July 23, 2013

State Roundup, July 23, 2013

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SUPPORT FOR AEROSPACE INDUSTRY: Gov. Martin O’Malley called on the federal government to sustain funding for aerospace research, calling the state’s growing industry a critical part of the Maryland’s “innovation economy.” During a tour of ATK Space Systems Division in Beltsville, the governor said it was the state’s responsibility to make sure such companies have “a pipeline of skilled employees” but that the future of space technology depends on the federal government’s commitment to the industry, Erin Cox is reporting in the Sun.

FRANCHOT PUSHES BIZ TAX CREDITS: Comptroller Peter Franchot will nudge thousands of Howard County small businesses to take advantage of additional tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act, joining a number of health care advocates and politicians in Columbia on Monday to announce his outreach to more than 5,000 small businesses in Howard County, reports Chris Goins for MarylandReporter.com.

MVA ELECTRONIC LICENSING: Maryland drivers now can handle their licensing and registration requirements from the sanctity of their own homes with the Motor Vehicle Administration now allowing drivers to handle the forms electronically, Jack Cobourn reports in the Cecil Whig.

PENSION GROWTH: The Maryland state employees’ pension system reported last week that it grew to more than $40 billion during the 12 months that ended June 30 as it posted a 10.6% return on its investments, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun. That performance exceeds both the state’s assumption that it would earn 7.75% and the 8.6% average performance for the types of assets that the fund owns.

BPW TAKES UP HOUSING PLAN: The Sun’s Michael Dresser is reporting that six years after Gov. Martin O’Malley tried to kill a Kent Island housing development in an environmentally sensitive area near the Chesapeake Bay, the state Board of Public Works will be asked to reverse course Wednesday and approve permits that would allow the project. The revival of the Four Seasons plan comes after state courts slapped down O’Malley and Comptroller Peter Franchot for their votes in 2007 to derail the project over concerns that it would contribute to bay pollution.

COWLEY HONOR SOUGHT: On Monday, U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and two other members of Maryland’s congressional delegation announced legislation to honor Dr. R Adams Cowley posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian award Congress can bestow, reports John Fritze for the Sun. Cowley founded the nation’s first trauma center at the University of Maryland in 1958 with a grant from the Army. He conceived of the “golden hour,” the idea that the care a patient receives in the first 60 minutes after a trauma is critical to survival.

GANSLER TOUTS TRANSPARENCY: Attorney General Doug Gansler is planning to talk about proposals to improve transparency and accountability in state government, and has scheduled a forum for Wednesday in Annapolis, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

RURAL COALITION: A coalition of rural Maryland counties is beginning preparations for the 2014 legislative session, said Allegany County Commissioner and Maryland Rural Counties Coalition chairman Michael McKay. Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times-News writes that while some things haven’t been decided yet, McKay believes the coalition will hire a lobbyist, as it has for the past two legislative sessions. A full update for his fellow commissioners and county staff is planned for an Aug. 1 commission work session.

O’MALLEY AMBITIONS: Here’s what Chris Cillizza of The Fix on the Washington Post said about Martin O’Malley in a rundown of Democratic candidates for president:

“6. Martin O’Malley: On paper, the Maryland governor looks great. He’s built a governing record in the Old Line State — guns, the death penalty, gay marriage, etc. — that liberals will love. He’s handsome. And, he badly wants to be president. Like, really badly. But, as the New Republic’s Alec MacGillis noted in a recent piece on O’Malley: “For all his gym-rat, pub-rock credentials, O’Malley is not a very charismatic politician.” There is a “Democratic Tim Pawlenty” narrative building around O’Malley at the moment.”

CARDIN ANNOUNCES: The race to become Maryland’s next attorney general started Monday as Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat, became the first candidate to formally launch a campaign, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

Cardin is seeking the office currently held by Doug Gansler, who was first elected in 2006, writes Bryan Sears of Patch.com. He represents the 11th District which includes Owings Mills, Pikesville and a portion of Timonium.

BROWN PICKS UP MORE ENDORSEMENTS: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Monday touted endorsements of his 2014 gubernatorial bid by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Senate President Mike Miller and more than 25 other state and local officials from Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland, writes John Wagner of the Post.

Here’s Erin Cox’s Sun story on the endorsements.

NEXT SENATE CANDIDATE? Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland speculates on potential candidates for U.S. Senate from Maryland. He names Tom Perez, who President Obama just appointed as Secretary of Labor, among the list.

BAKER CAMPAIGN DONATION: Maryland elections officials have given a committee that poured tens of thousands of dollars into Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker’s 2010 campaign until Aug. 10 to explain why it failed to report a $206,000 donation to his campaign treasury, the Post’s Miranda Spivack reports.

HARFORD TEACHER PROTEST: Teachers in Harford County Public Schools are warning parents about their plans to work-to-rule in the upcoming school year, and how the protest over school funding will affect students both in and outside of the classroom, writes Cindy Mumby in the Dagger. Teachers who work-to-rule perform only their contracted duties, and work only during the hours required by their contract.

ARUNDEL INTERIM SUPER: Anne Arundel County residents are invited to meet the interim superintendent for Anne Arundel County schools today when the school board votes on a contract, Rick Hutzell reports in the Capital-Gazette. Officials however won’t say beforehand who the person is.

SILVER SPRING TRANSIT CENTER: Kara Rose of the Gazette reports that a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority official said in a letter Friday that if Montgomery County continues on its current course in repairing the beleaguered Silver Spring Transit Center, the county will be responsible for future maintenance. The county, meanwhile, believes it shaped its current plans for the project to respond to concerns WMATA expressed after initial plans for the repairs were drafted.