November 22, 2013

State Roundup, November 22, 2013

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COMMON CORE PROBLEMS: A panel of state lawmakers grilled Maryland’s top school officials Thursday over whether education reforms are being executed too quickly and putting undue stress on teachers, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

“Rocky.” That’s how the head of Anne Arundel County schools describes implementation of the controversial Common Core State Standards, reports Allison Borg in the Capital-Gazette. But interim schools Superintendent Mamie Perkins said the standards — which set educational benchmarks for students every year — are needed. Students will be handling more rigorous assignments that put them on an level playing field with their peers in other countries, she said.

BWI IMPROVEMENTS: The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $5.5 million contract this week for runway improvements at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, Alex Jackson reports for the Capital-Gazette.

FRACKING FIGHT: The continuing drama of organized labor’s conflict with the environmental movement, especially notable in the controversy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline project, is readying for another round as a coalition of green groups launches a campaign to stop the proposed construction of a Maryland natural gas export terminal linked to increased fracking in the region, Bruce Vail writes for In These Times.

RED & PURPLE LINES: Despite fiscal uncertainties on Capitol Hill, Maryland transit officials remain confident that the federal share of funding for both of the state’s top-priority light rail projects – the Purple Line and the Red Line – will be included in congressional transportation funding, the projects’ top planner told Greater Baltimore Committee members this week. GBC’s Don Fry writes about these and other state projects for Center Maryland.

THE KENNEDY YEARS: On this 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s assassination, Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com looks back on the Kennedy years, his legacy and Lazarick’s generation’s fondness for this very “flawed man.”

DISTRICT 16 SENATE RACE: Lou Peck of Bethesda magazine offers an interesting analysis of what’s going on with the District 16 Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Brian Frosh as he runs for attorney general. Del. Susan Lee is the only candidate thus far.

HEALTH CARE HEADACHE: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and John Wagner of the Washington Post talk about how the troubles with Maryland’s health insurance marketplace has given gubernatorial rivals to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown some ammunition.

NO NEGATIVE AD PROPOSAL: John Wagner of the Post reports that, more than a week after Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler asked his Democratic rivals to join him in a pledge to curb outside spending on the race, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has put forward a counter offer. “We’re raising the bar with our ‘Positive Campaign Pledge,’” Brown said Friday.

FOLLOWS NEGATIVE AD: This was after Gansler released a Web ad on Thursday knocking Brown, for the state’s rocky roll-out of the President Obama’s new health-care law, John Wagner reports. The web ad tops the story.

Although the Gansler camp began aggressively hitting Brown with accusations of poor leadership earlier this week, Thursday’s video marks the first attack piece published in the contest for governor, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

POT ‘N’ TOTS: Marylanders would have to smoke a lot of pot to pay for full implementation of a preschool education plan proposed by Del. Heather Mizeur, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

Del. Ron George became the first gubernatorial candidate to unleash an attack on fellow hopeful Heather Mizeur’s proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana Thursday — though his aim seemed off the mark. George, a Republican from Anne Arundel County, released a statement in which he denounced the plan but gave a mistaken description of one of its key provisions, reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM interviews Mizeur on her plan to legalize and regulate marijuana.

In Cecil County, political and law enforcement leaders were not very supportive of Mizeur’s proposal, writes Jacob Owens in the Cecil Whig.

MUSINGS ON MIZEUR: Heather Mizeur says she’s running for governor, but her campaign looks more like a cultural movement testing liberalism’s outer limits, writes Gazette columnist Blair Lee, examining her campaign proposals so far.

CRAIG SEEKS GOP SUPPORT: Gubernatorial candidate David Craig was off to Arizona Thursday to meet with Republican governors in an effort to win their backing for his effort to win back deep blue Maryland for the GOP in 2014, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

GANSLER’S BLURRED LINES: When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler’s campaign sent out a notice of an event on Thursday, something looked wrong: The anti-bullying forum was scheduled at a Prince George’s County public school during class hours — something that normally isn’t allowed for a political function.

GOV. HOGAN? Maryland Republican Larry Hogan of Change Maryland is scheduled to announce whether he’ll be running for governor. Hogan, who served in former Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s administration, has scheduled an event Friday evening in Annapolis, Maria Cheng of the AP reports at WTOP-AM.

FREDERICK EXEC INCOME: State Sen. David Brinkley said he plans to ask for legal guidance on whether someone who owns a business, collects retirement benefits or earns other private income could serve as Frederick County executive when the executive form of government is instituted next year, reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

NICE BRIDGE: The AP reports in the Capital-Gazette that the Maryland Transportation Authority board has approved spending $50 million on preliminary work toward replacing the 72-year-old Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge that carries U.S. 301 across the Potomac River from Charles County to King George County, Va. The bridge itself is expected to cost $1 billion, and no funding has been set aside for construction.

FOREHAND SEAT: Here’s the Gazette’s take on the District 17 race for Sen. Jennie Forehand’s seat. With Forehand still undecided, former Del. Cheryl Kagan and Del. Luiz Simmons are now in the race, writes Ryan Marshall.