January 20, 2015

State Roundup, January 20, 2015

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MID-TERM TUITION HIKES: Local universities are responding to a $40 million budget shortfall for higher education with a mid-year tuition hike at Salisbury University and an extended hiring freeze at both SU and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Deborah Gates of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that both universities also plan to suspend maintenance or facility upgrades, although neither are halting major construction projects.

MUM ON STATE CENTER: Kevin Litten of the Baltimore Business Journal tries to nail down the views of Baltimore City’s General Assembly delegation on the proposed State Center project and has very little luck.

RENEWABLE MANDATE: Advocates for increasing the amount of renewable energy used in Maryland say they are confident this is their year to pass a bill that would double the state requirement to 40% by 2025, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN CHALLENGE: Steve Lash of the Daily Record is reporting that the legal lines have been drawn for an early spring battle before a federal appeals court over the constitutionality of a Maryland law banning certain assault-style weapons and ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds.

BAY GROUP FIGHTS STATE PERMITS: An environmental group is planning to go to court over Frederick County’s new stormwater permit, a document it claims is “too vague,” reports Bethany Rodgers for the Frederick News Post. The nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Monday announced its intention to challenge a group of state-issued permits, including the one provided to Frederick County in December. These lawsuits are not aimed at the counties themselves but will rather argue that the Maryland Department of the Environment didn’t clearly spell out the responsibilities assigned to the jurisdictions.

GOVERN LIKE CHRISTIE? Gordon MacInnes of New Jersey Policy Perspective writes in an op-ed for the Sun that Gov.-elect Larry Hogan has given New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a special place in his inaugural ceremony this week, testifying to his gratitude for Christie’s work on behalf of Hogan’s underdog campaign. A nice gesture, to be sure. But here is a warning to the people of Maryland: Hope that your new governor does not lean on New Jersey’s governor for guidance on what to do once in office.

GOVERN LIKE EHRLICH? Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland compares and contrasts Larry Hogan and Bob Ehrlich, the latest two Republican governors of Maryland who are just 18 months apart in age but a world apart in background and temperament.

State House for inauguration

Lawyer’s Mall is ready for Wednesday’s inaugural. (From Larry Hogan’s new Facebook page)

GOOD GILL CHOICE: Political pundit Barry Rascovar, writing in his politicalmaryland.com blog, says that for Gov.-elect Larry Hogan there’s no more important cabinet appointment than secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development. So there was a lot riding on last week’s choice of R. Michael Gill as DBED secretary. The response to date: overwhelmingly positive and complimentary. Hogan seems to have picked a winner.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT CHIEF: Gov.-elect Larry Hogan on Thursday appointed Talbot County’s Clay Stamp as the director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat. Stamp has been director of the Talbot County Department of Emergency Services since 2009.

CECIL IN SPOTLIGHT: More than 200 people attended Cecil Night in Annapolis last Thursday, said state Sen. Stephen Hershey (R-Upper Shore). Cheryl Mattix of the Cecil Whig reports that he greeted the crowd on behalf of the Cecil County delegation. “We’re here to do our jobs and represent Cecil County,” Hershey said, adding, “Gov.-elect Hogan couldn’t be here tonight, but he thanks Cecil County for giving him 78% of the vote.”

O’MALLEY’S LEGACY: Gov. Martin O’Malley called a heating company recently to set up an account for the family’s new house in Baltimore City. The woman on the line asked for his last name. “O’Malley,” he replied, “like the outgoing governor.” “Ah, yes,” she said, “the tax man.” The exchange, recounted on O’Malley’s blog, was a stark reminder that after eight years of setting and implementing one of the most progressive agendas in the nation, O’Malley is known in Maryland for something else entirely: raising taxes, writes John Wagner for the Post.

BROWN’S NEXT MOVE: After largely dropping out of sight for two months, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, a retired Army reservist, re-emerged last week in the familiar role of loyal soldier. He joined Gov.-elect Larry Hogan in greeting lawmakers as they returned to Annapolis for the start of their annual legislative session, writes John Wagner in the Post. Brown said he is weighing several job options that would make use of his training as a lawyer and did not rule out another run for elected office.

PUGH, GROSS AT STATE OF UNION: State Sen. Catherine Pugh and recently freed aid worker Alan Gross have been invited by the White House to sit with first lady Michelle Obama Tuesday during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, reports Matthew Hay Brown in the Sun.

THE IMPACT OF ARTS: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com reviews The Whale, a professional play production performed at Howard Community College. According to the state Arts Council’s latest report, he writes, the arts have $1 billion impact on the state, but the budget for the council is $16 million, with $10 million of that going to hundreds of nonprofit arts organizations throughout Maryland, from art museum and orchestras, to theaters and dance companies.

LEGGETT ON POLICE INCIDENT: On Nov. 3, the night before his re-election to a third term as Montgomery County’s first African-American executive, Ike Leggett was hassled by a Park Police officer near a polling place in Silver Spring. The incident occurred just months after the deaths of two African-American men at the hands of white police officers in New York City and Ferguson, Mo., had ignited a nationwide debate over police-minority group relations. Louis Peck of Bethesda Magazine spoke with Leggett about his recent experience and discussed his views on the state of police-community relations locally.

DACEK REMEMBERED: Bill Turque of the Post writes about Nancy Dacek, the former three-term Montgomery County Council member (1990-2002) who died last week at age 81. She was keenly aware of her status as one of an endangered political species, he writes. “I’m one of a vanishing breed, I guess,” she once told The Washington Post, “a moderate Republican.”