December 6, 2013

State Roundup, December 6, 2013

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CHAMBER WARNS ON MINIMUM WAGE: Kathleen Snyder, president and chief executive officer of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, warned on Thursday that a rise in the state minimum wage could be devastating for small businesses in areas such as Washington County, and possibly lead to job losses and a contraction of business, Kaustuv Basu reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett signed the county’s law raising the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017, reports Ryan Marshall in the Gazette.

COMMON CORE CRITICS:  Baltimore County teachers at a town hall meeting Thursday night told Superintendent Dallas Dance they are desperately trying to keep up with the fast pace of state-mandated educational changes that have brought them more work and much frustration, reports Liz Bowie in the Sun. Teachers, some in tears and some angry, said the first year of the county’s introduction of its new curriculum tied to the Common Core had significant problems that have yet to be addressed.

DEL. HOUGH’S AGENDA: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes that Del. Michael Hough’s “Agenda to Fix Maryland” sounds grand — as well as a little “Contract With America”-ish — but the four pieces of legislation that form the agenda’s backbone are in large part solid and should generate an interesting discussion. But because the show in Annapolis is run by Democrats, the board is predicting that the General Assembly will ultimately reject Hough’s proposals.

CRONYISM: Mark Newgent of Red Maryland writes, in an opinion piece in the Sun, that cronyism and one-party rule in Maryland has led to projects getting through and lobbyists lining their pockets and targets KO Public Affairs, which is behind the Center Maryland website, to prove it.

POLITICAL NOTES: The Capital-Gazette is reporting that Del. Steve Schuh has announced a dozen bills he plans to propose, on everything from corporate income tax rates, stormwater fees and training officers to identify sex trafficking; Mitchelle Stephenson is joining the race for the House of Delegates from District 30B, and political events around Anne Arundel.

GANSLER ATTACKS BROWN: After spending the early months of his campaign on the defensive, gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler has pounced on an issue on which he believes his leading rival is vulnerable: the botched rollout of the state’s online health-insurance exchange, reports John Wagner in the Post. On Thursday, the Gansler campaign issued its latest attack on Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, accusing the fellow Democrat of dodging the news media and ducking responsibility for a task assigned to him by his boss, Gov. Martin O’Malley.

BROWN TAKES SOME RESPONSIBILITY: Amid continued criticism, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown took some responsibility Tuesday for the dismal performance of Maryland’s online health insurance exchange, report Scott Dance and Michael Dresser of the Sun. “Everyone that was involved in starting up the exchange is responsible and that includes me,” Brown said, pledging to make himself available to the news media for regular updates on progress implementing federal health reform in the state.

But on Wednesday, Brown rebuffed attempts by WBAL TV’s Jayne Miller to get an answer, writes, Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. “Right now is not the time to point fingers,” Brown told Miller. “Right now is the time to fix the problem.” He called Miller’s attempt to get an answer “a drive through interview.”

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MIZEUR ENDORSED: Del. Heather Mizeur has picked up an endorsement of her 2014 bid for governor from a police group representing 1,200 Montgomery County officers, writes John Wagner for the Post.

LOLLAR HQ: Charles Lollar, a Republican candidate for governor, will open his campaign headquarters in Annapolis on Saturday. The move adds to a growing role in the June Republican primary for Anne Arundel County, the Capital Gazette is reporting.

CONWAY CHALLENGE: Delmar Mayor Carl Anderton plans to challenge Del. Norm Conway, who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, in the upcoming election, Jennifer Shutt reports in the Salisbury Daily Times. Anderton, who also serves as president for the Maryland Municipal League, filed with the Board of Elections this week to seek the District 38B seat.

BEREANO FINED: High-profile Maryland lobbyist Bruce Bereano was fined $10,000 in October for a lead paint violation in two Annapolis rowhouses he owns, the state Department of the Environment announced Thursday. Bereano, who has lobbied state lawmakers for special-interest groups over the past three decades, negotiated an initial $20,000 penalty down to $10,000 in a settlement, reports Colin Campbell in the Sun.

MIKULSKI TALKS JOBS: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski this week embarked on a three-stop Eastern Shore jobs tour to meet with local business owners and community leaders to discuss jobs in the Lower Shore, according to a story in the Easton Star Democrat.

HARRIS ON OBAMACARE: U.S. Rep. Andy Harris on Thursday proposed increasing the share states would pay to expand Medicaid under Obamacare as a way to roll back deep federal budget cuts known as sequestration — an idea that met with quick opposition from supporters of the health care law, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

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PHASE 1 APPROVAL: State and federal regulators gave final approval of Phase 1 of Harbor Point – the construction of the Exelon Tower, Central Plaza Garage and related infrastructure, reports Mark Reutter for Baltimore Brew. The approval allows developer Michael Beatty to begin preparatory construction activities on the 27-acre site. But Beatty must still submit an air monitoring plan to the Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of the Environment before a 5-foot-thick protective cap can be breached.

TO COURT: Frederick County leaders will go to court for help dividing public property so they can sell two government-owned care centers, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

ALDERMAN, NEW MAYOR MAKE NICE: Jack Lambert of the Capital-Gazette writes that, in a reversal from last month, Annapolis Alderman Ross Arnett will not introduce legislation for a city manager style government. Arnett and new Mayor Mike Pantelides pledged to work together on city budgetary issues, while also helping Annapolis seek more state funding in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTOBODINE’S ART: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com opens the pages of the latest compilation of photography by the late Aubrey Bodine, turning back the clock to look at hard work, photography and art.

BONGINO FUNDRAISER: Dan Bongino, Republican candidate in the 6th Congressional District, raised money at a Potomac home this week, Ryan Marshall writes in the Gazette.

BARKLEY RUNNING: Jenn Davis in the Gazette reports on Del. Charles Barkley’s run for a fifth term in the House of Delegates.

NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook is all politics this week with items on O’Malley’s trip to Brazil; fake tweets about Del. Luiz Simmons; a police union endorsing Del. Heather Mizeur for governor and her plan to accept public funding for the race.

PG COUNCIL CHAIR: By unanimous vote, the Prince George’s County Council elected Councilman Mel Franklin to serve as its chairman for the 2014 legislative year, reports Jamie Afenson-Comeau in the Gazette.

MoCo SHERIFF: Darren Popkin plans to run for Montgomery County sheriff again, writes St. John Barned-Smith in the Gazette.