August 15, 2014

State Roundup, August 15, 2014

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ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS PUSH MIKULSKI: Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat reports that a group of state and national environmental groups are pushing U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski to remove language she introduced in a Senate report on a defense appropriations bill that could kill a wind energy project in Somerset County.

FRANCHOT PETITION DRIVE: Comptroller Peter Franchot began his initiative to have Maryland’s public schools start their school year after Labor Day, looking for at least 10,000 residents to sign a petition supporting the change at a conference in Ocean City on Thursday, reports Phil Davis for the Salisbury Daily Times.

PENSION REFORMS: A state pension official told a gathering of local government officials that reforms in the last three years will place the state retirement plan on more sound financial footing even as she cautioned that projections made this year may be subject to changes, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

TREASURER’S OFFICE AUDIT: Auditors have found continuing problems with how the Maryland State Treasurer’s Office handles workers compensation insurance payments and claims for state employees amounting to $268 million over the past three years, reports Charlie Hayward for MarylandReporter.com.

DISABLED VOTER SUIT: A federal judge said Thursday that he has heard enough evidence that disabled residents can’t take full advantage of absentee voting to press ahead with a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind against the state of Maryland, according to an AP report in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

George Manis

George Manis 1929-2014

GEORGE MANIS DIES: Long-time Annapolis lobbyist George Manis, 85, died on Tuesday. As his obit says, he was “a true gentleman,” and an advocate of the old school, and always kind to young reporters and old reporters, as well. Viewing is on Sunday, and services are on Monday.

BOBO’S INSPIRATIONS: Fraser Smith, in a column for the Daily Record, writes about Del. Elizabeth Bobo, her lengthy life in public service and the inspirations that kept her going — including her late grandson, Zachary.

DISTRICT 1B: The two candidates for the District 1B delegate seat took on direct questions, and for the most part, gave direct answers at a Wednesday evening forum held by local labor organizations, writes Matthew Bieniek for the Cumberland Times News. Del. Kevin Kelly, a Democrat, holds the 1B seat. Cumberland attorney Jason Buckel is the Republican nominee. Kelly is also an attorney.

FORMER CANDIDATE SENTENCED: Lansdowne resident Brian Bailey, a former candidate for state delegate in District 12, was sentenced to a $500 fine, one year of supervised probation and 200 hours of community service following criminal election law violation charges for failing to provide an authority line for campaign material on Wednesday, reports Lauren Loricchio for the Sun.

ADVICE FOR BROWN, HOGAN: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that as the November general election nears, political pundits have advice for the two gubernatorial candidates:Republican Larry Hogan needs to drive home his message of cutting taxes and creating jobs. And he needs to appear pleasant. Democrat Anthony Brown needs to avoid unforced errors that could squander his advantages. And he can’t underestimate his opponent.

HOGAN’S POSITIONS: To hear Maryland Democrats tell it, a victory for Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan could lead to the legalization of additional assault rifles, new limits on women’s access to contraception and the clock being turned back on gay rights, writes John Wagner for the Post. But Hogan isn’t talking much about those issues on the campaign trail — and he says he respects existing state laws on guns, reproductive issues and same-sex marriage, even if they differ from his own long-held beliefs.

HARPING ON THE RAIN TAX: The Washington Post editorial board, writing about the GOP’s attempt to gain an advantage in the gubernatorial race, opines that, “harping on the supposed absurdities of the so-called rain tax may constitute the only promising angle of attack for Republicans in a state where they are outnumbered 2 to 1 among registered voters. It’s a tougher sell on the merits. The “rain tax” is, in fact, a federally mandated levy on pollution caused by stormwater run-off, one of the main culprits in the tragic, decades-long environmental degradation of the Chesapeake Bay.”

QUICK STOP IN OC: Gov. Martin O’Malley worked the room at one of Maryland’s biggest political events of the year Thursday, grinning for photos, slapping the backs of fellow politicians and causing bottlenecks wherever he stopped. Most years, the governor sticks around Ocean City until Saturday to deliver a speech to the annual Maryland Association of Counties convention. But in O’Malley’s final year in office, he will instead spend the next two days working on his political future, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.