August 22, 2013

State Roundup, August 22, 2013

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TESTY BPW MEETING: Alexander Pyles of the Daily Record blogs that Gov. Martin O’Malley did not appear to enjoy himself during a nearly six hour meeting of the Board of Public Works on Wednesday. It’s unlikely that many did. A number of controversial issues at the panel’s first meeting in nearly a month brought crowds of people to testify in the horribly crowded second-floor room. The next six briefs address items discussed at the long meeting.

   1. LATER SCHOOL START: Comptroller Peter Franchot’s campaign to push back the start of the public school year until after Labor Day picked up the cautious support of Gov. Martin O’Malley. After Franchot opened a meeting of the Board of Public Works Wednesday by laying out the case for an extended summer vacation, O’Malley said he hopes a task force studying the proposal supports the idea.

2. GREENE TURTLE LOAN OK’D: The state Board of Public Works approved Wednesday a controversial loan to the owners of the Greene Turtle franchise in Towson over the objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

   3. CARE FACILITIES’ SALE: The Board of Public Works also voted to put off a decision on the sale of two Frederick County-owned care facilities until two court cases challenging the transactions are resolved. Since the state invested $200,000 in the construction of the two facilities, the board must weigh in on the sale, Bethany Rodgers reports for the Frederick News Post. The questions before it are whether to approve the sale and whether to require the county to return the state grant.

4. COOLER SCHOOLS: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz says he will ask the County Council for $17.2 million to fund air conditioning in five public schools, writes the Sun’s Alison Knezevich. On Wednesday, the state Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved $11.7 million for air conditioning of county schools.

    5. CHILDREN’S LEGAL AID: Gov. O’Malley absorbed a rare drubbing as he found himself on the losing end of a 2-1 vote by the Board of Public Works, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun. The defeat on the proposed award of a contract for children’s legal services came as Treasurer Nancy Kopp joined Comptroller Peter Franchot in voting to send the matter back to the Department of Human Resources, suggesting that it re-examine how it chooses such providers.

    6. WETLAND LICENSES: Pat Furgurson of the Capital-Gazette reports that the Board of Public Works approved three wetland licenses for Anne Arundel County projects.

CORRECTION: Due to an error in the original posting on the DelmarvaNow website (yet to be corrected), the Aug. 20 State Roundup incorrectly attributed an op-ed on the Affordable Care Act in the Salisbury Daily Times entirely to Dr. Mark Endrey. That was actually part of a point-counterpoint with Mike Pretl. Here is Endrey’s posting, more critical of ACA.

DWYER SAFE FOR NOW: Del. Brian McHale, co-chairman of Maryland’s legislative ethics committee, on Wednesday said that the new drunk-driving charge against Del. Don Dwyer is part of a “very regrettable” set of events. John Wagner of the Post writes that McHale added that the committee would follow its normal practice of letting the legal process play out before initiating any possible review of Dwyer’s conduct.

VALLARIO CAMPAIGN LOAN SOURCE: The Post’s John Wagner is reporting that Del. Joseph Vallario said this week that his campaign committee has repeatedly misidentified the source of a $50,000 loan it received in 2009, which as recently as January was reported as coming from his law practice’s escrow account but instead, he said, came from his personal funds.

SCOTT LEADS FOR PIPKIN’S SEAT: In the insider race to succeed Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin in the seat he resigned on the Upper Shore, former Republican Party State Chair Audrey Scott has become the surprise front runner. Two of the central committees in the four counties of District 36 have voted for her, dissing the campaigns of current Dels. Mike Smigiel and Steve Hershey, Len Lazarick and Dan Menefee are reporting for MarylandReporter.com.

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MIRABILE RUNS FOR DELEGATE: Frank Mirabile, who has lost twice in races against U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings has decided to seek a state level office, filing to run for the District 9A delegate seat recently vacated by Gail Bates, writes Amanda Yeager for the Howard County Times.

O’MALLEY’S CLIMATE PLAN: Dan Rodricks of WYPR-FM holds a panel discussion about Gov. Martin O’Malley’s climate change plan, which sets a goal of reducing carbon emissions in the state 25% by 2020. It is considered among the most aggressive in the nation. Is it a plausible plan or window dressing for O’Malley’s presidential ambitions? How will the state implement the plan? How will it affect consumers and businesses?

MINORITY CONTRACTS: The O’Malley administration has upped its “aspirational” goal for minority participation in state-funded contracts from 25% to 29%, with the governor and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown lauding the effort in a press release, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.

DELEGATION TO WAIT: A meeting held by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to discuss a spike in inmate-on-correctional officer violence at North Branch Correctional Institution will be held without the presence of the District 1 legislative delegation, reports Greg Larry for the Cumberland Times-News. The delegation is awaiting a response from the state to a letter detailing union demands.

GANSLER & BROWN: Despite the recent posturing and shadow boxing by gubernatorial rivals Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler, writes Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland, neither candidate’s track record gives us much idea about how he would perform as governor.

GOP EXEC FERGUSON OUT: Republican blogger Jeff Quinton of the Quinton Report carries a letter from David Ferguson explaining why he left as executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.

WA CO LAND PROTEST: Opposition to a Washington County proposal to change land-use regulations around four towns including Hancock showed no signs of abating Wednesday night when about 65 people turned out for an informational meeting —  including one resident who brought a petition with 66 signatures of people against the plan, reports Dave McMillion for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Residents said they are afraid that they would be forced to hook up to public water and sewer, and pay town taxes. A short video report tops the story.