August 27, 2013

State Roundup, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Print More

PRISON OFFICIALS OUT: The security chief at a maximum-security prison in Western Maryland was removed from the job after senior-level staff failed to notify a guard of threats against him before he was stabbed by an inmate, reports Kevin Rector and Carrie Wells for the Sun. The move followed Friday’s announcement that a top prison official will retire amid calls that he step down in light of a string of inmate-on-officer attacks this summer at North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland.

Jon Galley, who oversees the North Branch Correctional Institution near Cumberland, announced his retirement on Friday. The AFSCME Union called it a good first step, reports WBFF-TV.

CHICKEN MANURE: The state Department of Agriculture pulled back a proposed regulation Monday aimed at reducing farm runoff polluting the Chesapeake Bay after chicken growers warned it could cripple the state’s lucrative poultry industry if imposed now, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun. The changes were governing where farmers may use chicken manure to fertilize their crops.

In a matter of hours on Monday, Eastern Shore lawmakers and farming interest groups went from outraged to satisfied with the path of proposed state regulations, writes Alexander Pyles.

ASSAULT ON STATE LAWS: In an op-ed in the Sun, Del. Tom Hucker and Sen. Jennie Forehand, co-chairs of the Maryland Joint Committee on Federal Relations, writes that proposed federal legislation would get rid of state laws that address peculiar agriculture, health and safety concerns. When issues of public health and safety are concerned, a state should be able to protect its citizens as it sees fit — including by going beyond federal protections when necessary. Federal health and safety protections should always be considered a floor, not a ceiling, they write.

HI-SPEED FUNDING: Charlie Hayward on MarylandReporter.com writes that state auditors have found that the Department of Information Technology did not maintain adequate internal controls in managing a $158 million project to upgrade and expand Maryland’s high-speed fiber optics infrastructure that was funded predominantly by federal stimulus dollars.

FRANCHOT WARNS YOUNG: Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young has tried inviting state officials to take back the roughly $200,000 they invested in the county’s nursing and assisted living centers that he is hoping to sell to a private firm, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post. He has even suggested going ahead with the sale without state permission. But state Comptroller Peter Franchot believe that action would be premature and carry considerable risk, his spokesman says.

CARDIN ON SEQUESTER: In front of several hundred employees of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin pledged Monday to do “everything in my power” to put an end to federal sequestration budget cuts that have hit federal agencies and contractors throughout Montgomery and Frederick counties, reports Kevin James Shay for the Gazette. Cardin said, “I’m tired of seeing federal workers be made the scapegoat for every budget battle.”

HARRIS ON EVERYTHING: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris held a town hall meeting in Chestertown and answered questions on a wide variety of topics ranging from NSA spying to President Obama’s citizenship to the farm bill, writes Craig O’Donnell in the Cecil Whig.

Maryland Food Bank leaderboard

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Fraser Smith of WYPR-FM and Alexander Pyles from the Daily Record talk about issues some Maryland candidates have with the state’s campaign finance laws.

AYYUB CITES PRESSURE TO WITHDRAW: Bill Turque of the Post reports that the UM engineering professor recruited by a coalition of minority group leaders to compete for the upcoming Maryland Senate vacancy in Montgomery County’s District 15 is citing pressure from elected officials and “discouraging” e-mails from party activists among reasons he withdrew his name. “They were very heavy-handed in trying to get me out of the race,” Bilal Ayyub said. Montgomery County has never sent a candidate of color to the state senate.

DEL. CANE FILES FOR RE-ELECTION: Del. Rudy Cane has filed with the Maryland Board of Elections seeking another term in office, reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. While the primary is still 10 months away, the incumbent for District 37A already has one Democratic primary challenger, Wicomico County Council member Sheree Sample-Hughes, who filed in July.

DWYER’S FUTURE: Dan Furmansky of Maryland Juice first talks about other columns calling for Del. Don Dwyer’s resignation and asking that he seek help for his apparent alcohol problem, then adds his own opinion that the Maryland General Assembly should be consistent with its punishment of those members convicted of crimes. He recalls the ouster of Del. Tiffany Alston and wonders why Dwyer wasn’t ousted after his first drunk driving conviction.

The Capital-Gazette editorial board has also called for Dwyer to step down, writing that Dwyer’s personal problems have become a public matter since he brought them onto local roads and waterways. It adds that his government responsibilities are obviously not a top priority for him right now.

YOUNG SAYS MONEY FACTOR: Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young, who has decided not to seek the Republican nomination for governor, had drawn buzz by collecting nearly $450,000 when the first fundraising figures were announced in January. But he told Ryan Marshall of the Gazette that he would have stood little chance in a general election in which he’d been told he’d need to raise $12 million to $15 million. “I have no clue where I would’ve gotten that money,” Young said.

GARRETT JUDGESHIP: The Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission for Commission District 5 has chosen three names to forward to the governor for consideration for the position of Garrett County District Court judge, reports the Cumberland Times News.