September 4, 2014

State Roundup, September 4, 2014

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COMMON CORE ASSESSMENTS OK’D: A nearly $60 million contract to provide school assessments for the national Common Core standards was approved Wednesday, after it drew criticism over a lack of competition and questions about litigation in New Mexico, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

  • Comptroller Peter Franchot protested what he saw as a lack of real competition and the failure of Maryland to take part in the negotiations on price that were conducted by New Mexico, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. “How do we know we’re getting the best price?” Franchot asked state schools Superintendent Lillian Lowery. “I am stunned that are we are so casual in this bidding process.”

PRE-K PROMISES: Maryland provides pre-k classes to about 29,000 low-income students, and as many as 32,000 more children might attend if they could. The grants are considered a small step toward expanding pre-kindergarten classes to all Maryland 4-year-olds, a top campaign promise of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown as he runs for governor, reports Jenna Johnson for the Post.

HoCo SCHOOLS: Howard County executive candidate Courtney Watson unveiled her education platform, a 17-point plan that seeks to expand funding for some current programs and bring new ones, including the International Baccalaureate program and tech business partnerships, to the county, Amanda Yeager reports for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. The announcement comes about a week after state Sen. Allan Kittleman, Watson’s Republican opponent in the county executive race, rolled out his education plan, a nine-point platform that promised not to cut education funding and emphasized a need to address inequities outside of the school system.

HIDDEN REPUBLICAN: State Sen. Allan Kittleman, the Republican nominee for Howard County executive, faces a big challenge, writes Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland. Finding a mention on his website of the word “Republican” is not easy despite the fact that the name “Kittleman” has been practically synonymous with “Republican” in Howard County.

HoCo Dems Labor Day picnic

HOT DOGS AND DEMOCRATS: Howard County Democrats, including all these candidates, incumbents and members of the Central Committee, gathered on Monday for their annual Labor Day picnic. Congressman John Sarbanes, upper left in white Ask Me T-shirt, told them “We need to pull that veneer of moderation from Allan Kittleman and Larry Hogan. These are right-wing Republicans.”

BIZ LEADERS ASK DELANEY’S HELP: Western Maryland business leaders met with U.S. Rep. John Delaney Wednesday and asked him to help simplify the tax code, fix broken parts of the Affordable Health Care Act and get a handle on rising costs of electricity and gasoline, Michael Sawyers write for the Cumberland Times News.

LONG ELECTION SEASON: Maryland’s general election season is longer this year, as primaries were held in June instead of September. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about why this may present underdogs with a better opportunity to win than they’ve had in past years.

ELECTION MATTERS ON CAMPUS: The editorial board for the Diamondback opines that as college students, one of the biggest issues on our minds is college affordability, and this November, it might be the key factor determining who they vote for in this state’s gubernatorial election. Tuition affordability is nothing to joke about, and gubernatorial candidates should take the issue seriously — both in their platforms and in media advertisements.

FRANCHOT RUNS: Incumbent state comptroller Peter Franchot, who faces Republican Bill Campbell and write-in candidate Anjali Reed Phukan in the Nov. 4 election, says, “I’m not a robot and voters did not send me down there to be a rubber stamp for the administration or for the leadership in the legislature.” Kate Alexander profiles him for the Gazette.

FED FIREARMS IN FREDERICK: Paige Jones of the Frederick News-Post reports that law enforcement agencies in Frederick County acquired almost $90,000 worth of firearms and a vehicle from a free Department of Defense program as of Aug. 18, according to data from Maryland State Police.

STAFF DONATES TO LEGGETT: Call it an investment in job security, or maybe just a donation to a candidate they happen to like. Some of Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s department heads and senior staff gave generously to his successful Democratic primary campaign for a third term, according to finance reports, Bill Turque of the Post is reporting.

***CampaignON, the Owings Mills software and political services company, is introducing a new fundraising program for candidates and officeholders branded as Forever Fundraising™, company President Herbert Sweren announced. This new approach to fundraising gives CampaignON™ clients the proprietary software technology and professional services to promote, manage and expand fundraising efforts throughout their term in office. “After our recent successes in Maryland’s June Primary Election, a number of our clients asked if we could do their fundraising,” Sweren said. “Fundraising wasn’t part of our original business model but we already had the donor tracking and reporting software along with the marketing/advertising services and fundraising experience in place so it was the next logical step.”***