December 12, 2013

State Roundup, December 12, 2013

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REGIONAL BAY CLEANUP: The Sun’s Tim Wheeler is reporting that only a few of the leaders of the 30-year effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay are expected to show up in Washington today for an annual review of how it’s going. While Gov. Martin O’Malley will be there, his counterparts from Virginia and Pennsylvania will not. Nor will the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

CROSS-BORDER POLLUTION: Matthew Bieniek of the Cumberland Times News reports that Maryland wants the federal government to cut the flow of air pollution from upwind states into Maryland by enforcing standards already on the books. Maryland is being joined by other states in petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the issue.

REPLACING CITY JAIL: A state legislative commission endorsed a half-billion dollar plan on Wednesday to knock down the troubled Baltimore jail and rebuild it, lending new weight to a longstanding idea that languished for years as the Civil War-era facility continued to age, writes Ian Duncan in the Sun.

The antiquated Baltimore jail complex is where more than two dozen guards were accused of aiding a dangerous prison gang in a widespread corruption scandal this year, writes John Wagner for the Post.

EXCHANGE BRIEFING: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who recently returned from a trade mission to Brazil and El Salvador, plans to brief the media today regarding the status of the state’s online health insurance exchange, John Wagner reports in the Post.

LOCAL WAGE HIKE: James Briggs of the Baltimore Business Journal lays out some arguments for setting a higher local minimum wage as opposed to a national one.

Maryland’s Money Matters writes that Prince George’s and Montgomery counties recently moved in tandem (and with the District of Columbia) to increase incomes for hardworking residents by raising their minimum wage. State lawmakers should support these efforts by enacting a state-level minimum wage increase and authorizing the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to enforce higher county-level minimum wage laws.

OFFICIALS’ WAGE HIKE: Salary hikes for Maryland’s next governor, members of the General Assembly and other statewide officials elected next year are set to be decided next week by two compensation commissions specially appointed for this task, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

TAX SEASON DELAY: Jane Bellmyer of the Cecil Whig reports that, thanks to the 16-day federal shutdown in October, the start of the Maryland tax season will be delayed. “This means people who normally would be able to file on Jan. 17 will have to wait,” Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said Tuesday. “Those that traditionally file early will have to be patient this year.”

24 ENDORSED: The Montgomery County Education Association announced Friday that it is endorsing 24 Maryland General Assembly incumbents running for re-election from the county, Lindsay Powers reports in the Gazette.

37B CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS: Easton attorney Philip Cronan announced his withdrawal from the Maryland House of Delegates District 37B race for the 2014 general election, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat. “Recently, my father has suffered a worsening health condition that requires me to refocus my intentions for the coming year,” said Cronan, who was seeking election to replace Del. Jeannie Haddaway who is running for lieutenant governor.

Md CAN (Citizen Action network) ad

HOGAN FOR GOV: Red Maryland makes an early and emphatic endorsement for governor even though its choice hasn’t formally announced: Republican Larry Hogan is its pick.

MIZEUR ON MSNBC: Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur got some national exposure Wednesday for her gubernatorial campaign during a segment on MSNBC, writes John Wagner in the Post.

The MSNBC cable television network interviewed Mizeur after a segment on Uruguay’s move this week to legalize and regulate the distribution — not just the personal use — of marijuana, writes the Sun’s Michael Dresser.

APPRENTICESHIP PROPOSAL: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler is proposing a major expansion of apprenticeship programs in the state, with the aim of creating “a pipeline to middle-class jobs” open to students as young as 16 and in a broader array of fields than exists now, John Wagner reports in the Post.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTOSTUMBLING TOWARD ELECTION: Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland makes a quick assessment of the candidates in the Democratic primary for governor, and whether their stumbles will cost them the race.

BROWN’S FUTURE: Two opinionmakers give their views on Lt. Gov. Brown’s chances of overcoming the health care exchange fiasco.

  • In seven years in the shadows as Maryland’s lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown was given one high-profile task: Oversee the rollout of President Obama’s health-care plan in a heavily Democratic state sure to love it. He bungled the assignment. Badly. But, writes Robert McCartney for the Post, this is unlikely to affect his chances to win the governorship.
  • Fraser Smith of WYPR says that Brown says he came to work one day to discover a “mess.” A mess for medical insurance seekers, to be sure. A mess for Mr. Brown? Equally certain. He’s running for governor. His opponents say his performance proves he’s not ready. Of course they are. But of course, they’re right.

BROWN GETS AWARD: In case you missed a pre-Thanksgiving story in the Capital, the December issue of Governing magazine gave Brown one of its Public Officials of the Year awards — for his role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Martin O’Malley was on the cover of the national magazine for the same award in 2009.

LEASEBACK NOT PLANNED: The prospective buyer of two Frederick County-owned care centers say it is not planning to dispose of the properties in a sale-leaseback transaction, a financing tool it has used on several prior occasions, reports Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post.