February 17, 2014

State Roundup, February 17, 2014

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ULMAN WON’T FUND-RAISE: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown said Saturday that his campaign would forgo the use of a loophole that might have allowed his running mate to raise money during the General Assembly session — portraying the decision as a matter of principle, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

THIS WEEK: John Wagner and Frederick Kunkle of the Post foretell five things to look out for in Annapolis as the week kicks off, including legislation to make paid sick leave mandatory and upping the legal age to buy cigarettes. Also, will two Republican hopefuls for governor finally announce their running mates?

UNDECIDED ON ATTY GEN: Two-thirds of Maryland Democrats are undecided in a wide-open race to succeed Doug Gansler as state attorney general, Michael Dresser writes concerning a new poll for The Baltimore Sun. Among Democrats who expressed a preference, Del. Jon Cardin of Baltimore County was ahead with 18% support. The other three candidates — state Sen. Brian Frosh and Del. William Frick, both of Montgomery County, and Del. Aisha Braveboy of Prince George’s County — polled in single digits. All four names are unfamiliar to many voters — even those who follow politics closely.

UNDECIDED ON GOVERNOR: Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown has staked out a sizable lead in the Democratic contest for governor, but the primary race is far from decided as many voters have yet to pick a candidate, according to a new opinion poll for The Baltimore Sun.

Democrats vying to be governor found reasons for optimism Sunday after a Baltimore Sun poll showed that 40% of primary voters had not settled on a candidate. With four months until the June 24 primary election, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown celebrated that he was the early front-runner. Attorney General Doug Gansler declared the race “wide open,” and Del. Heather Mizeur pointed to her campaign’s progress since the fall, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

WILDLANDS PROTECTION: The Maryland Senate unanimously approved Friday a major expansion of the state’s network of legally protected wildlands, Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun.

HEALTH FIASCO ACCOUNTABILITY: Accountability is sorely lacking when it comes to Maryland’s botched rollout of Obamacare, opines opinionator Barry Rascovar in MarylandReporter.com. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown  is nowhere to be found when tough questions are asked. Gov. Martin O’Malley deflects “who’s at fault” inquiries, focusing instead on getting the deeply flawed software partly operable.

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IMMIGRANTS IN JAIL: An undocumented immigrant arrested in Prince George’s County will spend 48 extra hours in jail at the request of immigration agents — regardless of the charge or the person’s past criminal record, reports John Fritze for the Sun. But the standard is different just across the line in Washington, D.C., where the city detains immigrants for extra time only if they have been involved in serious crimes.

TALKING CHICKEN TAX: Saying that it knows the chicken manure problem is a serious one for Maryland’s environment but that it isn’t sure whether the proposed 5-cents-per-chicken tax is good or bad for Maryland’s poultry industry, farmers, workers and the economy, the editorial board for the Sun adds that the discussion on the issue is necessary.

MARIJUANA IN MARYLAND: Alex Jackson of the Annapolis Capital explains where legislation governing marijuana, its use, abuse and decriminalization stand in Annapolis this year. The General Assembly is considering legalizing or decriminalizing pot, following in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington state. Bills introduced this year to loosen the state’s marijuana laws include two that would decriminalize the drug by making possession of small amounts a civil offense and reducing the penalty to a fine. One bill would put Maryland on a path to regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol.

MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: Todd Eberly writes that a review of the history of the wage suggests that it should be raised to approximately $8.40 an hour and then indexed to inflation thereafter. But the proposal to make Maryland’s minimum $10.10 by 2016 simply goes too far and would likely have significant negative effects on youth and unskilled employment levels.

MIDDAY: Dan Rodricks’ week in review on WYPR includes stories on the minimum wage, deportation of illegal immigrants, and MarylandReporter.com’s Glynis Kazanjian on political fundraising and student testing at about minute 9:30 on the podcast.

ARUNDEL SCHOOL FUNDING: If the budget is approved by the General Assembly, Anne Arundel will receive $473.2 million from the state. That will make it 21st in per capita state aid, getting $860 a head. Few, if any, of the county’s House Republicans are pleased about that. They were particularly unhappy about how much Anne Arundel would get for schools. Among 24 jurisdictions, Anne Arundel would rank 22nd in per pupil aid, receiving $5,219 per pupil, reports Alex Jackson for the Annapolis Capital.

COLBURN DIVORCE RECORD: State Sen. Richard Colburn and Alma Colburn have reached a divorce agreement. The now confidential court records will be unsealed on March 1, after Alma Colburn’s attorney requested that the documents be unsealed, writing that there is a “necessity for elected officials to be treated as equals before the eyes of the law,” reports Jennifer Shutt for the Salisbury Daily Times.

OBAMA IN PRINCE GEORGE’S: President Barack Obama will travel to Prince George’s County on Tuesday to deliver remarks on the economy, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

CAVEY STEPS AWAY FROM RACE: The man expected to be the Republican candidate in what is likely to be one of the top Senate races for his party said Sunday he will withdraw from the race and focus on his work with Larry Hogan’s gubernatorial campaign, blogs Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Chris Cavey, a former insurance broker and chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, referred to the campaign Sunday as “my former race” in a phone interview.

PITCHING LEGISLATION, CANDIDACY: Politicians jockeying for attention are hardly unusual at the Maryland General Assembly. But in this busy election year the one-upmanship has turned the legislative session into a campaign battleground, with candidates making many of the same pitches in hearing rooms that they do out on the trail, writes John Wagner of the Post.

CLINTON OVER O’MALLEY: Gov. Martin O’Malley may have his eye on running for the White House, but a new Baltimore Sun poll suggests he could have a tough time winning the Democratic primary election in his own state. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outpolled O’Malley by nearly 10 to 1 among likely Maryland Democratic voters.

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DEBATE SCHEDULING: There is no debate schedule just yet in Maryland’s Democratic primary for governor, but the three major candidates on Friday jointly announced a commitment to come up with one by March 1, the Post’s John Wagner writes.

CAMPAIGN OFFICES OPENED: Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler both opened campaign offices in their respective home counties Sunday, seeking to build enthusiasm among some of their core supporters, John Wagner reports in the Post.

RAND PAUL IN MARYLAND: An organization aiming to “build the statewide liberty movement” in Maryland will host Sen. Rand Paul — a Kentucky Republican often touted as a potential presidential candidate — for a fundraiser next month, John Fritze reports in the Sun.

HOUSE OF CARDS: Annapolis is going all Hollywood this week. In this spoiler alert, writes John Wagner for the Post, the Maryland State House makes its debut in the new season of “House of Cards” in the third episode around the 35-minute mark. Shortly after that, sharp-eyed viewers can also catch a glimpse of Cynthia Busch, the wife of the Maryland House speaker.