September 20, 2013

State Roundup, September 20, 2013

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TOLL EXPRESS LANES: Kevin Rector of the Sun reports that rush-hour commuters could pay nearly $5 a day in tolls to travel back and forth on a seven-mile stretch of express toll lanes set to open next year along Interstate 95 east and north of Baltimore, according to proposed pricing approved Thursday by the board of the Maryland Transportation Authority. An MTA video of the new lanes tops the story.

6th CASINO SEARCH: John Wagner and J. Freedom du Lac of the Post report that Maryland’s search for its sixth casino site will intensify next month as a state commission plans to visit the three Prince George’s County locations where gambling companies want to operate: National Harbor, Rosecroft Raceway and a nearby vacant parcel in Fort Washington.

GIRLS DETENTION CENTER: The Sun is reporting that the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services will host a public hearing today, Friday, Sept. 20, from 7 to 9 p.m. regarding the plan to place a new $53 million, 48-bed detention center for girls at 7960 Henryton Road, Marriottsville.

THE ECONOMY: Gov. Martin O’Malley gives an upbeat assessment of Maryland’s economic future, but Comptroller Peter Franchot, well, not so much, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

PHOSPHORUS BRIEFINGS: Beginning next week, the Maryland Department of Agriculture will hold a series of public briefings to explain to farmers a proposed regulation that seeks to reduce phosphorus discharges into the state’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay, writes Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

AFZALI’S NEW HOBBY: Del. Kathy Afzali says she’s been shopping for a hobby lately, and she may have found one: guns, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News-Post. Afzali joined local NRA master training counselor Ben Kelkye on Monday for what she termed a “gun run” to Emmitsburg.

ON LOBBYING: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz talk about state government officials and staffers finding work with lobbying firms and the increased influence lobbying campaigns have in Annapolis.

SECESSION MOVEMENT: Guest host Andrea Seabrook, filling in for Dan Rodricks on WYPR-FM, takes a look at the people and reasons behind the Western Maryland secession movement and gets a perspective on secessionist movements in Maryland and other states. The Maryland group cites high-taxes and Democratic dominance as reasons to form a 51st state.

O’MALLEY WHACKS: With Texas Gov. Rick Perry nipping at his heels, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, in an op-ed in the Post, writes that in Texas, Perry has implemented his vision with gusto, cutting taxes and slashing funding for critical middle-class priorities such as public schools, higher education, health care and infrastructure. The results? Texas ranks 49th in high school graduation, 10th in the rate of poverty and 50th in the percent of residents with even basic health insurance.

GETS WHACKED BACK: In a column in Watchdog Wire, Mark Newgent assails O’Malley’s contentions with some fact checking.

PERRY VISIT: Texas Gov. Rick Perry might have succeeded in his trip to Maryland to lure businesses to his home state, but so far, the only businesses that might move aren’t from Maryland, Kevin James Shay reports in the Gazette. One is based in Virginia, and the other is in Colorado.

Gazette columnist Blair Lee explores the Perrynoia that hit the state this week.

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ON CROSSFIRE: Sun TV critic David Zurawik wonders why O’Malley would debase himself and the debate by going on the show Crossfire. Here’s a video from WJZ about the show.

Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts a roundtable discussion that examines a number of news topics including the debate between Gov. Rick Perry and Gov. O’Malley

Barry Rascovar, for his politicalmaryland.com blog, writes that if CNN’s dreadful news show Crossfire is this generation’s version of a presidential debate, we’re in trouble. It was hard to know the featured players on Wednesday’s program: the obnoxious hosts or the demure and all too pleasant guests, Gov. O’Malley and Perry, he writes. Neither governor could compete with the interruptions and rants in the form of attack questions posed by Newt Gingrich from the conservative right and Stephanie Cutter from the far left.

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ATTY GEN CANDIDATES: The Democratic field for the next attorney general of Maryland is officially growing by two, writes John Wagner for the Post. Del. William Frick filed his paperwork with the State Board of Elections on Wednesday, and Del. Aisha Braveboy said she planned to file as a 2014 candidate by the end of the day Thursday. (She did.)

FRANCHOT FILES: The number of candidates who have officially filed to run for statewide office has grown by two with the addition of Comptroller Peter Franchot for re-election and Del. William Frick for attorney general. Both are Democrats, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

GANSLER AS FIGHTER: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who plans to launch his 2014 campaign for governor next week, offered supporters a preview of his message Thursday with a nearly six-minute video that portrays him as someone who fights for his beliefs, writes John Wagner for the Post.

PRATT ON GANSLER SHORT LIST? Joan Pratt, Baltimore City’s long-serving City Comptroller, confirmed that she has been interviewed by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler as a possible running mate for his soon-to-be-official gubernatorial bid, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew.

AFL-CIO ENDORSEMENT POLICY CRITCIZED: Rivals of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown question the AFL-CIO’s new endorsement policy that says that a candidate must have filed with the Board of Elections by yesterday afternoon, reports John Wagner of the Post. For candidates to file, they would have also had to have chosen a running mate.

CITY CRIME: Gov. O’Malley says he is concerned that Baltimore City has stalled in its efforts to reduce crime, emphasizing that arrest rates have continued to fall as declines in violence have leveled off, reports Justin Fenton and Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

CARDIN QUIZZES ON ARUNDEL FIRE DEPT: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin has asked Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman about efforts to promote diversity in the county’s Fire Department, reports Ben Weathers for the Capital Gazette. Cardin, in a letter dated Sept. 9, said his inquiry was in response to a letter sent to him in March by the county chapter of the NAACP that called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the hiring, promotion, discipline and retention of minorities in the department.

DRUG TASK FORCE CUT: A narcotics task force focused entirely on dismantling drug crimes in Frederick County is becoming dismantled itself — a result of Maryland State Police pulling out of the effort, writes Daniel Gross for the Frederick News Post. Four Maryland state troopers have been pulled from the task force and one remaining trooper will leave in October.

NEW DISTRICT JUDGE: Dan Dearth of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports that longtime Hagerstown attorney Terry Allen Myers has been appointed by Gov. O’Malley to serve as judge on the Washington County District Court.

FRACKING: Candidates for governor are taking different sides on natural gas fracking, Kate Alexander reporter in the Gazette.

DISTRICT 17 CANDIDATE: Laurie-Anne Sayles sees expanding pre-kindergarten as fundamental to preparing children for the rest of their education and, eventually, for good-paying jobs, reports Elizabeth Waibel in the Gazette. Sayles, 32 of Gaithersburg, is seeking to represent District 17 in the House of Delegates.

O’MALLEY FAREWELL: The Gazette editorial page opines that it is a little early for Gov. O’Malley to be taking a farewell tour.