November 26, 2013

State Roundup, November 26, 2013

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SKEWED SCORES: When Maryland officials recently trumpeted the performance of their students on national reading tests, they failed to mention one thing: The state blocked more than half its English language learners and students with learning disabilities from taking the test, students whose scores would have dragged down the result, writes Lyndsey Layton for the Post.

PAY THE TOLL: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks offers a teachable moment through one man’s fight with the Maryland Transportation Authority over the $13,000 in fees he wracked up for not paying $720 in tolls and late fees.

MOTOR VOTER: Drivers could be automatically registered to vote when they apply for their license, according to a proposal under consideration by a voting rights task force in Montgomery County, writes Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com. Federal law requires Motor Vehicle Administration employees to ask customers if they would like to register to vote or update their voter registration information during their driver’s license or photo identification card applications

TAX CUTS: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that Republicans in Annapolis are drafting a plan to cut personal income taxes. The politicians would like to phase-in a 10% cut in the personal income tax over the next two years. House Republicans say they also plan to introduce a bill to abolish the so-called “rain tax.”

BAY CLEANUP: The Clean Chesapeake Coalition says that new state efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay would have an enormous negative impact on rural Maryland counties’ economy and way of life, while not even addressing the root of the Bay’s pollution problem, reports Abby Andrews for the Easton Star Democrat.

RAIN TAX: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts a program on the rain tax, the first installment of a new series Countdown to the Annapolis Summit, which will be held on Jan. 8th, the opening day of the General Assembly. Del. Maggie MacIntosh and Harford Exec David Craig, who is running for governor, are Steiner’s guests.

O’MALLEY’S SKYBOX: Gov. Martin O’Malley has surrounded himself with top Democrats in his skybox at Ravens stadium over the past year. But the governor also has displayed a penchant for entertaining television stars — mixing business interests, politicians and celebrities while eating at taxpayer expense. For instance, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun, “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey was among those at the Sept. 23 game against New England Patriots

FUND-RAISING ISSUES: Jennifer Shutt of the Salisbury Daily Times writes about the complicated fund-raising picture for most gubernatorial candidates this year: The law prevents those candidates who hold statewide office from fundraising, so they don’t. But what happens when the lieutenant governor is running for governor on a ticket with a county executive who can raise money? Or a delegate, barred from raising money during the 90-day session, is running for governor with a pastor as ticket mate?

EYEGLASSES FOR STUDENTS: Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler on Monday debuted the first in a series of Web videos on issues he is pushing in his campaign, this one on a new proposal to help disadvantaged students get eyeglasses, writes John Wagner in the Post. The video tops the story.

Campaign On leaderboard 11-1-2013

BROWN LAUDED FOR ACA WORK: In the December issue of Governing magazine, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is honored for one reason political rivals have criticized him – the Affordable Care Act, reports Alex Jackson in the Capital-Gazette. Governing notes Brown’s leadership in expanding healthcare in Maryland and his work to “curb domestic violence, improve services for veterans and boost access to higher education.”

HOGAN’S IN: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes about a weekend filled with events including the hijacking, by Annapolis businessman Larry Hogan, of the first night of the Maryland Republican Party twice-a-year convention. Hogan announced he was going to announce a run for governor in January.

Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that as crazy as it sounds, the Republicans, with Hogan in the field, may now have a more interesting gubernatorial primary than the Democrats. And if his three GOP opponents are in any way chagrined by the splash Hogan is making with his late entry, they aren’t letting on.

RED COUNTY: Whatever it might say about Maryland’s Republican Party, the fact that two of the announced GOP gubernatorial candidates are from Anne Arundel tells us a lot about the county, writes the editorial board for the Capital-Gazette. This remains a Republican stronghold, a jurisdiction any GOP candidate with statewide aspirations must carry big.

WALKING DEAD:Former speechwriter Richard Cross, in a column for the Frederick News Post, lists his “walking dead,” those politicians who should have packed it in a while ago put keep turning up. The list includes his former boss, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, as well as Del. Don Dwyer and “the “Flip Flop” Boys:” Dels. Sam Arora and Wade Kach, who both took positions on marriage equality, then voted the opposite way.

TURKEY TROT: Robert McCartney of the Post also has a list, his fourth annual Turkeys of the Year, those people in the news who do and say silly things. Maryland gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler tops the list, but he’s not McCartney’s No. 1 draft pick.

MO CO MINIMUM WAGE: The Montgomery County Council appears poised to pass some form of legislation today raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, reports Bill Turque in the Post. But as of Monday evening, the particulars of the final bill remained in flux. A flurry of new proposals and amendments continued to circulate among council members.

JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS

FREDERICK: Frederick County will soon have two more judges sitting in its courtrooms with Gov. Martin O’Malley naming two Frederick attorneys to the bench Monday, writes Danielle Gaines for the Frederick News Post.

CARROLL: Longtime Carroll County lawyer Fred Scott Hecker was appointed Monday to the Carroll County Circuit Court bench, writes Brett Lake for the Carroll County Times.

CECIL: Brenda Sexton has been functioning much like a judge since January 2012, when she started as Cecil County domestic relations master. Now Sexton is a judge — the fourth Cecil County Circuit Court judge, to be exact, and the third woman to make it to any judicial bench in county history, Carl Hamilton reports in the Cecil Whig.

***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.***