December 1, 2014

State Roundup, December 1, 2014

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BUSINESSES’ FUTURE IN MD: Everything from taxes and regulatory changes are potentially on the agenda as a new legislature and Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan take office in January shortly after the expected release in December of recommendations from a task force convened to study improving the state’s business climate. Bryan Sears writes for the Daily Record that business leaders say they are excited at the prospect of a more business-friendly state under a governor who says he is focused on restoring Maryland as a competitive player when it comes to growing, attracting and retaining businesses.

WHY BROWN LOST: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown did not lose because of poor Democratic turnout. Neither did Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. It is a dangerous myth in our party that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, combined with Baltimore City, are enough to win a statewide election, John Gallagher of Seventh State writes with another interpretation of election results. Even if turnout in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Baltimore City had been 10 points higher, Larry Hogan would still be the governor-elect. The truth of the matter is that Democrats cannot win a statewide election if they get killed in the Baltimore suburbs.

WHY DEMS LOST: One reason Democrats fared poorly in this month’s elections is that the party’s voters were turned off by “purely negative” campaigns that didn’t speak to issues facing them, outgoing Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said this week, writes John Wagner for the Post.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE RULES: New rules proposed by the state Board of Elections would forbid candidates from dipping into their political funds to pay for such things as foreign travel, tuition or mounting a legal defense to charges unrelated to the campaign, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

OPEN ENROLLMENT: Gene Ransom of MedChi, writing in Center Maryland, says that the health insurance Open Enrollment period – the time of year when Marylanders with private health insurance or Medicare have the opportunity to enroll in or change certain health benefit programs – is currently under way in Maryland, and it is critical that Maryland consumers are aware of their options.

FILM INCENTIVES: Frank Underwood might be the most powerful leader in the world on “House of Cards,” but his fate could be determined in coming days by a small group of Maryland politicians led by Gov.-elect Larry Hogan. David Zurawik, media columnist for the Sun, reports that the dust has hardly settled from last year’s bruising battle over the amount of tax incentives the state would give “House of Cards” to keep the Kevin Spacey drama filming here, and already the Netflix series is back in the cost-cutting cross hairs.

POLICE BODY CAMS: The editorial board for the Frederick News-Post is urging the use of police body cameras. In an editorial, the board writes that police-borne cameras are an issue likely to resurface in the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly with recommendations for their deployment and use due Dec. 31 from a state workgroup. While the discussion was already under way, it is almost inevitable the debate will draw impetus from events in Ferguson, Mo. There, a jury declined to indict white Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black.

PrintBODY CAM DISPUTE: It’s no secret that two proponents of police body cameras in Baltimore City — Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and  Council President Jack Young — are at loggerheads over the details of how to implement the program. But another dispute helped fuel the larger fire: whether former FBI agent Tyrone Powers would be named to a task force the mayor had proposed, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

MCINTOSH CHAIRS APPROPRIATIONS: Having labored for years to save the bay, Del. Maggie McIntosh turns now to matters of the purse. How Maryland spends the taxpayers’ money is about to become her new Job 1, writes Fraser Smith in a commentary at WYPR-FM. She takes over as chair of the House Appropriations Committee at a moment of  great challenge.

MIDDLE GROUND: The General Assembly begins in early January and one longtime lawmaker, state Sen. David Brinkley (R) of Frederick and Carroll counties, will not return to his post after a defeat in the June primary. WYPR’s Fraser Smith talks to him about the increased partisanship in Annapolis in recent years and what Gov.-elect Larry Hogan needs to do to have a successful session.

ORATORY COURT: One by one, 13 nervous teens made their way to the front of a full courtroom. For each of them, this was not their first time in front of a judge. However, this time was different. This time, they came not as juvenile offenders, but as invited guests. The Department of Juvenile Services, partnered with the Maryland State Department of Education, hosted its 20th annual oratory competition on Nov. 19, writes CNS’s Dani Shae Thompson in the Daily Record.

DEPLETED PUBLIC FINANCING: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan this month became the first candidate in Maryland history to win a gubernatorial election while participating in the state’s public financing system. The question now is whether he’ll be the last, writes John Wagner in the Washington Post. The public fund — from which Hogan drew close to $3 million — is almost depleted, and no one has put forward a viable plan to replenish it.

ABOLISH LT. GOV. POST: Political commentator Barry Rascovar writes in MarylandReporter.com that if we learned anything from Anthony Brown’s eight years as lieutenant governor it’s that the office isn’t worth the taxpayer dollars it consumes. Indeed, there is no good reason to have a lieutenant governor. There are sound fiscal and management reasons to abolish it.

O’MALLEY’S CANADA SPEECH: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley delivered a keynote address at Canada 2020 on Nov. 26, then sat  down for an on-stage interview with Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Center Maryland runs the 50 minute event.

MoCo’s SLOW-MO VOTE COUNT: Montgomery County, Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction, lagged hours behind other parts of the state in tallying ballots on election night. Officials in the county want to know why, Bill Turque reports in the Post.

ICC TOLLS: The amount of open asphalt that remains on the ICC nearly four years after it first opened is prompting some to urge Maryland Gov.-elect Larry Hogan to cut toll rates, particularly for regular commuters, writes Katherine Shaver in the Post.

PINBALL WIZARD: WAMU’s Matt Bush did a report on the upcoming Montgomery County delegation hearing on Wednesday. Del. Eric Luedtke writes on Facebook: “Among the bills he mentions is my legislation to repeal an outdated limit on pinball machines in MoCo. I try to do at least one of these ‘repeal a stupid law’ bills each year, and laugh along with a lot of my colleagues at the ridiculousness of these laws. But there is a larger point — that we don’t do enough to get rid of unnecessary laws that limit our citizens and small businesses. That it’s just as important a role for the legislature to get rid of bad old laws as it is to pass good new ones.”

POLS GIVING THANKS: In PoliticalMaryland.com, Barry Rascovar writes about why numerous politicos had a lot to give thanks for, among them Larry Hogan, Peter Franchot, Ken Ulman, Mike Miller, Blaine Young and Kevin Kamenetz, who should be grateful the GOP didn’t have a stronger candidate against him.

CARROLL STATE’S ATTORNEY DIES: Carroll County State’s Attorney Jerry Barnes died Saturday morning from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to a news release from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, writes Jacob deNobel for the Carroll County Times. Barnes leaves behind a legacy of defense for victims of domestic violence throughout his 20-year career. Barnes was also the ex-husband of former Del. Carmen Amedori.

VAPING BAN: Electronic cigarettes and vaping could soon be banned from public places where Montgomery County already prohibits the use of tobacco products, reports the Gazette’s Kate Alexander. Councilwoman Nancy Floreen proposed Tuesday a bill that would add e-cigarettes to the county’s ban on smoking in certain public places.