January 5, 2015

State Roundup, January 5, 2015

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PREDICTING 2015: Post columnist Robert McCartney takes another shot at prognosticating for the D.C. area for 2015, despite last year’s stumble that Maryland would not elect a Republican to the governor’s mansion. Ooops. Well, take a look at this year’s guesses.

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES: The New Year belongs to the victors, like Gov.-elect Larry Hogan. But reality will set in quickly once hard, unappetizing choices pit campaign pledges against on-the-ground reality, writes columnist Barry Rascovar for MarylandReporter.com.

HOGAN TACKLES GIFTS & ETHICS: Larry Hogan’s staff members say they are assessing and cataloguing the cache of presents, making sure they properly follow state ethics laws so as not to get in trouble over an unsolicited lacrosse T-shirt or other keepsake. Gifts can be a minefield for elected leaders, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post.

HOGAN VISITS ALLEGANY: Just 17 days away from dropping the caveat on his governor-elect title, Larry Hogan visited Allegany County on Sunday, thanking the voters that overwhelmingly supported him in his run to head Maryland’s government, writes Michael Sawyers for the Cumberland Times News.

HOGAN VISITS WA CO: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan thanked Washington County supporters Sunday for his successful run for governor, said rural Maryland has been neglected and promised to change that after he’s sworn in this month, writes Julie Greene for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

Hogan williamsport fire hall thank you

Gov.-elect Larry Hogan visits the Williamsport Fire Hall in Washington County on Sunday as part of his ongoing Thank You tour of the state. (Photo from Change Maryland Facebook)

CAMPAIGN FINANCING: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that finding a way to replenish the program that funded the gubernatorial campaigns of Democratic Del. Heather Mizeur and Republican Gov.-elect Larry Hogan will top the wish list of those who advocate for limiting the effect of special-interest money in state elections.

DNA COLLECTION: Maryland’s top court will again examine the scope of law enforcement’s authority to collect and test a criminal suspect’s DNA without a warrant, writes Steve Lash for the Daily Record. The Court of Appeals has agreed to hear whether Anne Arundel County police violated a homeless man’s constitutional rights by using his DNA sample to connect him to a burglary, though he had only consented to the collection to clear him of an alleged rape.

RECONSTRUCTING HISTORY: Mark Croatti flips open The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the American Presidency and does not like what he sees. Nowhere does the book mention the presidents who came before George Washington, the ones who led the nation under the Articles of Confederation — some when Annapolis briefly served as the nation’s capital. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that an Annapolis center highlights the less-known history between American Revolution and Constitution.

SMIGIEL WORKS TO THE LAST: Del. Michael Smigiel  sat at his cluttered desk in his downtown Elkton law office Monday, Dec. 22, and leafed through drafts of about 10 legislative bills that he has penned, hoping they make their way into law after the General Assembly convenes in January. Smigiel, however, will not be able to introduce those bills. That’s because Smigiel, a Chesapeake City-area resident, lost to Jeff Ghrist, of Caroline County, by 144 votes in the Republican primary in June.  Carl Hamilton of the Easton Star Democrat writes how Smigiel continues to work up to the last minute.

COLBURN REFLECTS: After 28 years representing citizens who live on the Mid-Shore, 64-year-old Richard Colburn is seeing his political career in Annapolis come to a close. Throughout his career, Colburn worked to remain steadfast in what he called one of the most important assets a legislator could have — constituent service. Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat writes the article.

DEL. MILLER ON THE ELECTION: Del. Warren Miller, a Republican from Howard County, visits Center Maryland to talk about what he saw and heard from Maryland’s voters during the fall campaign and November election. He also discusses what that means for Maryland going forward.

CARROLL WORK GROUP CONTROVERSY: Wiley Hayes of the Carroll County Times reports that Carroll 2030, a work group put together by Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, and its conclusions on how best to prepare the county for success in the coming years have become the subject of controversy. Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, said though the work may have some value, Carroll 2030 is a redundancy, potentially biased and possibly offensive to some of his constituents; however, members of the work group and fellow commissioners don’t quite see it that way.

Martin Omalley at desk in the State House

Gov. Martin O’Malley at his desk in the State House. The photo accompanied the announcement of his “Letters to Maryland” on his Facebook page.

O’MALLEY BLOGS: With less than three weeks remaining in his tenure,  Gov. Martin O’Malley has launched a new blog on which he is posting in rapid-fire succession “a series of essays, letters to new leaders and reflections.” John Wagner writes in the Post that the blog, titled “Letters to the People of Maryland,” went live on New Year’s Day and includes a hodgepodge of photos, charts, statistics and writings about various aspects of the governor’s eight years in office and other things on his mind.

HEALTH EXCHANGE CONFUSION: The outrage was swift and loud. Millions of people were feared to be in danger of losing their health insurance last year because their plans did not comply with the Affordable Care Act. To keep people covered and quell consumer anger, President Barack Obama and many states allowed people to renew their old plans temporarily — including 73,000 in Maryland. But that offer has expired and now people like Raymond Liu have been thrust onto health exchanges where they must purchase new plans. Many are finding higher premiums or less coverage, reports Meredith Cohn for the Sun.