September 26, 2014

State Roundup, September 26, 2014

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PENSION TENSION: Persistent critics of the investment performance of Maryland’s $45 billion pension fund for state teachers and employees are again slamming the fund for failing to match the performance of other state pension systems, even though its 14.4% return was nearly twice as high as the fund’s target, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

CORRECTIONS RECRUITS: Maryland’s prison officials are looking for a few good men, and women, to serve as corrections officers in the state’s detention centers. Recruiters from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services have been visiting military installations in search of candidates who have already been successful in a highly structured organization, Joe Burris writes in the Sun.

MOVE OVER: The expansion of the state’s “move-over law” to include tow truck drivers, effective Wednesday, Oct. 1, is a welcome relief to towing companies. The law has been needed for years, says the owner of one tow truck company. Heather Cobun writes the story for the Carroll County Times.

FIGHTING POACHERS: Radar towers and infrared cameras are forming a surveillance network fully implemented for the first time last oyster season, October to March, to protect the Bay’s oyster beds from poaching. It will be watching again next Wednesday when oyster season reopens for tonging and diving (dredging begins Nov. 3), writes Tim Prudente for the Annapolis Capital.

REVIVED HORSE INDUSTRY: The next month will provide ample proof that Maryland’s Colts are Back.  The rebirth of our state’s horse industry will be apparent in a visit to Monday’s Thoroughbred yearling sale at the Timonium Fairgrounds, or next month’s Jim McKay Maryland Million Day races at Laurel Park, writes horse breeder Josh Pons for Center Maryland.

Hogan presser

Larry Hogan Jr. at news conference Thursday.

HOGAN SEEKS PROBE: Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan on Thursday urged state and federal prosecutors to probe what he called a disturbing pattern of political donations by contractors that have done work on the state’s online health insurance exchange, writes John Wagner in the Post.

POLITICAL AD WAR: Less than six weeks before Election Day, the candidates for governor are flooding the airwaves with apocalyptic messages about the dire consequences of choosing the other guy. The ads warn that Republican Larry Hogan is “dangerous,” while Democrat Anthony Brown is “just not ready to be governor.” But they give viewers little information on how either man would govern. Both campaigns are focusing on a remarkably narrow range of attacks, hammered home through constant repetition, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

CENTER STAGE AT DEBATES: There was a flurry of activity this week in the race for governor. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Karen Hosler talk about how recent state budget news and renewed allegations of wrongdoing may take center stage at the upcoming debates.

BOARD WON’T FINE HOGAN: The Maryland State Board of Elections on Thursday found that Republican Larry Hogan had not properly accounted for a poll commissioned before the launch of his gubernatorial bid but voted to waive a $50 fine that it could have imposed, Erin Cox is reporting in the Sun.

HOGAN SPEAKS: Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate for governor, spoke at Hynson Lounge on the Washington College campus Monday, Sept. 22, Peter Heck writes in the Easton Star Democrat.

POLITICAL PULSE WITH LAZARICK: On Montgomery County Municipal Cable TV, Charles Duffy, host of Political Pulse, spent a half-hour earlier this month kicking off the fall election season with “grizzled veteran” Len Lazarick, editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com. In this half-hour video, Duffy and Lazarick talk about the Brown-Hogan race, voter turnout, close polls, the shift of political power to the D.C. suburbs, the AG race, and the wonderful traffic opportunities getting to the studio in Kensington.

ALL-STARS: Among items in Rema Rahman’s Political Notes for the Annapolis Capital is this: The Maryland Retailers Association has named several Anne Arundel County state legislators to its “Senate and House All Star Teams.”

PUBLIC FINANCING: Publicly funded elections will be a game-changer for politics in Montgomery County, proponents predict. Candidates will be able to run and win without big money from real estate developers or public employee unions. Small individual donors will see the power of their contributions enhanced by a proposed system of matching funds. But elsewhere in the country, reports Bill Turque in the Post, such systems have compiled a record that is mixed at best, falling short of the promises that advocates are making in advance of next week’s County Council vote on a public finance plan.

HOWARD RACE: With less than two months to go until the general election, Howard County voters have been hearing a lot lately from both county executive candidates. Early this week, each campaign released a new TV ad. County Councilwoman Courtney Watson, the Democratic candidate, has an ad emphasizing concerns about opponent Allan Kittleman’s stance on gun control. His campaign, meanwhile, has focused on pushing back against what he has called “Washington-style” attacks on his record, writes Amanda Yeager for the Sun.

Friedman sworn in my OMalley

At the rostrum of the House of Delegates, Gov. Martin O’Malley swears in Dan Friedman, counsel to the General Assembly, as a judge on the Court of Special Appeals while Secretary of State John McDonough looks on and Jonah Friedman holds the bible. (Photo by Rick Lippenholz, Governor’s Press Office)

HARFORD COUNCIL BACKS EXEC RAISE: The Harford County Council voted Thursday night to override a veto of legislation that will increase the base pay of the next county executive from $90,000 annually to $130,000, writes Allan Vought for the Sun. It took less than five minutes for the council to convene in a special session and vote 6-1 to override County Executive David Craig’s veto, which was issued Tuesday. Council members did not comment.

POLITICAL ROUNDS IN HURLOCK: As the nights get cooler and the political season heats up, politicians are making their rounds, shaking hands and kissing babies. Four of them came to Hurlock’s town meeting on Monday, Sept. 22. Lacking any babies to kiss, they simply gave brief three-minute presentations at the end of the meeting, writes Andrew Sharp for the Easton Star Democrat.