May 14, 2014

State Roundup, May 14, 2014

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WIND-DELAY BILL: Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the bill that would delay a wind farm project in Somerset County could end up on the list of legislation to be signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thursday morning, but county officials — who hope he vetoes the legislation — said they are in the dark as to which way he is leaning. “We haven’t heard one thing,” Somerset County Administrator Doug Taylor said.

‘BATHROOM QUESTION:’ Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the success of a challenge to a transgender anti-discrimination law in Maryland may hinge on the so-called “bathroom question,” according to a new poll released by Rasmussen Reports. “Americans generally favor laws like those recently passed in California and Maryland that ban discrimination against men and women who claim to be the opposite sex, but opposition increases dramatically when they are told these laws may allow biological men to freely use women’s public bathrooms and vice versa,” according to the poll published Tuesday.

KIRWAN TO STEP DOWN: There’s little that William “Brit” Kirwan didn’t do during his 12-year run as chancellor of the University System of Maryland, writes Alissa Gulin for the Daily Record. But his successor might have to do even more. Kirwan, 76, announced Tuesday he will step down from USM’s top job as soon as the Board of Regents selects his replacement, capping off a career in higher education that spanned five decades.

STATE WORKER SALARIES: The number of state employees making over $100,000 jumped dramatically to 6,847 in 2013 due to an across-the-board 2% cost-of-living raise, MarylandReporter.com’s fourth annual analysis of state salaries found. Numerically, this represented a 1,184 increase from 2012, a 20% rise in the number of state and university employees making six figures, reports Margaret Sessa-Hawkins in MarylandReporter.com.

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MOONEY WINS WV PRIMARY: Former Maryland GOP chairman and state senator Alex Mooney emerged from a crowded Republican primary Tuesday night and will face Democrat Nick Casey in November’s general election for the right to represent West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District in Congress. David Gutman reports in the Charleston Gazette.

MCINTOSH IN HAGERSTOWN: Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Democratic from Baltimore City, talked to Hagerstown leaders Tuesday about ways to reinvigorate the city and make it a more attractive place to live, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. McIntosh, who is chairwoman of the Environmental Matters Committee in the House of Delegates, was visiting at the invitation of the Washington County delegation.

BRAVEBOY ON BEING AG: Del. Aisha Braveboy, a Democratic candidate for Maryland attorney general, says that sometimes the state’s top lawyer has to say no, writes Steve Lash in a profile of the candidate for the Daily Record. For example, Braveboy said, if she were attorney general she would have demanded the state settle a long-running desegregation lawsuit by its historically black colleges and universities over duplicate academic programs at predominantly white colleges. And if no settlement could be reached, Braveboy said, the state would have had to find outside counsel, because she could not defend the violation of constitutional rights.

MIZEUR ON ELECTRIC BILLS: Gubernatorial hopeful Del. Heather Mizeur has made lowering electricity bills one of her goals if elected governor, reports Erin Cox for the Sun. In a policy paper released Tuesday, Mizeur called for greater oversight of Maryland utility companies and more investments in the aging electric grid, two moves she said would help curb power failures and lower energy bills.

MORE SIGN THEFTS: A number of Chuck Ferrar’s state House of Delegates campaign signs have been stolen or destroyed over the past several weeks, Annapolis city police said. A brief in the Annapolis Capital says that a campaign staffer reported to police Monday that 10 large signs and 50 smaller ones have been stolen or torn down around the district since March 30.

LOLLAR’S POSITIONS: Charles Lollar, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, says he wants to audit the state’s tax laws and force state agency heads to “justify every penny they intend to spend.” The Charles County businessman told about a dozen attendees at a Baltimore Sun Newsmaker Forum on Tuesday evening that he would phase out Maryland’s income tax over five years to make the state friendlier to taxpayers and businesses, reports Colin Campbell in the Sun.

CLINTON DEFENDS BROWN: Speaking at an event that was part fundraiser, part pep rally for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s gubernatorial campaign, former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday defended the way the state handled the troubled roll out of its health insurance exchange — an issue Brown’s critics have attempted to use against him for months, reports John Fritze in the Sun. “I admire the fact that when they had problems with the health care website, like the federal government did, they fixed them,” said Clinton.

FACT-CHECKING BROWN: Jenna Johnson of the Post fact-checks Lt. Gov. Brown’s contention during the debate that he jumped into action when the health exchange system crashed, adding, “I reorganized the leadership at the exchange. The executive director left. We refocused the vendors, fired those who didn’t perform as promised, including IBM.” His contentions either can’t be proved, are stretches of the truth or are wrong – such as with IBM, which is still working for the state.

ENDORSEMENT INSULT: Political pundit Barry Rascovar, in his politicalmaryland blog, blasts the Washington Post’s tepid, vapid and terse endorsement of Anthony Brown for governor.

CONGRESSIONAL RACE: Nancy Hoyt of Severna Park is a Republican candidate for Congress in District 4. She writes, in an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital, why she is running for the post

O’MALLEY, CARDIN BACK LEGGETT: Bill Turque of the Post reports that with six weeks until Primary Day and a month before the start of early voting, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is rolling out the A-list endorsements. Gov. Martin O’Malley and Sen. Ben Cardin will formally declare their support for his re-election at a Potomac fundraiser today.

NEUMAN TO FREE CASINO FUNDS: Anne Arundel’s share of casino revenues next year will pay for a long-promised police substation, maintain expanded ambulance service and a new hiker-biker trail in Hanover, reports Zoe Read for the Annapolis Capital. In her budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, County Executive Laura Neuman proposed using the projected $16.5 million from Maryland Live! on continuing priorities started in previous years and recommended by the local development council set up to guide spending on communities most impacted by the casino.

NEUMAN-SCHUH DEBATE: If you missed the Monday debate between incumbent Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman and her Republican primary rival Del. Steve Schuh, you can watch it here, posted by the Annapolis Capital.

PRINCE GEORGE’S TERM LIMITS: The Prince George’s County Council is weighing whether to ask voters to change a law limiting elected officials to two consecutive terms in office, a restriction that is unique in the Washington metro area and reflects an anti-incumbent sentiment that county officials believe has started to wane, reports Arelis Hernández in the Post.