October 2, 2014

State Roundup, October 2, 2014

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PARAPHERNALIA PROSECUTIONS UNLIKELY: Maryland law makes it a crime to possess drug paraphernalia, though possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana now constitutes a civil offense punishable by an initial fine of $100 — a legal disparity that has prompted many county state’s attorneys to say they will limit prosecutions for paraphernalia possession, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record. “It seems asinine to charge someone for the wrapping paper when the drug itself is a civil offense,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said Wednesday.

MARIJUANA DEFENSE: As police and prosecutors continue to work out how to best enforce the new law decriminalizing pot possession, criminal defense lawyers say it brings up new issues they will have to consider when representing clients in marijuana cases — that is, if they have clients in the first place, reports Danny Jacobs in the Daily Record.

WAGE HIKE CELEBRATION: As a group of Montgomery County politicians gathered Wednesday in Silver Spring to celebrate a minimum-wage increase for many local workers, advocates for the working poor and labor representatives quickly reminded them that their victory is not complete, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post.

STATE BUYS THE SHAFT: The Board of Public Works Wednesday reluctantly approved buying a downtown Baltimore City building for more than twice its appraised value because the site is needed to construct a ventilation shaft for the Red Line transit project, writes Alexis Webb in MarylandReporter.com. A vacant four-story brick building is “exactly positioned” where the Red Line shaft needs to be, transit officials said.

NO DEGREE: A Republican state Senate candidate from Annapolis has admitted he falsely claimed to hold a college degree, saying he hasn’t yet graduated. Don Quinn, who is running against longtime Democratic Sen. John Astle, said he’s been taking online courses from Washington State University for about four years, but is 12 credits shy of earning his degree, report Pamela Wood and Michael Dresser in the Sun.

Prevent gun violence photo

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman talks at a news conference in Columbia marking first anniversary of Firearms Safety Act.

DEFENDING GUN LAWS: Maryland Democratic candidates Brian Frosh and Ken Ulman say they will continue to defend the state’s year-old gun laws, reports Arelis Hernández for the Post.

GUB RACE TIGHTENING: A new poll suggests the race for Maryland governor has tightened in recent months, with Democrat Anthony Brown holding only a narrow edge over Republican Larry Hogan in the traditionally blue state, write John Wagner and Scott Clement in the Post.

WORRISOME SIGNS FOR BROWN: With a little more than a month to Election Day, there are some worrisome signs for Anthony Brown on the campaign trail. For one, it’s not looking like a good year for Democrats nationally. Although political ill winds don’t often make it to Maryland, it’s clear that President Obama’s low ranking in the polls is not going to help Democratic candidates and may indeed be a drag. Perhaps more ominous for Brown’s chances, there are growing signs of “O’Malley fatigue” in many areas of Maryland, Laslo Boyd writes in Center Maryland.

DGA BUYS MORE BROWN ADS: The Democratic Governors Association has purchased two more weeks of television ads in Maryland amid signs that the gubernatorial contest between Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan remains competitive, the Post’s Scott Clement and John Wagner are reporting.

Hogan with women

Larry Hogan Jr., Republican nominee for governor, talks at an Annapolis rally emphasizing his support for women’s health issues.

HOGAN FIGHTS BACK: Using a daughter’s compelling testimonial and a rally in Annapolis, Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan is fighting rival Anthony Brown’s attempt to persuade voters that Hogan would take the state backward on such matters as abortion and birth control, Michael Dresser and John Fritze report for the Sun.

MORE TRUTH-STRETCHING: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that the attack ad on Larry Hogan that claims Anthony Brown’s Republican challenger for governor wants to give a $300 million tax break to corporations at the expense of kindergartners is another stretch into the shady side by the Democrats, and for a couple of reasons.

O’MALLEY POLL STANDING OF NO WORRY: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley says his low standing in early 2016 presidential polls “doesn’t terribly worry me,” reports John Wagner for the Post.

ENVIRONMENTAL HONOR: Gov. Martin O’Malley drew praise and protesters in Baltimore Tuesday night for his handling of environmental issues, report Tim Wheeler in the Sun. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science gave the two-term Democrat an award for his leadership in the long-running effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay and in committing the state to reducing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.

SCHUH, JOHNSON DISAGREE ON TAX CUTS: A point of contention in the race for Anne Arundel County executive is whether the county should maximize its voter-mandated property tax cap. Steve Schuh believes Anne Arundel County is at a “tipping point.” His opponent, Democrat George Johnson, disagrees. He said it’s too soon after the recession to propose tax cuts, reports Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.

GAZETTE LIKES IKE: The editorial board for the Gazette is backing Ike Leggett for another term as county executive of Montgomery County.