September 5, 2013

State Roundup, September 5, 2013

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SEQUESTER RESERVES: Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Wednesday that he is tapping the first $9 million of a $100 million reserve account established by the General Assembly to mitigate the effects of the federal sequester, the Post’s John Wagner is reporting. O’Malley said the funds would be used to “protect Marylanders against the harm that these arbitrary cuts would cause” to several initiatives that are supported by federal funds.

O’Malley announced that a legislative committee approved his request to spend $9 million on programs including meals for senior citizens and early childhood education for low-income children.

STORMWATER POLITICS: The federal government should help the county meet a financial burden for bay cleanup that runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman told federal lawmakers Tuesday, reports Pat Furgurson for the Capital-Gazette. Others objected to using the Bay cleanup as a political football.

The Republican executive vetoed fee legislation in Arundel in the spring, calling it unfair and poorly explained, only to be overridden by the County Council. She predicted that it would be an election issue next year, reports Tim Wheeler in the Sun.

TAX ELEPHANT: The CEOs of Maryland’s major businesses have found the “elephant in the room” that stands in the way of economic growth here: the state’s non-competitive tax structure. That was the conclusion of a report on Maryland competitiveness by the Greater Baltimore Committee released Wednesday, according to an article in MarylandReporter.com.

The GBC, a regional business advocacy group, released a report Wednesday detailing recommendations for increasing Maryland’s competitiveness based on surveys from more than 250 CEOs, work sessions and discussions with business executives, Sarah Meehan reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

STATEHOUSE DOME: You’ll likely never see it otherwise: Sun photog Algerina Perna gets inside the huge State House dome for a rare look at the 200-year-old structure, offering up 27 photos from inside and out in this photo gallery. Below the gallery is a story by Erin Cox as well as a video.

WEEKEND MARC SERVICE: John Wagner and Dana Hedgpeth of the Post report that weekend MARC train service between Washington and Baltimore City, which has never been offered before and has long been desired by riders, is set to begin on Dec. 7, Gov. Martin O’Malley has announced.

A one-way MARC ticket costs $7 between Baltimore City and Washington, while Amtrak charges between $16 and $32 each way on conventional trains and $42 on the Acela Express, writes Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.

CITY TRANSIT PROJECTS: In a commentary on WYPR-FM, Fraser Smith talks about new Baltimore City transit and school projects and the benefits of a one-party state.

WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Alexander Pyles talk about why some Baltimore City politicians recently wrote to Gov. O’Malley and asked him to change the plan for the Red Line.

MSEA ad

PROTECTING NANTICOKE: The Board of Public Works approved a deal Wednesday that permanently protects environmentally sensitive land along the Nanticoke River on the Eastern Shore, Erin Cox reports in the Sun.

PREMIUM MARKETING: Maryland Health Connection, the online marketplace for state-sponsored health premiums, unveiled a $2.5 million marketing campaign on Tuesday. The campaign will include ads for television, radio and print, reports Jack Lambert in the Capital-Gazette.

With the help of a catchy jingle and the Baltimore Ravens, Marylanders will be urged to sign up for the new health insurance coverage available through federal reforms in an advertising campaign launching this month.

BROWN SELLING: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will spend much of September as salesman-in-chief for Maryland’s new health insurance marketplace, report Scott Dance and Erin Cox in the Sun. The role may cut into his time for campaigning for governor, but the vast public outreach on health care access – an issue Brown has championed  – may ultimately promote his bid.

MIZEUR ENDORSED: Del. Heath Mizeur picked up a dozen endorsements of her gubernatorial bid Wednesday from past and present elected officials in Takoma Park, her hometown, writes John Wagner in the Post. Mizeur, a former Takoma Park council member, called the backing “incredibly meaningful to me” in a statement released by her campaign.

LOLLAR’S STRENGTH: In a commentary in MarylandReporter.com, Todd Eberly writes about GOP candidate Charles Lollar and whether Republicans can embrace him over Harford County Executive David Craig and Del. Ron George.

MoCo LEGISLATIVE CHESSBOARD: David Moon at Maryland Juice offers up a chess game of candidates and would-be candidates with rumors of who is shuffling in and out of Montgomery County House and Senate seats.

DWYER BOND STAYS: A judge on Wednesday denied a prosecutor’s request to revoke the bond of Del. Don Dwyer, who was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence last month while awaiting sentencing on a drunken boating conviction, Tim Pratt reports in the Capital-Gazette.

VP BIDEN AT PORT: Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Port of Baltimore on Monday as part of a tour of East Coast ports seeking federal money to accommodate increased freight expected from the Panama Canal in coming years, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

SMART GROWTH: Former Gov. Parris Glendening told a Frederick group Wednesday, during a talk focused on smart growth, that an increasing number of people are eschewing large, single-family houses in the suburbs and instead settling in dense, walkable communities, writes Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post. However, there’s a growing disconnect between the types of housing people want and what’s available on the market, he said.

BLUES ON SYRIA: He knocked on doors in Ohio for President Barack Obama’s campaign last year and is active in Maryland’s Democratic Party, but Dave Kunes like other Maryland Democrats opposes the president on what has become the central issue of his second term: whether to launch a military strike in Syria.