October 30, 2013

State Roundup, October 30, 2013

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FIXING HEALTH WEBSITE: Although the websites are different, the responses from state and federal officials have been largely the same: They’re pleased with the interest their health exchange website is garnering, yet dissatisfied with its performance to date. In response to the concerns, Maryland Health Connection’s prime contractor is conducting a number of changes, reports Rachel Roubein for the Carroll County Times.

CASINO DECISION: Three companies vying to build Prince George’s County’s first casino have made their presentations and now await selection of the winner, which is expected by the end of the year by the Maryland Video Lottery Facility Location Commission, Chase Cook reports for the Gazette.

SUBSIDIZING WITH SENSE: Bruce Vail of In These Times writes that Baltimore City and the state of Maryland put together a package of tax incentives worth more than $43 million to entice Amazon to come to the city.  But Greg LeRoy, of the national union-backed advocacy group Good Jobs First, says that, “Retail subsidies rarely make sense, because a company like Amazon or Wal-Mart chooses a location because it has specific advantages for their business. So you are paying them to come to a place where they would come anyway.”

URBAN RUNOFF: In an opinion piece from Bay Journal News Service appearing in MarylandReporter.com, Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation writes that polluted runoff from urban and suburban streets, parking lots, rooftops and other impervious surfaces keeps increasing. It creates flooding and can threaten human health and carries toxic chemicals into local waterways. In Anne Arundel County, the Public Works Department estimates that such runoff contributes more than 880,000 pounds of nitrogen pollution to local waterways every year.

DWYER IN ACCIDENT: Del. Don Dwyer suffered minor injuries in a car accident Tuesday morning in Pasadena, reports Kate Yoon in the Capital Gazette. Police cited a 29-year-old Glen Burnie woman with two traffic violations after the accident, and said the three-term delegate was not at fault in the crash.

On Friday, Dwyer was sentenced to a total of 60 days in jail in those cases, to be served on weekends, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun.

ROBEY AS MAJORITY LEADER: Amanda Yeager of the Sun writes that when Maryland Senate President Mike Miller took the opportunity to announce that state Sen. Jim Robey would be the next Senate Majority Leader during a speech at an Oct. 23 fundraiser for Del. Guy Guzzone, everyone in the room was the first to know. “Let’s just say it was officially announced that night,” Robey said Monday, Oct. 28 of the appointment. “There had been some discussion beforehand, but that’s the first time I knew for sure.”

GANSLER NOT EARLY ENOUGH: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that tor months, Attorney General Doug Gansler said he wasn’t going to campaign for governor in earnest because it was too early – no one was paying attention. Now, thanks to those Beach Week pictures going viral, everybody, and not just everybody in Maryland, knows who he is and that he’s running for governor – even if they don’t know anything about his long career and what he’s about. That’s a problem with no solution.

WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland talk about Doug Gansler’s recent spate of bad publicity and what he needs to do to change the narrative.

BROWN ISSUES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CURBS: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Tuesday announced a package of initiatives to curb domestic violence, including the statewide expansion of hospital-based assistance programs and easing the standard of proof to get a protective order, writes John Wagner for the Post.

GANSLER FIRES BACK: Maryland Juice runs a press release from Brown rival Doug Gansler that accuses Brown of sinking domestic violence legislation to curry favor with Annapolis insiders when he was in the legislature.

Brown’s camp came right back as Del. Cheryl Glenn of Baltimore, an ally of the lieutenant governor and a former victim of abuse, charged that Gansler was using the issue to “score cheap political points,” writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

BROWN AIDE: Red Maryland blogs that Anthony Brown’s campaign manager, Justin Schall, has quite a history, and it isn’t pretty. The column then tracks Schall’s volatile history with the press and how campaigns he has worked for have fared.

LOLLAR SITE DOWN: The Sun’s Michael Dresser writes that Charles Lollar, one of the three announced Republican candidates for governor next year, said his campaign website has been off line for four or five days but denied its absence is a sign of disarray in his campaign. Other Republican sources disagreed, with one respected blog on GOP affairs labeling the campaign a “trainwreck.”

That GOP blogger is Jeff Quinton of the Quinton Report. Here’s his piece on the subject. He’s been tracking Lollar’s campaign for weeks.

CARDIN ON BEING ATTY GEN: In a video interview, Del. Jon Cardin, a candidate for Attorney General, talks with Center Maryland about his management style and how he would want to run that office along with examples of the types of legislation he has supported over the years.

LEGGETT MAY VETO RAISES: Bill Turque of the Post reports that Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said he is considering vetoing council legislation passed Oct. 22 that awards raises to council members who will take office in 2014, calling the package — which totals more than 28% over four years — excessive. It would bring their salaries to $136,000 a year.