November 8, 2013

State Roundup, November 8, 2013

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RAISE THE WAGE: John Wagner reports in the Post that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday launched an online petition drive to raise the state’s minimum wage, saying, “We must take action to strengthen and grow the middle class.”

The Democratic governor wrote in an email from his political action committee that he believes the state must make the choice to raise the minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour, writes the AP’s Brian Witte in an article in the Cumberland Times-News.

OBSCURE HEALTH WEBSITE: Almost half of Marylanders still think the new health care law will have a positive impact on the quality of health care in Maryland, a new Goucher Poll found. But only half of those surveyed said they had heard of the website MarylandHealthConnection.gov, the state’s access portal for health insurance, writes Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com.

OBAMA’S OK IN MD: President Obama’s job approval has fallen into the low 40s in many national polls. But in true-blue Maryland, it’s a different story, according to the new Goucher Poll: 55% of Free State residents approve of the job Obama is doing, while 39% disapprove, writes John Wagner for the Post.

POT ARRESTS: Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew reports that Maryland now has one of the highest arrest rates for marijuana in the nation and the rate in Baltimore City is the highest of any jurisdiction in the state, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

BIG TEN PR: The University of Maryland said Thursday that it paid $3,000 to a social media firm last year and directed it to correct any “inaccuracies” appearing on websites during the initially stormy debate over the school’s decision to join the Big Ten Conference, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun.

The editorial board for the Sun opines that it’s difficult not to feel a twinge of disappointment at the news that the University of Maryland was engaged in an effort to minimize the public hostility that school officials knew would accompany their decision one year ago to join the Big Ten.

SHUTDOWN’S COST: John Fritze of the Sun reports that the 16-day shutdown of the federal government last month resulted in $2 billion in lost productivity and, at its peak, left 40% of the federal workforce furloughed, according to a report requested by Sen. Barbara Mikulski and released by the Obama administration Thursday.

ROBIN HOOD TAX: CNS’s Lucy Westcott reports , in the Cecil Whig that a proposed financial transaction tax on Wall Street, known as the Robin Hood Tax, would increase revenue and prosperity for Americans, U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards told an audience during a briefing at the Robin Hood Tax Campaign’s action conference on Capitol Hill last week.

CONWAY CHALLENGER: Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry has announced he plans to run for the seat currently held by longtime state Sen. Joan Carter Conway. Henry said he is running in the 43rd Senate district to address “important issues” on the state level, including liquor regulation and school funding.

GOP GOVERNOR? WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Richard Cross III, blogger and former GOP staffer, talk about why the conditions do not seem to be right for a Republican victory in the governor’s race next year.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

BUTT KICKIN’ DUTCH MAY NOT RUN: U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said constituents are asking him to run to be Maryland’s next governor and he thinks he’d “kick butt” if he were elected in 2014. But the six-term Democratic congressman and former Baltimore County executive said Wednesday he’s leaning toward not running for the state’s top office, reports Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette.

But maybe he will. Dutch gives a more conflicted view of his decision-making to Bryan Sears at the Daily Record.

BUSINESS CLIMATE CHANGE: In addressing the state’s business climate and how the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor approach the issue, the editorial board for the Sun writes that the GOP candidates’ idea that the state should drop its philosophy of investing in high-quality education, infrastructure, health care and other amenities is not only unrealistic, it would play against Maryland’s greatest assets.

ATTY GEN CANDIDATES: The four Democratic candidates running for attorney general of Maryland sought to distinguish themselves based on experience and vision in a forum Thursday at which there was broad agreement on many of the policy issues they would face in office, writes John Wagner in the Post.

With no Republicans running, few differences on issues emerged during a forum attended by the four Democrats in the race for Attorney General, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun. And the structured format did not encourage dramatic interactions between the candidates — and there were none.

ANNAPOLIS MAYOR’S RACE: At long last, there have been more votes counted in the Annapolis mayoral election. But there still is no final tally, reports Elisha Sauers in the Capital-Gazette. Just after 2 a.m. today, the Annapolis Board of Canvassers fed the first batch of 220 absentee ballots that had been accepted without any challenges into the scanner for counting.

STILL TOO CLOSE: The Board of Canvassers will resume their meeting at noon today, when they’ll review more than 100 provisional ballots that were cast on Election Day on Tuesday. Heading into the meeting, Republican mayoral candidate Mike Pantelides held on to a 50-vote lead over incumbent Democrat Josh Cohen, down from an 84-vote lead on Tuesday, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. The story is topped by a video report by Pat Warren of WJZ-TV.

“I feel good, I’m confident,” Pantelides told John Rydell of WBFF-TV. “Typically absentee ballots almost always fall the same way as the popular vote on election day. So if that holds true, we’ll win.”

BALLOT CHALLENGES CRITICIZED: After more than 13 hours watching the examination of absentee and provisional ballots Thursday, Mayor Josh Cohen’s campaign team released a statement criticizing the level of scrutiny from challenger Mike Pantelides’ lawyers, reports the Capital-Gazette’s Tina Reed.

Here’s a photo gallery of the Thursday count from the Capital-Gazette.

UNDERHANDED POLITICS: The editorialists for the Frederick News Post write that we’re already having to take Frederick Alderman-elect Phil Dacey and his campaign to the woodshed for underhanded politics, whether he authorized it or members of his campaign did. Ted Dacey, the candidate’s brother, acknowledged asking the state GOP to make a last-minute robocall on Tuesday attacking Democrat Donna Kuzemchak over nonpayment of taxes — payments she subsequently honored.

MOBBIE TIME: It’s time for the Mobbies! Vote for MarylandReporter.com. Maybe some good will come of it.

PEPCO COMPLAINTS: Just hours after Pepco executives touted earnings and promised investors a push for higher rates, power reliability advocates castigated the utility and the Maryland system they say hurts customers, Kate Alexander writes in the Gazette. Pepco representatives were not welcome Wednesday evening at a forum in North Bethesda, designed to educate candidates for state and local office about the current regulatory climate.

TOBACCO TAX: Rather than another tax hike on cigarettes that encourages smuggling, Gazette columnist Blair Lee suggests Maryland ought to consider a total ban on the product.