August 1, 2013

State Roundup, Aug. 1, 2013

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BOOST TO MARYLAND: John Fritze of the Sun is reporting that a report released today by the Obama administration contends that a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws such as the legislation approved in June by the Senate would boost Maryland’s economic output by $740 million and add more than 8,000 jobs in the state.

RISING WATERS PART 4: THE PORT OF BALTIMORE: The Port of Baltimore is a powerful economic engine. With more than 14,000 jobs, six public marine cargo terminals and one cruise terminal within the port, it broke records in 2012, handling, receiving and shipping 9.59 million tons of cargo worldwide. But it is facing a future of more flooding. Sea levels are rising much faster on the heavily populated East Coast, about 1 foot in Maryland alone during the last century, CNS’s Lucy Westcott And Caitlin Zentgraf report in Part 4 of a series in MarylandReporter.com.

FOR BOTTLE BILL: In an op-ed for the Sun, Emily Scarr of Maryland PIRG is urging Maryland to adopt a bottle bill to get containers out of the trash heaps, waterways and roadsides and into recycling bins.

MEDICAID FRAUD PROTECTION: Del. Sam Arora, whose bill to expand Maryland’s False Health Claims Act to all state contractors failed in the General Assembly last session, said the state’s $300,000 share of a Medicaid fraud judgment proves the need for broader legislation to protect the state’s taxpayers, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record.

POOR RAIN TAX IMPLEMENTATION: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post opines that the effort to address rainwater runoff as it affects the health of the Chesapeake Bay is a worthy enterprise, but this law and its implementation leave a lot to be desired.

BARS & DRUNK PATRONS: In a column for the Post, Robert McCartney writes that it is time for Maryland lawmakers to step up and make bars responsible for drunken patrons.

PENSION RECOVERY: A funny thing happened to the Maryland state pension fund on the way to fiscal perdition: It recovered lost ground, reformed itself and came up with a 10-year plan to put its retirement programs on solid, long-term footing, writes Barry Rascovar in his Political Maryland blog.

CREMATORY OK’D: Jack Lambert of the Capital-Gazette reports that Maryland Cremation Services, having secured a crucial permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment, plans to open an on-site crematory by fall. The Millersville crematory was awarded an air emissions permit on July 24.

MENHADEN CATCH: Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star-Democrat reports that a recently organized group, the Harvesters Land and Sea Coalition, is calling for the withdrawal of regulations put into effect in June by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the total allowable catch of menhaden, alleging that DNR didn’t follow proper procedure for promulgating the regulations.

CHANGE MD GOP: As the Maryland Republican Party considers reforming its nominating process to include unaffiliated voters, it seems there are as many opinions on the matter as there are Republicans. Opponents of change have the rhetoric, but advocates have the facts on their side, opines former GOP Del. Don Murphy in an op-ed for the Sun. Republicans have not re-elected a governor in Maryland in more than 50 years and have not controlled the legislature in anyone’s lifetime. Maintaining the status quo and waiting for the Democrats to lose is not a winning strategy.

FROSH ON AG’S RACE: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts Maryland state Sen. Brian Frosh, who represents the 16th District in Montgomery County and just announced he will run for Maryland Attorney General.

VETS ENDORSE BROWN: Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown picked up an endorsement of his 2014 gubernatorial bid Wednesday from a national veterans organization, John Wagner writes in the Post. The backing of VoteVets.org served to highlight Brown’s military service.

The group that calls itself the “largest progressive organization of veterans in America,” writes Alexander Pyles for the Daily Record.

ARORA NOT ON SLATE: The political backwash from the 2011-2012 debate in Annapolis over same-sex marriage is about to further saturate Montgomery County’s District 19, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Magazine. Three of the district’s four incumbents – Sen. Roger Manno and Dels. Bonnie Cullison and Ben Kramer – are likely to form a joint slate as they seek re-election in 2014, according to sources. But if there are details still to be resolved on the timing and structure of such a combined effort, one thing is certain: The slate will not include the district’s other incumbent, Del. Sam Arora.

O’MALLEY PAC: A pair of campaign finance reports released Wednesday show that Gov. Martin O’Malley has raised nearly $500,000 in a federal campaign account he created last year and has made his first effort at spreading the cash around in early presidential primary states, reports Michael Dresser and John Fritze for the Sun.

The Post’s John Wagner writes that, during the first six months of the year, O’Malley’s PAC, dubbed O’ Say Can You See, maintained a so-called “non-federal” account, allowing him to take contributions of any size. Seven individuals and four companies gave O’Malley’s self-imposed limit of $10,000. Wagner gives a breakdown of those donors. Wagner writes that O’Malley is also serving this year as finance chairman for the Democratic Governors Association, a group he formerly led.

OBAMA TAPS FORMER STATE REGULATOR: President Barack Obama has appointed Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former top Maryland financial regulator, as deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

STATE AID FOR HOMEOWNERS: Several lawmakers are calling on the state to compensate Baltimore City amid new disclosures that errors in the historic property tax credit program for homeowners have cut revenue to the city over the past several years, reports Scott Calvert in the Sun.

DEVELOPER FACILITY COSTS IN WA CO: A public hearing scheduled for next week will give residents a chance to weigh in on proposed changes to a Washington County ordinance that mandates how school-mitigation costs will be levied on developer, reports C.J. Lovelace for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The proposed changes include creating a formula to determine monetary contributions when schools exceed student capacity thresholds currently specified in the ordinance, but do not exceed 120% of the state-rated capacity.

CECIL PLAYGROUNDS: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Community Parks and Playgrounds Program has awarded grants to two Cecil County towns: Elkton will receive $28,000 and Cecilton $17,000 to enhance their playgrounds, writes Jane Bellmyer for the Cecil Whig.