April 17, 2014

State Roundup, April 17, 2014

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GUB CANDIDATES ON TAXES: With the Maryland gubernatorial election approaching, the seven major candidates are taking a stance on one of the state’s hot-button issues: taxes. CNS’s Sarah Tincher reports in the MarylandReporter.com that, in response to a Capital News Service questionnaire, the gubernatorial hopefuls expressed their thoughts on the state’s current estate tax and personal and corporate income tax policies, and proposed their tentative plans of action.

ON CANNING STATE PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE: The Sun editorial board opines that it is tempting to dismiss Attorney General Doug Gansler’s proposals to reduce state spending on the basis of his spectacularly bad idea of eliminating the state prosecutor’s office. Getting rid of the one semi-independent actor in Maryland’s political establishment with the power to investigate public corruption is exactly the wrong thing to do. However, the rest of the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s plan includes a number of thoughtful observations about Maryland’s $38 billion budget and some sensible approaches to making it more efficient.

GANSLER ON HEALTH CARE: Gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler is keeping the focus on health care in his latest television ad, writes John Wagner for the Post. In the 15-second spot, Gansler tells viewers that “health care is a right.” “As attorney general, I fought insurance companies when they denied coverage to families and children,” Gansler says. “And as governor, I’ll deliver health reform to the people of Maryland, no excuses.”

DISCLOSE FRACKING CHEMICALS: Who should have access to specific information on the toxicological, epidemiological and exposure-related information of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing? That question is currently being taken up by Maryland’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Committee. The editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes that it believes that any and all chemicals used in fracking should be available to the medical community and the general public as well. This remains a disputed drilling technology, and being informed about its chemical components is something the public should insist upon.

BAIL PROCEDURES REFORM: Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he may issue an executive order creating a pilot program for reforms to criminal bail procedures, according to an AP story in the Daily Record. It would be the next chapter in Maryland’s efforts to comply with a Court of Appeals ruling that defendants have a right to legal counsel at every bail hearing. Legislators failed to agree on a solution this past session.

FRANCHOT URGES OK FOR WIND PROJECT: Comptroller Peter Franchot urged Gov. Martin O’Malley on Wednesday to veto a bill that would halt a major wind energy project on the Eastern Shore, arguing that Somerset County desperately needs the jobs the project would generate, writes Erin Cox of the Sun.

FRANCHOT AS SHERLOCK: State Comptroller Peter Franchot has transformed from Maryland’s “Most Interesting Man” to the brilliant detective mind of “Sherlock Franchot,” for his annual campaign to find the owners of unclaimed property accounts, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

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SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE: Laslo Boyd, columnist for Center Maryland, reflects on the religious holidays of Passover (Jewish and Christian) and the separation of church and state enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, addressing the recent Carroll County Commissioners controversy, where a judge told the panel to stop praying aloud to Jesus.

SUPREME IGNORANCE: Opinionmaker Fraser Smith of WYPR-FM speaks with Del. Sandy Rosenberg about the recent Supreme Court ruling on aggreagate campaign contribution limits and the court’s seeming lack of understanding that money means votes.

O’MALLEY’S PRESIDENTIAL RUN: Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has said he is considering a run for president in 2016, will report raising just more than $104,000 in two federal political committees during the first three months of this year, reports John Fritze in the Sun. The number is a far cry from the $1.7 million the term-limited governor raised through the two committees last year, but aides say it reflects the fact that O’Malley did not solicit campaign cash during the state’s General Assembly session that ended last week.

SHOUTING MATCH: Tempers flared at Anne Arundel County’s GOP dinner when Del. Steve Schuh and one of County Executive Laura Neuman’s county employees and campaign volunteers got into a yelling match over an online posting. The county employee had worked on an exploratory committee leading up to Schuh’s campaign for Anne Arundel county executive but now volunteers on Neuman’s campaign, reports Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.

ARUNDEL POLITICAL NOTES: Here’s the Political Notes from the Annapolis Capital, which includes local endorsements and upcoming events in Anne Arundel County.

CECIL EXEC TAPPED FOR LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE: The National Association of Counties announced Wednesday that Cecil County Executive Tari Moore was selected to attend County Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., on June 1 through 5, writes Cheryl Mattix for the Cecil Whig.