October 6, 2014

State Roundup, October 6, 2014

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MARYLAND READY FOR EBOLA: Maryland is prepared to deal with the possibility of an Ebola infection, says Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, following the news earlier this week that a man in Texas is the first confirmed case of the deadly disease in the United States. CNS’s Ashley Westerman writes in the Daily Record.

CHILDREN WITH ATTORNEYS: As of June 2014, there were 4,250 children in removal proceedings in Maryland. Of those children, 2,487 were not represented by an attorney. The available data and logic confirm that children with attorneys have a much better chance at successfully navigating the existing immigration laws to argue the merits of their cases.  Simply put, children with lawyers are more likely to remain in the United States, writes Matthew Vocci in a column for the Daily Record.

WEEDING NEW POT LAW: Although the new law to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana only went into effect on Wednesday, it’s already clear that it’s going to take some more work to ensure that those policy goals are achieved uniformly throughout the state, opines the editorial board for the Sun. As is common with major legislation, this one contains some ambiguities and omissions that will need to be addressed by the legislature, the courts or both.

FRACKING IN FAR WESTERN MD: Maryland environmental regulators see little risk of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in far western Maryland. The AP is reporting in the Daily Record that a draft report released Friday for public comment ranks the risks associated with water contamination mostly low, and in some cases moderate.

STOTTLEMYER VS. YOUNG: Republican Corey Stottlemyer concedes that state Sen. Ron Young was once a visionary leader who, as mayor of Frederick, helped a sleepy city become a thriving hub of business and culture. But that’s all in the past, Stottlemyer says. Stottlemyer, 38, an economist in his first campaign for office, said, “I’m running against his four years as state senator. I see him not as the leader he once was, but as a follower. He’s not pushing new ideas.” Young, 73, says that line of argument is hogwash, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

HOGAN, BROWN ADDRESS AFRICAN AMERICAN VOTERS: Erin Cox of the Sun report that GOP nominee Larry Hogan has canvassed along inner-city streets and spoken to students at a historically black college in Bowie. He says his party has too often overlooked African-American voters — and argues his job-creating economic policies are just what’s needed to address the community’s high jobless rate. Democrat Anthony Brown — whose election would give Maryland its first black governor — often campaigns before African-American groups, but studiously avoids talking about minority voters. He prefers a broad message of inclusion, saying his policies are designed to make life better for everyone.

BROWN CAN LOSE: Can Anthony Brown lose this race? asks columnist Barry Rascovar in MarylandReporter.com. He says that Larry Hogan comes across as a likeable, engaging and gregarious fellow with a simple message — let’s get a handle on excessive government spending and then let’s see if we can lower taxes. With Anthony Brown, there’s no sense of humanity, no sense he’s a flesh-and-blood candidate with emotions and feelings. He comes across as stiff, robotic, programmed and unable to think on his feet or engage voters in ad-lib conversations.

BROWN WON’T RELEASE RETURNS: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running for governor, says he will not make his income tax returns available for review. His opponent, Republican Larry Hogan, also has yet to do so, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

SO NEITHER WILL HOGAN: Republican candidate for governor Larry Hogan said Saturday he won’t make his income tax returns public, because his opponent, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, has declined to release his, according to an AP report in the Washington Examiner.

GUN ADVOCATES BUOYED BY HOGAN: Some leading gun rights advocates in Maryland say they’ve been buoyed by private assurances from Republican Larry Hogan that he would work to expand access to firearms if elected governor, even though Hogan is saying little publicly about that issue as he campaigns in the heavily Democratic state, writes John Wagner for the Post.

NEW BROWN GUN AD: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony Brown is out with a provocative new television ad that shows a military-style assault rifle resting against a swing set and later against a tree as young children run by on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood. The 30-second spot is intended to highlight Republican Larry Hogan’s opposition to sweeping gun control legislation passed last year which banned 45 types of assault rifles, as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, writes John Wagner for the Post.

BROWN TALKS BUDGET: A Maryland gubernatorial candidate forum in Towson on Friday broadly focused on early education, child care and family support services — but Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the Democratic nominee, kept talking about taxes and the state’s tight budget, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post.

