December 23, 2013

State Roundup, December 23, 2013

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CHANGES PROPOSED FOR STORMWATER LAW: Alex Jackson of the Capital-Gazette reports that at least five proposals to change a state mandate on stormwater fees are expected to be up for debate when the General Assembly convenes next month. One proposal would repeal the mandate entirely; another would delay it two years. A third would reduce the burden on residents by providing tax credits for environmentally friendly home improvements.

UNEVEN JOB GROWTH:

MGM WINS PG CASINO LICENSE: A state commission voted 5-2 in favor of MGM Resorts International’s bid Friday to build a $925 million casino resort near the Potomac River at National Harbor with a 300-suite hotel and seven restaurants. The casino plan includes 3,600 slot machines and 140 table games like blackjack and roulette, according to an AP story in the Washington Times.

Now that MGM won the state license to build a casino in Prince George’s County, officials say they have no doubt it will become a world-class destination — and a revenue-generating powerhouse for the state, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun. “I believe this will be the most successful commercial resort outside of Las Vegas,” said Jim Murren, MGM’s chairman and CEO.

Daniel Sernovitz interviews Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker about the MGM decision for the Baltimore Business Journal.

POACHED OYSTERS: The weeks before Christmas tend to be the most active for oyster poachers, but the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and State Police hope new technology and harsher penalties will help crack down on illegal oyster harvesting in the Chesapeake Bay, reports CNS’s Sarah Polus for the Salisbury Daily Times.

RAISING POLS’ PAY: Alison Knezevich and Erin Cox of the Sun report that state lawmakers and some local politicians are considering raising their own salaries in 2014 — proposals that supporters say might have more traction now that Maryland is a few years out of the recession.

There’s more detail in MarylandReporter.com’s last week about the General Assembly Compensation Commission and the Governor’s Salary Commission.

Md CAN (Citizen Action network) ad

PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE: State senators and delegates from Frederick County hear from citizens who are concerned about prescription drug abuse and the physicians who prescribe the drugs, reports Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post.

TWITTER DISCLOSURE: John Wagner of the Post reports that, in this age of social media, a growing number of Maryland lawmakers have taken to Twitter to communicate with constituents and court voters for their next election. But only about half of those with accounts are following a state regulation that requires candidates to include information about their campaigns on their profiles.

BEREANO REDEEMING: Tom Marquardt, in a special report for the Capital-Gazette, profiles uber-lobbyist Bruce Bereano, his rise to the top, his fall from grace and his moves to redeem himself.

ENVIRONMENTAL SUPPORT FOR FROSH: Democratic attorney general hopeful Brian Frosh on Friday picked up the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters, which praised the Montgomery County senator as a “long-time environmental champion,” reports John Wagner for the Post.

The environmental group’s endorsement is prized among Democrats and carries weight on an issue most primary voters consider a mainstream value, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

YOU MIGHT BE A DEMOCRAT: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, in a commentary for the Sun, offers up a little test that will show what party you belong to.

BROWN ENDORSED: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has picked up the endorsement of a statewide organization of Maryland troopers in his bid to become the state’s next governor, reports John Wagner in the Post. The Maryland State Police Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69, which stayed on the sidelines during the last several races for governor, announced its support Friday for Brown and his running mate.

2014 Calendar AD PHOTOBROWN NO POINT MAN: Is Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown point man on Maryland’s health care exhange? Not exactly says opinion-maker Barry Rascovar for MarylandReporter.com.

HEALTH EXCHANGE CONSEQUENCES: In a commentary for MarylandReporter.com, Del. Neil Parrott writes that while the failure of the Obamacare implementation is disturbing, more troubling is that people who had good health insurance just two months ago have had it taken from them.

GANSLER RECUSES ON FUND-RAISING ISSUE: Normally, an assistant attorney general reviews campaign finance guidance before the Maryland State Board of Elections issues it. But what happens when that guidance could have a significant impact on the Maryland attorney general’s political fortunes, asks Erin Cox in the Sun. Such was the case last week when the elections panel issued a ruling that meant attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler’s political rivals could raise money during the approaching legislative session — a time when Gansler cannot.

ROUNDABOUT YES: State Highway Administration officials told Cecil County Council Tuesday they are ready to proceed on three of six proposed roundabouts that drew public scrutiny last month, reports Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig.

LINING UP FOR ERVIN’S SEAT: Barely a week after Montgomery County Councilmember Valerie Ervin announced she would resign in early January, a line is forming to fill her District 5 seat – with at least a half-dozen names planning to apply. More are expected before the Jan. 8 application deadline set in a statement this week from County Council President Craig Rice, reports Louis Peck for Bethesda Magazine.

ULMAN HOPEFUL ON BUDGET: Amanda Yeager of the Howard County Times reports that after the first of his public hearings on Howard County’s fiscal year 2015 budget, County Executive Ken Ulman sounded a hopeful note. “Budgetwise, I think we’re beginning to emerge out of the depths of the great recession,” he told the crowd of more than 50 people who showed up to testify or observe last week.