November 13, 2013

State Roundup, November 13, 2013

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SIMONAIRE’S SUNSHINE CREDIT: As part of his “anti-rain tax legislative package,” Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Pasadena, is proposing Maryland jurisdictions that charge a stormwater fee — which opponents call a rain tax — must also offer a tax credit for sunshine. Simonaire’s “Sunshine Tax Credit Act” would credit residents for “a lack of rain and how much sunshine evaporates any existing rain on the ground, thus providing less runoff,” Simonaire said in a release. Alex Jackson reports the story in the Capital-Gazette.

RAIN TAX IN 2014: WYPR’s Joel McCord and Rob Lang of WBAL talk about the continued fight over stormwater fees and what lawmakers might do in the upcoming General Assembly session.

SMALL STREAMS HAVE BIG IMPACT: Tom Horton of the Bay Journal News Service writes in a column for MarylandReporter.com that small streams are less than a quarter of 1% of Maryland’s land and water surface. They are where the Bay begins, close to every resident, where so many are first ensorcelled by the greater Chesapeake aquatic. And one Greenspring Valley stream is fighting for its life against growth.

SUPPORT FOR WAGE HIKE:Progressive Democrats are using new polling results to continue their push for increasing Maryland’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, while they reject attempts to lower corporate taxes, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. A minimum wage hike and corporate tax cut are being discussed by General Assembly leaders ahead of the 2014 session.

BAFFLING SUSPENSIONS: The editorial board of the Sun writes that it’s utterly baffling that Maryland school systems suspended dozens of pre-kindergarten students last year over disciplinary issues. What can a 3-year-old do that is so egregious that a teacher or principal would feel that the only appropriate punishment was to send him or her home?

HBCU RULING: In this video chat, Center Maryland columnist and former Maryland Secretary of Higher Education Laslo Boyd discusses the recent ruling by a federal judge pertaining to historically black colleges and universities.

ARENTZ REPLACES HERSHEY: Gov. Martin O’Malley appointed Steven Arentz, the Republican president of the Queen Anne’s County Board of Commissioners, to the House of Delegates Tuesday. Arentz, 62, will replace Republican Stephen Hershey, a former delegate who was appointed to fill out the term of former Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, who resigned over the summer and moved to Texas, the Sun’s Michael Dresser reports.

CECIL SUES SMIGIEL: Cecil County has filed a lawsuit Thursday in Cecil County Circuit Court seeking legal sanctions against Del. Michael Smigiel. the suit aims to force Smigiel, an Elkton attorney, to repay nearly $40,000 in legal fees and court costs spent by the county this year to defend itself in a lawsuit he filed on behalf of the chairman of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee, in January, Cheryl Mattix reports in the Cecil Whig.

1st WEEKEND IN JAIL: Del. Don Dwyer made it through his first weekend in jail for drunken driving, one day after his lawyer filed a request to have his sentenced reduced, reports Zoe Read in the Capital-Gazette. All seems to have gone smoothly.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

SIMMONS CHALLENGES FOREHAND: After serving four terms in the House of Delegates, Rockville Democrat Luiz Simmons plans to seek the District 17 Senate seat now held by Sen. Jennie Forehand, Ryan Marshall reports in the Gazette.

GLADDEN OPPONENT: Park Heights community leader Will Hanna announced this week he is running for state Senate against incumbent Lisa Gladden, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun. Hanna served 11 years in the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command, including a combat tour during Operation Desert Storm.

SEN. MONTGOMERY SEEKS RE-ELECTION: State Sen. Karen Montgomery is seeking another term, hoping to continue her work on the environment, education and transportation issues in Montgomery County, writes Terri Hogan for the Gazette. (Montgomery filed in the spring.)

CAMPUS ASSAULT REPORTS: Del. Jon Cardin, who is running for attorney general, said he will introduce legislation requiring Maryland colleges and universities to publicly report all incidences of sexual assault on their campuses and to provide services for individuals harmed by these assaults, according to a report at WMAR-TV.

mobbies-badge‘DARK MONEY’ PLEDGE: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Doug Gansler is calling on his fellow Democratic rivals for Maryland governor to sign a pledge to reject independent expenditures in the 2014 campaign. The pledge to which Gansler refers is similar to one signed by Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race.

Gansler’s proposal would discourage independent entities from spending money on television, radio or online advertising that names any of the candidates, or on direct mail that does that. If such spending occurred, the candidate who benefited would have to pay 50% of the cost to a charity chosen by the other contenders, John Wagner writes in the Post.

Transparency advocates praised Gansler’s call against so-called “dark money” and other independent expenditures, but it received a lukewarm response from the other Democrats contending to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O’Malley, report Erin Cox and Michael Dresser in the Sun.

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FLAWED PROPOSAL: Maryland, like the rest of this country, owes its military veterans a debt of gratitude, opines the editorial board for the Sun. But the latest proposal from Democratic candidate for governor Anthony Brown — to eliminate state taxes on military pensions — is not the right way to go. Picking certain individuals for an income-tax cut based on their career choice is a fundamentally flawed approach to the tax code.

MIZEUR PICKS COATES: John Wagner of the Post reports that a person close to the campaign says that Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Heather Mizeur plans to name Delman Coates, a Prince George’s County minister and outspoken proponent of same-sex marriage, as her running mate today.

Coatings, 40, adds racial and gender balance to Mizeur’s ticket but leaves the Baltimore area out of the picture, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. She is a 40-year-old white woman from Montgomery County who is serving her second term in the House of Delegates. He is an African-American man who has not held elected office.

ROCK HALL OPEN MEETINGS VIOLATION: The Rock Hall mayor, a council member and a citizen were all concerned about what they suspected were illegal meetings in April and July. And they were right, reports Craig O’Donnell of the Kent County News. On Nov. 6, the Open Meetings Compliance Board held Rock Hall’s town council at fault, ruling there were illegal actions and discussions on two dates. Reorganizing town government and deciding to introduce legislation are to be done in front of the public.

FREDERICK SHA PROJECTS: Beginning with a $400,000 Maryland State Highway Administration sidewalk retrofit project in Myersville, 2014 will be a busy year for construction projects in the west Frederick County municipality, reports Ike Wilson for the Frederick News Post.

WA CO SCHOOL SIDEWALKS: Washington County is receiving $496,000 in state grant funding that will be used to install new sidewalks in the area near Paramount Elementary School north of Hagerstown, CJ Lovelace reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

SCHOOL SECURITY AID: The Allegany County Board of Education announced plans during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday to ask the state to consider establishing a source of financial assistance to help pay for the increased security personnel that the board has placed in area schools, writes Greg Larry for the Cumberland Times News.

CITY HILTON: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Sarah Meehan of the Baltimore Business Journal talk about Baltimore City’s decision to keep the Hilton Baltimore and why leaders are cautiously optimistic about its prospects.