November 21, 2014

State Roundup, November 21, 2014

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STILL ON DEATH ROW: Justin Fenton of the Sun is reporting that, with two months left in office, Gov. Martin O’Malley has asked to meet with at least two families whose loved ones were killed by men on Maryland’s death row — a move that might signal the governor is poised to take action on death penalty cases.

MDE ACTS TO DENY EXELON PERMIT: Maryland Department of the Environment has moved to deny a water quality permit for Exelon Corp. to operate the Conowingo Dam — on concerns the dam’s impact on the Chesapeake Bay could undermine state efforts to comply with the Clean Water Act, Daniel Menefee is reporting for MarylandReporter.com.

PHOSPHORUS RULES: In an 11th hour move, Gov. Martin O’Malley put forth rules to tighten regulations on phosphorus that runs off into the Chesapeake Bay. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun talk about what this means for farmers, the Bay, and why O’Malley made the decision when he did.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com reports that the annual awards ceremony by Maryland’s environmental community was tinged with trepidation Tuesday night as they worried about what was in store from the new Republican governor. “These are uncertain times,” said Marcia Verploegen Lewis, board chair of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, which puts on the awards dinner. “We need to protect the regulations we have in place” and “maintain our legacy programs.”

HOW TO WIELD A TAX KNIFE: A consistent campaign theme of Gov.-elect Larry Hogan that resonated with Maryland voters was his pledge to seek ways to roll back as many as possible of 40 tax increases his campaign identified as enacted during the last eight years, writes Donald Fry in an op-ed for the Daily Record. Fry writes that those increases fall into a few categories.

MOVE ON RED LINE: Opinionator Fraser Smith writes in a piece for the Daily Record that Gov.-elect Larry Hogan should move ahead with the Red Line, a much needed lifeline for Baltimore City, since it will mean more jobs.

GOV. RACE SPENDING HIT $24M: Democrat Anthony Brown and Republican Larry Hogan didn’t set a spending record in their race for governor. Spending by the Hogan and Brown campaigns — combined with expenditures their state political parties made explicitly on their behalf — came to $24.2 million for the four-year election cycle, according to campaign finance reports filed this week. In 2006, the GOP’s Bob Ehrlich and Democrat Martin O’Malley spent a combined $30 million.

TRANSITION BLUES: WYPR-FM’s political analyst Fraser Smith says that with the election behind us and winter lurking, depending on who or where you are on the political spectrum, it’s a season of change, challenge and melancholy. Call it the Transition Blues. No one’s immune.

O’MALLEY PAC ADDS STAFF: As he continues to weigh a 2016 presidential bid, Gov. Martin O’Malley has added two staffers in recent months to his political action committee, both with ties to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, reports John Wagner in the Post.

O’MALLEY GIVES THANKS: In a short piece in Time magazine online, O’Malley offers words of thanks for some of the things he is grateful for as he winds up his eight years as governor.

CHANGES AT COLE FIELD HOUSE: Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank promised to contribute $25 million to the University of Maryland to help pay for a planned $155 million athletics and academic complex — a project that was unanimously endorsed Thursday by a Board of Regents committee, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun. A video report tops the article.

DEM COMMITTEE CHAIR: Following up on a Bethesda Magazine article, Kate Alexander of the Gazette reports that Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee chairman Kevin Walling is expected to resign soon from his post. In an email obtained by The Gazette, Walling told members of the committee that he intended to step down as chairman.

SCHUH TAPS SAFETY CHIEFS: Steve Schuh has picked two longtime public safety officials to be the next leaders of Anne Arundel County’s police and fire departments. The Republican county executive-elect announced Thursday that Tim Altomare and Allan Graves will be the county’s new police and fire chiefs, respectively, report Rema Rahman and Ben Weathers for the Annapolis Capital. A video of Schuh’s announcement tops the article.

ANNAPOLIS POL DIES: Jack Lambert of the Annapolis Capital reports that Scott Bowling, an Annapolis political fixture over the last decade, died Wednesday after a long battle with Crohn’s disease. He was 43.

MONEY DIDN’T TALK: The amounts of money coming into the candidates’ campaigns varied greatly, and did not foretell the results in this month’s Republican sweep of Democratic incumbents and challengers to represent St. Mary’s in the Maryland General Assembly, reports John Wharton for the Gazette.

FREDERICK KILLS ENERGY INCINERATOR: The Frederick County Board of Commissioners struck down plans Thursday for a regional waste-to-energy incinerator, opting to haul the county’s waste to a landfill with a short-term contract instead, Paige Jones writes in the Frederick News Post. In a 3-2 vote, Commissioners President Blaine Young and Commissioners Kirby Delauter and David Gray voted to kill the $471 million incinerator project by canceling the contract and related permits. Commissioners Paul Smith and Billy Shreve cast the dissenting votes to keep the project on the table while the county explores its options.

NO BIBLE: When Jessica Fitzwater raises her right hand on Dec. 1 to take the oath of office with her other incoming Frederick County Council members, there will be one difference in her pledge before friends, family and elected officials: The book under her left hand will not be the Bible, writes Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post.

CHARLES CONFIDENTIALITY BILL STRUCK: The Charles County commissioners struck down proposed legislation Tuesday that would have both prohibited them from disclosing information gleaned during their closed sessions and allowed for the censure of commissioners who did so, reports Jeff Newman of the Gazette.

Ulman and family

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman with his family at the unveiling of his portrait. (From his Facebook page)

ULMAN PORTRAIT UNVEILED: Ken Ulman may have just a week and a half left in office as Howard County executive, but his image will stick around the county’s Ellicott City headquarters even after he packs up his office, writes Amanda Yeager for the Howard County Times. A video of the unveiling of his official portrait tops the story.