July 2, 2014

State Roundup, July 2, 2014

Print More

$80M CUT SOUGHT: Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to ask the Board of Public Works today to cut close to $80 million from a state budget the legislature approved just three months ago, an acknowledgment that tax revenues are not likely to be as robust as projected, aides said. John Wagner of the Post reports that the cuts amount to about 0.5% of the planned $16.1 billion in general-fund spending in the current fiscal year, which began Tuesday. Aides said O’Malley is proposing to eliminate 61 vacant positions across state government but that no layoffs are in the works.

RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY: In the aftermath of an eight-year court battle, a major change in the way Maryland’s justice system operates finally boiled down Tuesday to one simple question. “Would you like to have a court-appointed attorney?” court Commissioner Jennifer Colton asked a heavily tattooed man sitting in her Towson office. Ian Duncan of the Sun writes in the Carroll County Times that Colton is a foot soldier in Maryland’s sprawling judicial system, tasked with deciding whether arrested people should be released, required to post bail or held until they see a judge.

INCOME GAP AROUND D.C.: While much of the D.C. region has bounced back from the recession, certain segments of the population are benefitting from this recovery more than others, a new report found. Margaret Sessa-Hawkins of MarylandReporter.com writes that the report, “Bursting the Bubble,” shows that mirroring a national trend, income inequality has been growing over the past few years in the D.C. metro area, even during the economic recovery. The report lists several policy suggestions to address the disparity.

HOPKINS, UNION RETURN TO TABLE: A union representing 2,000 workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital is in negotiations with the medical institution over workers’ wages after Gov. Martin O’Malley stepped in to stop a planned four-day strike, according to an AP report in the Daily Record. Talks between the union and the hospital resumed Tuesday after a previous round of negotiations stalled last week

BLAME FOR GAS PRICES: The editorial board for the Sun opines that, as often happens when mid-summer vacations beckon, gas prices are up and motorists may be tempted to fume about the state’s fuel taxes, which increased on July 1. They shouldn’t. If anyone wants to find a culprit for rising gasoline prices, they should look to Iraq and other suppliers and not Annapolis.

FARM RUNOFF REDUCTION: After implementing an agricultural stormwater cascading system on his farm near Chestertown in 2011, new data shows that Samuel Owings’s self-constructed system is fulfilling its purpose to reduce agricultural runoff from flowing into the Hambleton Creek, Chester River and Chesapeake Bay, reports Nicole Romeo in the Easton Star Democrat.

SSA NOMINEE: WYPR’s Fraser Smith and John Fritze talk about the nomination of Marylander Carolyn Colvin to head the Social Security Administration, and why she’s likely to face tough questions from both parties during her confirmation hearings.

MARYLAND WORKING FAMILIES TOUTS SUCCESS: The new organization Maryland Working Families is reporting good results in its first foray into state electoral politics last week, as a statewide Democratic Party primary election drew about 400,000 voters to the polls, reports Bruce Vail for In These Times. Maryland Working Families — affiliated with Working Families Party, a budding alliance of labor unions and traditionally progressive groups — began its first direct electioneering effort in Maryland this year with purposefully modest goals, says executive director Charly Carter.

GANSLER ON LOSS: Attorney General Doug Gansler is unclear about his political plans for the future after losing his bid for governor. On Monday he sat down with WBFF-T V for the first time since the Democratic primary. Gansler says he harbors no hard feelings about his loss in the primary. In fact, he says he’d be willing to campaign for his opponent – Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown – if asked to do so.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR HOUGH: Bethany Rodgers of the Frederick News Post interviews a number of lawmakers on what caused the defeat of Sen. David Brinkley to his Tea Party opponent Del. Michael Hough and what Hough, if he should win in the General Election, can expect from the collegial atmosphere in the Senate.

GLASSMAN ON HARFORD EXEC RACE: Center Maryland conducts a video interview with Sen. Barry Glassman, Republican candidate for Harford County executive. Glassman, a lifelong resident of Harford County, discusses his passion for local politics and explains how his county is poised for more economic growth.

PUBLIC SAFETY & CHANGING OF LEADERSHIP: County Executive Laura Neuman’s loss to Del. Steve Schuh in the Republican primary last week leaves uncertain the future of Anne Arundel’s public safety leadership, who have had cordial relationships with county union officials since the chiefs were appointed by Neuman last year. That wasn’t the case with Neuman’s predecessor, and that goodwill could be lost when a new county executive is elected in November. He’ll have the opportunity to pick a new police and fire chiefs, reports Ben Weathers for the Capital Gazette.

HUCKER MARGIN WIDENS: Del. Tom Hucker slightly extended his slender margin over Evan Glass in the Montgomery County District 5 County Council Democratic primary race after the first set of absentee ballots were counted late last week, reports Bill Turque in the Post. Hucker won a slight plurality of the 570 absentee ballots, extending his lead from 225 to 244 votes.