BROWN ATTACKS HOGAN FIGURES: In the race for Maryland governor, Republican Larry Hogan has said that he could easily save the state more than $1.75 billion by cutting waste and fraud that has already been flagged in routine audits. But the campaign of Democrat Anthony Brown said this weekend that Hogan’s figure is based on faulty calculations — and there’s no way he could actually save that much money, Jenna Johnson of the Post is reporting.

HOGAN, BROWN ON BUSINESS When Republican Larry Hogan and Democrat Anthony G. Brown discuss the business climate in Maryland, it seems as if the gubernatorial rivals are talking about two different states, Michael Dresser and Erin Cox report in the Sun.

***REACT TO THE DEBATE. The first televised debate between Anthony Brown and Larry Hogan will air on WJZ Tuesday at 7 p.m. and will be simulcast on Maryland Public TV. We’ll be putting together a collection of reactions and observations about the debate after 10 p.m. that night. I’ve asked some of our regular contributors to respond, but I’d like to hear from anyone who would like to comment. Send your comments to Len@MarylandReporter.com. Real names only, please.***

ILA PROBES PORT UNION: The International Longshoremen’s Association is investigating the largest dockworker union at the Port of Baltimore over racially tinged allegations that local leaders stacked its membership in advance of coming local elections, reports Kevin Rector of the Sun.

O’MALLEY HEADS NORTH: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is headed to New England on Monday to campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial tickets in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, his political action committee announced Saturday, write John Wagner for the Post.

‘OBAMAPHONE’ USE SOARS: The use of consumer subsidized “Obamaphones” in Maryland grew 100-fold in three years, to 645,000, twice the number eligible for the program, Washington Examiner reports. According to Mark Newgent of Watchdog Wire, officially called Lifeline, the federally run program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, provides free cell phone service to qualified low-income customers.  Cell phone companies that sign up low-income customers are reimbursed $9.25 per customer through universal service charge fees on other cell phone customers’ monthly bills.

SCHOOLS IN ARUNDEL: George Johnson wants a 13th high school in Anne Arundel County. So does Steve Schuh — along with a whole lot more schools in 30 years — if he is elected. Schuh, the Republican candidate for county executive in the Nov. 4 general election, wants to eventually double the number of high schools in Anne Arundel County, from 12 to 24. Johnson, the Democratic candidate, said his opponent’s plan isn’t well thought out and that stress needs to be put on paying enough to get the best teachers. Kelcie Pegher writes for the Annapolis Capital.

FEW FORUMS IN MO CO: During the 2014 Montgomery County Democratic primary season, you could easily fill an entire week of evenings going to candidate debates and forums. Virtually every civic association, special interest group and district committee sponsored an event. But in a county where Democrats enjoy a 3-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans, the Nov. 4 general election is a different story, reports the Washington Post. Democrats who had to debate their primary opponents have far less incentive to tee it up with their GOP competition.

MO CO LGBT SPLIT: Induction into the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame is normally a low-profile, uplifting affair, recognizing a handful of community leaders for their work in fighting discrimination. This year, it has opened up simmering resentments and unsettled scores within the county’s LGBT leadership, writes Bill Turque for the Post.

MO CO CAMPAIGN FINANCING: Last week the Montgomery County Council passed a law that establishes partial public financing of county elections. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Bill Turque of the Washington Post talk about the impetus behind the law and what effects it might have on citizen participation in local elections.

WRITE-INS IN CARROLL: Carroll County’s write-in candidates have nearly insurmountable challenges to overcome in order to win in the November general election, according to political, government and election experts. Four people have filed as write-in candidates for the Carroll County Board of Commissioners, Christian Alexandersen writes for the Carroll County Times.

NO FOREIGN FIRMS: With a regional airport and access to two major interstate highways in their back pockets, Washington County officials more than a decade ago envisioned about 1,800 acres of land at seven locations around the county as potentially attractive sites for companies in foreign trade markets, writes C.J. Lovelace for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. However, in the 12 years the county has had its federal Foreign Trade Zone designation, no company has taken advantage of the U.S. Customs concessions associated with the zones, including duty-free imports and other economic incentives.

NEWSY: A visit from Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who, a handshake with Donald Trump, and escorting foreign dignitaries are all in a day’s work for Frederick native Allyson Cannon. As executive assistant at the National Press Club in Washington, Cannon helps organize the club’s weekly luncheons, which are broadcast on C-SPAN for an hour, Ben Singleton writes in the Frederick News Post.