expenditures could be attributed in part to the rollout of new national health care requirements.

NEW HIGH-POWERED LOBBYING FIRM: Del. Justin Ross of Prince George’s County stunned Maryland politicos when he announced his retirement from the General Assembly last September. Now Ross is confirming that he will be forming a new all-star lobbying firm in Annapolis with two other well-connected guns for hire: Senate President Mike Miller’s former chief of staff Tim Perry and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2006 campaign manager Josh White.

Perry worked with the Baltimore City law firm of Gordon-Feinblatt and was last year’s top-earning Annapolis lobbyist, writes the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

Rounding out the Annapolis-based Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson will be Jonas Jacobson, a former deputy secretary at Maryland’s Department of the Environment, writes John Wagner in the Post.

HARRIS-JONES: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland outlines the cozy relationships that No. 3 lobbyist Lisa Harris-Jones has with the folks at Center Maryland and KO Public Relations, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and others in the Democratic Party.

STATE HOUSE SHUFFLE: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland takes a look at the shuffling state Senate and House of Delegates, who’s retiring – or should retire – who’s moving on to other campaigns and who is staying put.

Senior Expo save the Date

BROWN ENDORSED: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown Monday at a West Baltimore bakery on Pennsylvania Avenue, picking a spot of significance to African-American history as she offered support for Brown’s bid to become Maryland’s first black governor, writes Erin Cox in the Sun. A video of the endorsement tops the story.

46th DISTRICT RACE: Brooke Lierman, a civil rights lawyer who lives in Fells Point, has announced her candidacy to run for a House of Delegates seat in the 46th district, which represents South Baltimore, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

6th DISTRICT U.S. HOUSE: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News reports that a Marine combat veteran said his decision to run for Maryland’s 6th District seat in Congress, currently held by John Delaney, was a continuation of responding to a call for service instilled in him when he was young. “We are in desperate need of leadership now. We don’t have time to wait,” said David Vogt of Brunswick.

LEGGETT’S CHALLENGERS: Just weeks after Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced he will seek re-election, his challengers have begun outlining the issues that look to define the 2014 race, reports Kate Alexander for the Gazette. Education and transportation topped former County Executive Doug Duncan’s list while the county’s relationship with state leaders and its employees were key for Councilman Philip Andrews.

UM HOUSEKEEPERS PROTEST: University of Maryland housekeepers rallied for better working conditions and higher wages, and won at least a partial victory, writes Christopher Goins for MarylandReporter.com. They won’t have to eat their lunches in cleaning closets and can instead eat in lounges and kitchens.

AIRPORT TOWER IS OPEN: Federal funding announced Monday ensures that federally contracted air traffic control towers, like the tower at Hagerstown Regional Airport, will remain open through September 2014, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

WHO WILL FOLLOW? As Anne Arundel Schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell prepares to leave for Prince George’s County, local officials are left wondering who may follow, reports Tim Prudente for the Capital-Gazette. At least three members of Maxwell’s executive team followed him seven years ago from Montgomery County to Anne Arundel.

SNOWDEN CAR STOLEN: Civil rights leader and former Annapolis alderman Carl Snowden was a victim of auto theft over the weekend, blogs Ben Weathers in the Capital-Gazette.