April 28, 2014

State Roundup, April 28, 2014

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OUT OF STATE REIMBURSEMENTS: Alex Jackson of the Annapolis Capital reports that state lawmakers were reimbursed nearly $46,000 in 2013 for trips they took to conferences at more than a dozen destinations, including Miami, Los Angeles and Morocco. Twenty-six Democrats, including 15 delegates and 11 senators, as well as the chief of staff for House Speaker Michael Busch, claimed $43,781 in reimbursements for out-of-state travel expenses in 2013.

 

‘CARDS’ TO STAY IN MD: Jenna Johnson of the Post reports that the popular Netflix series “House of Cards” will film its third season in Maryland after all, officials announced on Friday, ending a months-long battle between the show’s producers and state leaders over millions of dollars in tax incentives.

PET SILENCING BAN: Pet owners may cherish their furry companions, but not their incessant bark or shrill meow. In some cases, owners actually seek to have their cat or dog’s vocal cords surgically removed, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for MarylandReporter.com. Gov. Martin O’Malley gave his signature to unsung legislation that outlaws this practice, one that the bill’s advocates said is inhumane and often frustrating for the animal.

POT QUANDRY: Maryland’s marijuana decriminalization measure, which passed earlier this month, is leading to questions by lawmakers and police about inconsistencies in the law, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. The Maryland General Assembly passed the measure, which removes criminal charges for possession of marijuana under 10 grams, in the closing days of the session.

RIDESHARE REGULATION: Sandra Henson, of Randallstown, became a Lyft driver in Baltimore City four weeks ago, and so far she loves it. But the freedom she loves with her new gig might be at risk, writes Lizzy McLellan for the Daily Record. Services like Lyft are under review by state regulators, who are deciding whether they should be overseeing the businesses and what regulations those companies should have to meet. One similar company, Uber Technologies Inc., could face an order that would require it to apply for a permit with the Maryland Public Service Commission.

REMEMBERING TORREY BROWN: Kelcie Pegher of the Annapolis Capital writes a remembrance of Dr. Torrey Brown, former Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. He excelled at many things, Pegher writes. But he is perhaps best remembered as the secretary of the state DNR who put a moratorium on the taking of rockfish in the 1980s — a move environmentalists credit with saving the fishery. Brown, 77, a Severna Park resident, died of heart disease at Anne Arundel Medical Center on April 20.

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BURNS ON BUNDY: According to an article in the Sun, state lawmaker Del. Emmett Burns, who is also pastor at Rising Sun Baptist Church, was expected to speak out at Sunday’s church service about what he calls “racist comments” by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. He was expected to warn that “America is on the verge of Civil War” because of comments by Bundy, the Nevada rancher famous for his dispute with the Bureau of Land Management.

HOUSE 31B: The Annapolis Capital’s Alex Jackson fact-checks a mailer sent out by Gus Kurtz, who is running as a “strong conservative Republican” for a nomination in the District 31B House of Delegates race. What’s the truth behind the voters cards on the mailer?

 

SENATE DISTRICT 30: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital welcomes candidates in contested primary races to write a column to explain why they are running for office and what would make them a good candidate. The first person up is Don Quinn, who is running for the District 30 Senate seat as a Republican.

 

CARDIN VS. FROSH ON ENVIRONMENT: Democratic attorney general candidate Jon Cardin apparently thought he had a winning argument Saturday when he boasted at he was the only candidate in the three-way primary race with a 97% pro-environment score over his 12-year legislative career from the League of Conservation Voters. Cardin opponent Sen. Brian Frosh conceded that Cardin is indeed the only candidate in the race with a 97% score. But Frosh pointed out that his lifetime score from the league is 99% over 28 years in the General Assembly, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

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DEM HOPEFULS IN HAGERSTOWN: With 59 days left until the June 24 primary election, political heavyweights, including all three Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls, spoke Saturday at the 10th annual Western Maryland Democratic Summit in Hagerstown, reports Holly Shok for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Democrats from Washington, Allegany, Garrett, Frederick and Carroll counties hosted the summit, attended by nearly 200 people, at the Hager Hall Conference and Event Center.

CANDIDATES ON TAXES: Sarah Tincher of the Capital News Service writes as part of a series of responses from the gubernatorial candidates competing in the June 24 primary. The topic of discussion in this piece, which runs in the Easton Star Democrat, is taxes.

GANSLER’S BACKERS: Gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler on Friday unveiled a list of 229 current and former Democratic elected officials who have endorsed his campaign, a move meant to show fresh momentum in a primary contest now less than two months away, reports John Wagner in the Post.

BROWN’S VULNERABILITY: Political pundit Barry Rascovar, writing in MarylandReporter.com, asks, then answers the question: Is Anthony Brown an empty suit? The answer to the headlined question is “no.” Brown didn’t graduate cum laude from Harvard and later from Harvard Law without having substantial intellectual chops. Yet that inelegant question – does Brown have what it takes to be governor? – could become a defining issue as Maryland’s aimless gubernatorial campaign enters the stage where voters start paying attention.

GANSLER POUNDS BROWN: Doug Gansler is pounding his chief rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, over the state’s deeply troubled online health exchange, convinced that the tactic will help him gain ground in the polls ahead of the all-important Democratic primary in June, John Wagner writes in the Post. Some say the strategy has a downside.

LOLLAR ON TOP: Charles County businessman Charles Lollar emerged as the top choice for Maryland governor in a splintered straw-poll vote taken Saturday by Republican Party activists. Lollar received the support of 68 delegates attending the spring convention of the Maryland Republican Party. He was followed by Anne Arundel County businessman Larry Hogan with 62 and Harford County Executive David Craig with 60. Del. Ron George (Anne Arundel) trailed with 29 votes.

1st DISTRICT DEMS: A forum for First District congressional candidates at Chesapeake College had a distinctively Democratic tone on Sunday as neither Republican candidate attended. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Harris said last week that he had a conflict and couldn’t make it to the forum, and the other Republican candidate, Jonathan Goff, also withdrew, reports Andrew Sharp for the Easton Star Democrat. That left Democratic candidates Bill Tilghman and John LaFerla as the only participants. Both candidates emphasized the need to end partisan gridlock in Congress.

A CHILL ON THE GOP: Former Ehrlich speechwriter Richard Cross writes, in an op-ed for the Sun, that by backing Del. Steve Schuh over incumbent Laura Neuman in the GOP primary for Anne Arundel County executive, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich cited Mr. Schuh’s attendance at national Republican conventions, his membership in a local Republican club, and his past volunteer activities as reasons to support him. It sends a chilling message: Only candidates who bear the imprimatur of the party elite are deemed sufficiently qualified to run for office. In other words, if you haven’t been part of our club before, there is nothing we can do for you now. And if you have, we may be willing to bend the rules to help you.

RUNNING ANNE ARUNDEL: November’s election isn’t just to see who runs Anne Arundel County’s government. It will pick someone who will have to both compete and cooperate with the neighbors. And those neighbors are the metropolitan areas of the state’s largest city — and of the nation’s capital, writes Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital. “These two major metropolitan areas (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.) are colliding into each other,” said John Willis, a professor of government at the University of Baltimore. “What’s in the middle? Anne Arundel.”

GOV. HASSAN TO SPEAK: New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan will be the main speaker at the Maryland Democratic Party’s annual gala May 21 in Upper Marlboro, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Friday, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.