January 29, 2015

State Roundup, January 29, 2015

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HOGAN SHOCKS AT BPW: Gov. Larry Hogan’s first action as the new chairman of Maryland’s Board of Public Works was to refuse to approve an “emergency” contract for public relations services. Hogan’s disapproval of the $40,000 contract sent a clear message he intends to make changes in the way some state agencies buy goods and services. Board secretary Sheila McDonald said the effect of the action was to let the vendor be paid while sending a rebuke to the agency, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

HOGAN, THE EARLY DAYS: Columnist Laslo Boyd of Center Maryland addresses a few of the early problems Gov. Hogan is facing as he attempts to lead the state down a path of his own choosing, including the structural deficit.

HOGAN & THE BAY: A key Maryland lawmaker is calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to say what he’ll do about Eastern Shore farm pollution now that he’s withdrawn O’Malley administration regulations. Tim Wheeler reports in the Sun that Del. Kumar Barve, chairman of the House Environment and Transportation Committee, wrote Hogan expressing concern over the governor’s decision to halt rules that would have prevented Shore farmers from spreading phosphorus-rich poultry manure on fields already saturated with the polluting nutrient.

OPEN-MINDED ON RAIL PROJECTS: Maryland’s new transportation chief promised senators Wednesday that he will keep an open mind as he considers whether the state should go ahead with two major light rail projects, including Baltimore City’s Red Line, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun.

LESS FOR LOCAL ROADS: The priority for county and municipal officials in Maryland is the restoration of highway user revenues used to build local roads, but Gov. Larry Hogan is actually giving them $16 million less in his budget, despite promises to restore it during his campaign, MarylandReporter’s Rebecca Lessner writes.

3 O’MALLEY INITIATIVES MOVE FORWARD: Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that he would allow three late-hour regulations drafted by his Democratic predecessor to move forward, including a measure that prohibits discrimination in the state Medicaid program on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, writes John Wagner of the Post.

SCHUH ON HOGAN BUDGET: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh sat down to talk about Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget and how it might influence the county. Chase Cook writes the story for the Annapolis Capital.

Comptroller Peter Franchot presents one of the specially minted coins to Elizabeth Weglein, president of the United Seniors of Maryland. (The coins can't be used to pay taxes.) Hundreds of senior citizens came to Annapolis to lobby legislators in their annual forum. Franchot spent most of his short talk to the seniors discussing end-of-life issues and the book "On Being Mortal."

Comptroller Peter Franchot presents one of his specially minted coins to Elizabeth Weglein, president of the United Seniors of Maryland. (The coins can’t be used to pay taxes.) Hundreds of senior citizens came to Annapolis to lobby legislators in their annual forum. Franchot spent most of his short talk to the seniors discussing end-of-life issues and the book “On Being Mortal.”

 

POLICE IN SCHOOLS: Del. John Cluster, a Baltimore County Republican and former police officer, is hoping that his bill to put an armed officer in every public school will prevent a shooting like the ones at Columbine or Sandy Hook. A House committee held a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, according to the AP’s Meredith Somers. The article appears on WBFF-TV website.

CHARTER SCHOOL PROPOSAL: Deirdre McPhillips of CNS, in a story in the Easton Star Democrat, writes about the controversy surrounding a charter schools proposal that would take their governance away from local education boards. In justifying the action, Kara Kerwin, president of a national organization that supports freedom of choice in charter schools, said, “It’s like McDonald’s seeking to get approval from Burger King to open a new restaurant.”

MCDONOUGH WANTS DEATH PENALTY: Calling it a first step toward fully restoring the death penalty in Maryland, Del. Pat McDonough said he plans to introduce a bill that would mandate capital punishment for anyone convicted of killing a police or correctional officer, a firefighter or witness during the performance of their duty, Tim Wheeler is reporting in the Sun.

LEGISLATIVE VACANCIES: Gov. Larry Hogan told Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com Wednesday morning that he expected to have a meeting later in the day to discuss appointments, including the filling of three vacancies in the legislature he caused by naming two senators and a delegate to posts within his administration.

WAGE PROTECTION LAW: A vaguely drafted employment contract between a Maryland lawyer and a Virginia law firm gave Maryland’s top court the opportunity to say the state’s wage-protection law safeguards Marylanders working for out-of-state companies regardless of where their contract was signed. But a definitive ruling to that effect must wait for another case, the Court of Appeals added in a reported opinion, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record.

MADALENO BLASTS MO CO SCHOOL BOARD: As reports of Montgomery Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr’s likely departure circulated Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, vice-chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee and an important advocate for county school funding, has already weighed in, thrashing Board of Education members for putting “personal passions” over signs of progress in their refusal to renew Starr’s contract, writes Bill Turque in the Post.

AA HIRES GOP STRATEGIST: Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams has announced that he has hired one of the county’s top Republican political strategists as an assistant state’s attorney. Lawrence Scott has been hired at a $67,500 salary as a part-time administrator in the office, writes Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.

MUZZLING THE PUBLIC: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times is urging the Carroll County Board of Commissioners to reconsider its decision to impose limitations on residents speaking out during the public comment portion of meetings. The board last week approved an amendment restricting people to talking only about issues the commissioners are dealing with. Residents bringing up ethical concerns and personal attacks were apparently a concern among some of the board members.

REMEMBERING COMMISSIONER MANN: Few Carroll County commissioners have been as dedicated to their constituents the way Roger Mann was, according to his former colleague Ned Cueman. Cueman, the county’s planning director from 1971 to 1995, said though Mann accomplished a lot during his two-term tenure from 1974-1982, he will be remembered most for his work ethic and his devotion to those who elected him. Mann died Tuesday at a retirement community in Hanover, Pa., writes Wiley Hayes for the Carroll County Times.

CITY COUNCILMAN WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION: Longtime Baltimore City Councilman James Kraft has announced that he will not seek re-election to his Southeast Baltimore seat but intends to appear on the 2016 primary ballot for a yet-to-be-announced position, Yvonne Wenger writes in the Sun.