November 25, 2013

State Roundup, November 25, 2013

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GOP 2014 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: In the upcoming legislative session, Maryland House Republicans plan to push a 10% income tax cut, repeal of the so-called “rain tax” and the state’s withdrawal from the Common Core education initiative, reports John Wagner in the Post.

DWYER RESOLUTION: Erin Cox of the Sun is reporting that Maryland Republicans will consider what insiders are calling “the Don Dwyer Resolution” that encourages elected officials to resign if convicted of a crime that carries jail time. (The resolution failed by a wide margin, according to blog accounts.)

Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee said he will ask fellow Republicans to support the resolution. But, said John Fiastro, “This is not about any one particular member of the party.

OPENING PRIMARIES: The Maryland Republican Party took no action Saturday on the idea of opening its primaries to independent voters but left open the possibility of doing so after next year’s elections, John Wagner writes in the Post.

WILD & CRAZY SESSION: Dorchester legislators are predicting an interesting 2014 General Assembly session, reports Gail Dean for the Easton Star Democrat. “It will be a wild and crazy session,” Del. Addie Eckardt said during remarks last week at a Dorchester Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Cambridge Yacht Club with Del. Jeannie Haddaway and Sen. Richard Colburn.

SMALL BIZ & OBAMACARE: The chairman of one of Maryland’s largest health insurance brokerage firms predicted small businesses would begin to feel the real effects of Obamacare when they get their renewal notices Jan. 1, which will bring higher rates and fewer benefits, Glynis Kazanjian reports for MarylandReporter.com.

CELLPHONE USE: By explaining how the Frederick News Post photo staff came up with the illustration for a story on cellphone-while-driving use, which is now a primary offense, the editorial board also illustrates the great and continuing problem.

JOB LOSS: Maryland lost 8,900 jobs between September and October, partly due to the 16-day government shutdown, writes Ryan Sharrow of the Baltimore Business Journal. The U.S. Department of Labor released unemployment data on Friday for both September and October due to the delay caused by the shutdown.

Maryland’s Money Matters reports that Maryland’s unemployment rate was 6.7% for September and October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from 7% unemployment in August.

FRACKING: The head of the Maryland Petroleum Council says natural gas continues to make good economic and environmental sense. Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times News reports that the MPC chief says that if fracking occurs in Maryland, it would likely be near the Pennsylvania border, where infrastructure for moving the gas already exists, and it would likely not occur until 2017.

PREDICTIONS: Scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory have a new project in the works that aims to better predict the intensity of storm surges on the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Coast, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

DISTRICT 32: Democrat Tonja McCoy of Hanover on Thursday joined the increasingly crowded race for the House of Delegates from District 32, writes Rick Hutzell for the Capital-Gazette.

FRICK ON ATTY GEN: Del. Bill Frick, a candidate for Attorney General, joins Center Maryland to talk about his motivation to run for Attorney General and the unique opportunities the office provides.

***MarylandReporter.com editor Len Lazarick will be on a panel at the annual luncheon of the Maryland Government Relations Association next Tuesday, Dec. 3 along with Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland and Dan Furmansky of Maryland Juice to discuss “Electronic Media and Free State Politics.” Click for details.***

CORRECTION: Michael Dresser of the Sun corrects an article from last week in which he incorrectly characterized Del. Ron George’s criticism of Del. Heather Mizeur’s marijuana plan based on the reporter’s misunderstanding of the proposal.

HOGAN RUNS: Larry Hogan, chairman of the conservative activist group Change Maryland, says he’ll seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2014, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. In an interview Friday, Hogan said that while he will hold off a formal announcement until January, there’s no doubt he will join three other contenders in the June 24 GOP primary.

SKYBOX POLITICS: As he runs for governor, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has hosted politically influential guests in the state’s skybox at the Redskins’ stadium, records show. Brown’s guests during the 2012 and 2013 football seasons have included lobbyists Earl Adams Jr. and Major Riddick Jr. and the supervisor of a state trooper who issued a report criticizing the behavior of Attorney General Doug Gansler, a rival in the governor’s race, Luke Broadwater and Michael Dresser report in the Sun.

BATTLE OF THE PLEDGES: The Battle of the Pledges continued to rage in the 2014 campaign for the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor Friday as Attorney General Doug Gansler’s campaign called Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s proposed promise of a positive race a “political ploy,” reports Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Both pledges, writes John Wagner of the Post, were ostensibly well-meaning attempts to inject a measure of civility into the campaign. But instead, the pledges have had the opposite effect: They increased the hostility between the two leading candidates in what is becoming an increasingly bitter race.

INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDS: U.S. Rep. John Delaney writes, in an op-ed in the Carroll County Times, that he has introduced a bi-partisan bill in Congress to create an American Infrastructure Fund, a large-scale financing capability that could act like a bond insurer or bank for state and local governments to build transportation, energy, water, communication and educational infrastructure.

OT IN AA: Ben Weathers of the Capital-Gazette reports about overtime work and pay – $19.9 million of it in fiscal 2013 – in Anne Arundel County government. Most of it, of course, is used by the fire and police departments.

HOW DEMS LOST ANNAPOLIS: In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, the results of the Annapolis mayoral race left some stunned, wondering how a conservative, virtually unknown challenger outdid the incumbent Democrat. Elisha Sauers of the Capital-Gazette tries to suss out the reasons why.

BALTIMORE COUNTY HOUSING: Columnist Barry Rascovar of Political Maryland says Baltimore County has a long history of housing exclusion as its County Council did last week.

NOW THAT GOP WON ANNAPOLIS: Leaders in the Maryland Republican Party are promoting the recent win in the Annapolis mayoral race as evidence the GOP can secure victories in Democratic strongholds, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.