September 6, 2013

State Roundup, September 6, 2013

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MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: A powerful voice joined the growing chorus to raise the state’s minimum wage Thursday as Senate President Mike Miller said it was time for Maryland to act, writes Erin Cox and Luke Broadwater in the Sun. “Blue-collar people are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet,” Miller said

Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other elected officials from her city call for a higher minimum wage in Maryland, adding their voices to those trying to nudge state lawmakers on the issue, reports John Wagner for the Post.

RUN ON GUNS: Maryland is experiencing a run on guns before some of the toughest firearms laws in the nation take effect next month, testing the limits of State Police to process the tens of thousands of additional applications being submitted, reports Meredith Somers in the Washington Times. State Police say that through Aug. 31 they had received 85,141 gun-purchase applications this year. For all of last year, police received 70,099 applications and in 2011 they received 46,339 applications.

STATEWIDE STANDARDS: Gov. Martin O’Malley pledged Thursday to respond to the case of a man with Down syndrome who died in the custody of Frederick County sheriff’s deputies by developing statewide training standards for law enforcement officers and first responders on how to interact with people who have disabilities, reports John Wagner in the Post.

O’Malley met for about 45 minutes Thursday with the family of Robert “Ethan” Saylor, whose death in police custody sparked a nationwide Internet campaign dubbed “Justice for Ethan,” reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. The governor did not immediately agree to launch the independent investigation the family requested, though a spokeswoman said he is “exploring all options to ensure that this never happens to another Marylander again.”

Three off-duty Frederick County Sheriffs working at the movie theater intervened when Saylor refused to leave the theater after seeing the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” reports Don Harrison for WMAR-TV.

Sun editorial writers urge the state to take meaningful steps to prevent such deaths through better training methods and policies for law enforcement officers who find themselves dealing with people who suffer from mental or developmental disabilities.

MANURE REGS: Timothy Sandoval of the Carroll County Times reports that the state Department of Agriculture has announced that, after concerns were raised by farmers, new proposed requirements on how much fertilizer and manure growers can use in certain areas may be phased in rather than implemented this fall.

END OF SUMMER: In a column for Center Maryland, Laslo Boyd writes about politics in Maryland in September, as the summer’s political rituals end and candidates fall into place, or stumble, into place.

KREBS IN DISTRICT 5: Blair Ames of the Sun writes that Del. Susan Krebs, an Eldersburg Republican, formally announced her plans to seek reelection to the House of Delegates in District 5.

FLANAGAN IN DISTRICT 9B: Former state Transportation Secretary and Republican state Del. Bob Flanagan has announced his candidacy to represent District 9B in the House of Delegates, Amanda Yeager writes in the Howard County Times. Flanagan, 67, joins business owner Carol Loveless, a Republican, and blogger and former Columbia Association Board member Tom Coale, a Democrat, in the race.

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EILAND IN DISTRICT 13: Fred Eiland has thought about running for office for the past five years. And on his birthday — July 23 — he made it official by filing for the state delegate race in District 13, Howard County Times’ Amanda Yeager writes. Dels. Shane Pendergrass and Frank Turner have represented District 13 since 1995. Guy Guzzone, the district’s third delegate since 2007, announced a run for retiring District 13 Sen. Jim Robey’s seat earlier this summer. Pendergrass, Turner and Guzzone already have endorsed physician Janet Siddiqui.

DISTRICT 20 CANDIDATE: Silver Spring attorney George Zokle has always thought about running for office and while he said there is never a perfect time to run, his time is now in the field expected to be crowded for a District 20 legislative seat, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.

TIE FOR PIPKIN’S SEAT: With less than a week to go until the deadline for choosing a candidate to succeed former Sen. E.J. Pipkin of District 36, it continues to appear that Gov. Martin O’Malley will be the one breaking the tie, writes Jack Shaum for the Easton Star Democrat. Representatives of all four Republican Central Committees in the district confirmed they have completed voting and that two are for Del. Steve Hershey and two are for Del. Michael Smigiel.

LOLLAR CAMPAIGNS: Charles Lollar brought his gubernatorial announcement tour through the Lower Shore on Thursday, speaking at the Hudson farm near Berlin to show his support for Maryland agriculture, report Charlene Sharpe and Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times. Lollar criticized the lawsuit against the Hudsons as well as phosphorous management tool regulations. A short video of his appearance tops the story.

Lollar, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor against Harford County Executive David Craig and Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County, also stopped in Cambridge Thursday morning at the Bay Country Bakery, writes Gail Dean for the Easton Star Democrat.

FREDERICK EXEC RUN: Former Frederick County Commissioner Jan Gardner has filed to open a candidate committee account and says she is considering a run for county executive, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

HOWARD EXEC RUN: It’s almost official: District 1 Howard County Council member Courtney Watson, a Democrat, has set the date that political observers expect will be her campaign announcement for a county executive run. Watson is expected to announce her campaign at an event on Saturday, Sept. 21 in Columbia, reports Amanda Yeager for the Howard County Times.

ARUNDEL POLITICS: Among this week’s Political Notes in the Capital Gazette: The Anne Arundel County Council unanimously appointed seven members of the Salary Standard Commission, which will set council members’ compensation and allowances for the next four years beginning in 2014.

2104 ASSEMBLY CANDIDATES: We’ve updated the list since Wednesday, adding some names and correcting some links so we have the most complete and useful list possible of General Assembly candidates. If there’s someone we’ve missed who’s announced, filed or has a Facebook campaign page or website, please write Len@MarylandReporter.com.

CRAIG INTERVIEW: Charles Duffy of Political Pulse on MoCo cable interviews Harford County Executive David Craig, a GOP candidate for governor. Duffy asks him how he is going to overcome large blocks of Democratic voters in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and Baltimore City.

HADDAWAY IN MoCo: Taking a hard look at Maryland’s taxes and government agencies will be a key part of Craig’s administration if he’s elected governor in 2014, his running mate, Del. Jeannie Haddaway, told a group of Montgomery County Republicans Tuesday, Kate Alexander reports in the Gazette.

DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA: A bill making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil rather than criminal offense will be introduced in the coming state legislative session, after failing to advance this year, Ryan Marshall reports in the Gazette. Sen. Bobby Zirkin of Owings Mills said he will “absolutely” introduce a decriminalization bill in the 2014 General Assembly session.

GAME-CHANGING PRIMARY SWITCH: Gazette columnist Blair Lee describes how the switch to a June primary next year has already been a game-changer in this election cycle.

MD GOP BENCH: In a commentary running in MarylandReporter.com, Professor Todd Eberly asks whether the MD GOP has a deep bench for statewide office. He describes what he thinks the Maryland Republican Party needs to establish as a “strong bench” of potential statewide candidates for offices like attorney general in order to break the state’s one-party monopoly.