December 20, 2013

State Roundup, December 20, 2013

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BROWN, CRAIG CAN RAISE BUCKS: The Maryland State Board of Elections ruled Thursday that the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Brown can continue raising money during the coming legislative session even though Brown himself is prohibited by law from doing so, reports the Post’s John Wagner. The decision was immediately criticized by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, another Democratic candidate for governor, who said he expects that a court will decide the elections board misinterpreted a law that is “crystal clear.”

A four-page memo on campaign fundraising during the 2014 General Assembly session will mostly likely hurt Doug Gansler more than any other declared gubernatorial candidate, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

Erin Cox reports that following the elections board ruling that cleared the way for the campaigns of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Harford County Executive David Craig to raise money during the 90-day General Assembly session, a government watchdog group called on the two gubernatorial campaigns to voluntarily forgo fundraising during that time to comply with the spirit of Maryland ethics laws. Both campaigns promptly declined.

GANSLER ON ROLLOUT: Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler on Thursday compared the state’s troubled rollout of its online health insurance exchange to “a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit,” writes John Wagner for the Post. “It’s comical that it’s not working,” Gansler told reporters. “ It’s tragic for folks who don’t have access to health care.”

20% RAISE FOR GOV? Maryland’s next governor would get a 20% pay raise to $180,000 a year under recommendations made Tuesday night by the Governor’s Salary Commission, reports Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com Four other statewide officials — the lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, state treasurer and secretary of state — would also get a 20% pay hike over the four years of their terms from 2015 to 2018.

PHONY TRAINING WAGE: The editorial board for the Sun addresses Del. Pat McDonough’s proposed “training wage,” saying that creating a phony-baloney training wage is merely a transparent effort to make any boost in the minimum wage at the state level meaningless.

REDUCE ARREST WARRANTS: Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore wants to reduce the number of active arrest warrants in the county through legislation that would prohibit those charged in warrants from collecting state-income tax refunds, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Anne Arundel County passed a similar law in 2012, and the results so far have been impressive, Mullendore said.

DWYER’S RIGHT MOVE: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post sees nothing humorous about Del. Don Dwyer serving time in jail at the same time he is attending the 90-day General Assembly session and finds the lack of will of the legislators – and Dwyer – to do the right thing disconcerting.

DISTRICT 37B: Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star-Democrat reports that the field for the District 37B House of Delegates 2014 general election race got a little more crowded this week. Dorchester Economic Development director Keasha Haythe and southern Eastern Shore cardiologist Rene Desmarais are both seeking the seat held by Del. Jeannie Haddaway, who is running for lieutenant governor.

Md CAN (Citizen Action network) ad

START CLASS LATER: The push to get county high school start times back to at least 8 a.m., a long-running issue, appears to be picking up speed in Anne Arundel County, where last month dozens of parents, students and community advocates told the county Board of Education that 7:17 a.m. is too early for high school students to begin their day, reports Allison Bourg for the Capital-Gazette.

STUDENT POLLUTION PROTEST: Dr. Gwen DuBois writes in an op-ed for the Sun that students at Benjamin Franklin High School have organized against Energy Answers’ waste-to-energy incinerator planned for a location within one mile of three schools in Curtis Bay. Not only should it not be built so close to their school, it should not be built at all. Calling it a trash-burning “power plant” doesn’t make it safe or change the fact that it would incinerate industrial waste including old tires, plastics and construction materials — up to 1.4 million tons a year.

Here’s the story about the student protest from Fern Shen of Baltimore Brew. Students rallying against a trash incinerator planned in their South Baltimore neighborhood said researching and organizing was important. But talking to fellow residents made it plain to them how sick their neighborhood really was from pollution-linked disease.

CITY HIRES WILLIS: Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun that the Baltimore City Council will be hiring a former top state official to act as an independent lawyer while it considers the mayor’s proposed wide-spread zoning changes. John Willis, who was secretary of state for eight years under Gov. Parris Glendening, will advise the council on the 350 pages of proposed changes. He will be paid $60-an-hour, for a total of $54,000, over the one-year contract.

VEHICLE SNOW: Snow can be a pretty sight in many places, but the roof or hood of a vehicle is not one of them — especially if the driver ahead of you is sending icy projectiles your way, Kevin James Shay writes in the Gazette. While states such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey have laws requiring drivers to remove snow and ice from their vehicles’ hoods and roofs as well as windshields, Maryland only requires that vehicles be clear of snow from windshields and lights.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTONOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s Reporters Notebook has items on the sale of the AFL-CIO’s Labor College campus in Silver Spring; a report on MarylandReporter.com’s very own State House Birthday Calendar (Hat tip to editor Andy Schotz, as Mike Allen’s Playbook might say); and there is an almost article-length item about Del. Luiz Simmons and his beef with Center Maryland columnist Josh Kurtz about a column highly critical of Simmons. The delegate believes the column was influenced by Kurtz’s bias toward former Del. Cheryl Kagan, who is opposing Simmons in the District 17 Senate race.