January 16, 2015

State Roundup, January 16, 2015

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POLICE BRUTALITY RALLIES: Hundreds of Marylanders joined noisy demonstrations at the State House in Annapolis and on downtown Baltimore streets Thursday to call for an end to police brutality and other misconduct. Mark Puente, Justin George and Colin Campbell write in the Sun that protesters packed a hearing room on the second day of the 2015 General Assembly session and vowed to monitor legislative proposals aimed at police misconduct.

CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATE SUPPORT RAIL LINES: Maryland’s nine federal Democratic legislators Thursday called on Larry Hogan to support the proposed Purple and Red Lines, two multi-billion rail projects that could be eliminated by the incoming Republican governor, the Daily Record’s Bryan Sears is reporting.

SCHOOL FUNDING: Topping Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s wish list for this year’s Maryland General Assembly session is a renewed commitment for $1.1 billion in school construction and a pledge to keep the Red Line light rail project on track. Yvonne Wenger and Pamela Wood of the Sun report that like the mayor, leaders of other jurisdictions said they were focused on pushing for as much state funding as possible — and expressed concern over possible budget cuts that could trickle down to the local level.

HEALTH PROGRAM CUTS: Alissa Gulin of the Daily Record reports that when Gov. Martin O’Malley shaved $410 million from the state budget last week, health care programs were dealt several blows that disappointed some advocates and workers, particularly in the form of withdrawn promises of salary increases for some groups. All state agencies were affected by O’Malley’s last-minute reductions, which he said were necessary in order to address a serious budget deficit. But some said they’re disappointed because they believe O’Malley singled them out.

CUSTOMER-ORIENTED GOVERNMENT: Speaking to more than 200 members of the Maryland Economic Development Association, Gov.-elect Larry Hogan and General Assembly top leaders pledged to deliver to Maryland’s business community a customer service-oriented state bureaucracy and regulatory agencies whose role “will not be to punish job creators, but to work with them to find ways to get the job done so that everyone wins,” writes Don Fry for Center Maryland.

HOGAN BACKS FRANCHOT ISSUE: The movement to require Maryland public schools to wait until after Labor Day to start classes picked up steam Thursday when it gained support from Gov.-elect Larry Hogan, writes Liz Bowie and Michael Dresser in the Sun. Hogan joined Comptroller Peter Franchot, the state’s No. 1 cheerleader for a later school start, at a news conference to add his name to a petition to start school on the Tuesday after the holiday.

BRINKLEY TO HEAD BUDGET: In one of Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s most anticipated appointments, he has named David  Brinkley, a longtime Republican legislator from Frederick County, to lead the Department of Budget and Management, writes Jenna Johnson for the Post.

ACLU QUESTIONS HUTCHINS APPOINTMENT: The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland raised concerns Wednesday about Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s choice of former Maryland State Police Superintendent Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins to head the state’s homeland security office, pointing to the surveillance and infiltration of protest groups when he led the agency.

SCHULZ RESIGNS: Del. Kelly Schulz on Wednesday handed in her letter of resignation from the state legislature, announcing that she will step down from her post Jan. 21, reports Bethany Rodgers in the Frederick News Post. Schulz is leaving her role as delegate to start work as secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

PARROTT, SERAFINI WANT SHANK’S JOB: Del. Neil Parrott said Thursday that he intends to be a candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Christopher Shank next week, reports Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. Parrott joins Del. Andrew Serafini, who is also the chairman of the delegation, in seeking the seat that will be vacated with Gov.-elect Larry Hogan’s appointment of Shank as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

JUMP-STARTING CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW: Although now would be a really great time to re-invigorate the state’s campaign finance law, don’t bet on it, writes political pundit Frazer Smith for WYPR-FM.

O’MALLEY BIDS FAREWELL TO GA: Gov. Martin O’Malley made his final address to the General Assembly on Thursday, praising the lieutenant governor he had hoped would succeed him and reminding lawmakers that, regardless of party affiliation, “we are all in this together,” reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

Brown Miller omalley

Bidding farewell to the Maryland Senate Thursday are Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, left, with Gov. Martin O’Malley, left, and Senate President Mike Miller at center.

EYE ON CAESARS: The Baltimore Sun is reporting that state regulators said Thursday that they will be closely following Thursday’s bankruptcy filing by a cash-strapped division of casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corp. to ensure that operations at Horseshoe Casino Baltimore remain stable.

HARRIS TAPPED FOR SUBCOMMITTEES: Rep. Andy Harris, R-1st-Md., was appointed to two subcommittees that oversee negotiations of federal funding to government agencies, reports Phil Davis for the Salisbury Daily Times. The congressman will now serve on both the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies as well as the Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

SICK LEAVE ABUSE:  The fire battalion chief from Montgomery County, a 26-year veteran, shared the news of his retirement on Facebook. “Today was my ‘unofficial’ last day of work,” he wrote on Dec. 19, 2013. “From this point I’ll be burning leave until the very end.” Abuse of sick leave is fairly common among Montgomery County fire personnel who are about the retire, reports the Post’s Bill Turque.

CAMPAIGN SIGN ASSAULT: A Whiteford man, known for his photography and as a host of sports radio shows in the region, could serve nearly 15 years in prison for assaulting a former neighbor in October 2013 over missing campaign signs, although his attorney is trying to get the sentence modified, David Anderson writes in the Aegis.