December 3, 2014

State Roundup, December 3, 2014

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FED SPENDING IN MD DROPS: John Fritze is reporting in the Sun that federal spending in Maryland fell by nearly $1.2 billion last year — the latest sign that congressional belt-tightening is having an impact in a state long buoyed by the federal checkbook. The government spent $93 billion in Maryland in the fiscal year that ended in September 2013, representing 27% of the state’s economy, the Pew Charitable Trusts found.

MILLER SEES FEW CHANGES: Senate President Mike Miller said Tuesday that a massive retrenchment of taxes or government isn’t likely despite the pending inauguration of a Republican governor who campaigned on the issue, reports the Daily Record’s Bryan Sears.

PENSION TASK FORCE: Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan said he will not extend the life of a task force created to recommend whether to set up a pension system for private-sector employees. Hogan, who will take office on Jan. 21, declined to say what he planned to do with a report that is being worked on by the task force, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

OBAMA, HOGAN TO MEET: President Barack Obama will meet with Maryland Gov.-elect Larry Hogan on Friday to discuss the ways that the administration can partner with states on economic issues, the White House said Tuesday.The White House meeting will also include the newly elected governors of Alaska, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas, writes John Fritze for the Sun. Vice President Joe Biden will also attend.

PHOSPHORUS REGS: In Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s speech during Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver’s swearing in Tuesday, he said “Wicomico County and the Eastern Shore will no longer be ignored,” reports Phil Davis in the Salisbury Daily Times. “We’re going to fight against these phosphorus management regulations,” Hogan said.

FILM TAX CREDIT DEBATE: The benefit of extending Maryland’s film production tax credit were debated Tuesday as state lawmakers heard testimony from supporters of the credit, writes Alexis Webb for MarylandReporter.com. “To turn our backs on all the efforts made by the General Assembly would be devastating,” said Hannah Byron, assistant secretary for Tourism, Film & the Arts of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

COMMUTING DEATH SENTENCES: Time is running out for Gov. Martin O’Malley to decide whether or not to commute Maryland’s four remaining death sentences before he leaves office in January. WYPR’s Fraser Smith and Christopher Connelly talk about why the state’s repeal of the death penalty in 2013 created complicated legal questions for both O’Malley and the courts.

INSIDE GANG PRISON: The way Tavon White describes it, being sent to the Baltimore City Detention Center was no reason for Black Guerrilla Family gang members to stop hustling. The Sun’s Justin Fenton writes that key to keeping the money flowing, however, was recruiting corrections officers to smuggle tobacco, marijuana, prescription pills and cell phones into the jail. The officers were also needed to transport the items from one section of the jail to the other, and to help tip inmates to looming “shakedowns.”

CABINET APPOINTMENTS UPCOMING: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan said he will make some appointments to his administration before Christmas, perhaps as early as next week. “We’re not in a hurry,” Hogan told reporters Tuesday. Hogan named 31 more members of his transition team, bringing the grand total to 60, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. It is not exactly clear what all the members of the teams will be doing.

GEARING UP TO LOBBY: As the Annapolis lobbying corps prepares for the arrival of Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R), one firm headed by three principals steeped in Democratic politics is adding a fourth partner with national Republican ties. Capitol Strategies will soon announce the addition of Todd Lamb, who served as a senior policy adviser on education in the administration of President George W. Bush before his arrival in Annapolis a decade ago — during the tenure of Maryland’s last Republican governor, reports John Wagner in the Post.

EHRLICH MULLS RUN FOR PRES: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich is the third person with Maryland ties to express interest in a White House bid. Gov. Martin O’Malley, the Democrat who defeated Ehrlich in the 2006 and 2010 gubernatorial elections, has been traveling to primary states and is raising money for a potential campaign. And Dr. Ben Carson, a former pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, has developed a following with his books on America and appearances in conservative media.

  • Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich was at his son’s baseball tournament in South Carolina when he got an email that sparked presidential aspirations. The email invited Ehrlich to a September speaking engagement in New Hampshire. He said people at the event reacted well to his “blunt brand of politics,” his emphasis on criminal justice reform and his attacks on “Obama-ism,” writes Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital.

O’MALLEY’S ENVIRONMENTAL LEGACY: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM hosts a panel of environmental experts, including Tim Wheeler of the Sun, Joanna Diamond of Environment Maryland, Mitch Jones of Food & Water Watch and David  Vanko, chairman of the Maryland Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative Advisory Commission to talk about Gov. O’Malley’s environmental legacy.

O’MALLEY AIDE HEADS TO RHODE ISLAND: Stephen Neuman, a key aide to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), has accepted a job as chief of staff to Rhode Island’s incoming governor, Gina Raimondo. Neuman’s departure comes as O’Malley’s eight-year tenure in Annapolis winds down, and he weighs whether to move forward with a 2016 White House bid, writes John Wagner for the Post.

LEGGETT TARGETS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Economic development will be a focus of the next four years under Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, who on Monday introduced a six-point plan for the county’s economic future, writes Kate Alexander for the Gazette.