February 9, 2015

State Roundup, February 9, 2015

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SENATE DELAYS CABINET OKS: The Maryland Senate delayed confirmation votes Friday on five of Gov. Larry Hogan’s Cabinet nominees, a move that some Democrats say was intended to show displeasure at a speech by the Republican criticizing how the state operated during the tenure of his Democratic predecessor, Martin O’Malley, reports John Wagner in the Post.

VANISHING BIPARTISANSHIP: Less than three weeks after the swearing-in of Gov. Larry Hogan brought two-party rule back to the capital, partisan feuding had returned as well. Glowing talk from the inauguration about working across the aisle suddenly seemed elusive, writes John Wagner in the Post.

HOGAN REACHES OUT: Gov. Larry Hogan, who has gotten off to a rocky start with Democratic legislative leaders, met privately Sunday with Senate President Mike Miller and has reached out to House Speaker Michael Busch about getting together this week, writes John Wagner of the Post.

SENATE PACKAGE: Kaustuv Basu of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that Maryland state senators will unveil their legislative package Tuesday morning at a news conference in Annapolis, according to an email from Senate President  Mike Miller’s office.

BALTIMORE CITY AGENDA: From police misconduct to food deserts, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake revealed details of the city’s legislative wish list Friday in Annapolis, Dave Collins reports for WBAL-TV.

PG FUNDING PRIORITIES: Among his list of marquee funding initiatives that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker on Friday gave to the county’s legislative delegation include a regional hospital center, the school system, the Purple Line and stormwater mitigation fees, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post.

Student art in tunnels

Student art from across Maryland is back on the walls of the tunnels that connect the House and Senate office buildings with the State House.

DEPORTATION REPRIEVE: In less than four months, President Barack Obama is due to roll out one of the most ambitious and controversial programs of his presidency: an effort to grant a reprieve from deportation for millions of adult immigrants living in the country illegally. Joseph Tanfani of the Sun reports that an estimated 55,000 people in Maryland are eligible to apply for the program, according to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute. And local immigration advocacy groups are beginning to gear up for the increase.

HOMELESS HOUSING VS SHELTER: As Maryland’s homeless situation becomes “especially dire,” the creation of affordable housing for the homeless would be cheaper than the cost of shelter efforts, Adam Schneider of Health Care for the Homeless told a Senate budget subcommittee Friday. Rebecca Lessner of MarylandReporter.com writes that Schneider said, “Shelters cost about $30 per person, per night. That’s $900 we are spending monthly to keep people homeless.”

CORPSE DESECRATION: Was it grave robbing, cemetery vandalism or something more serious that inspired a bill to criminalize desecration of human remains? “I think it has to do with a murder,” said state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, D-Baltimore City. CNS’s Anjali Shastry writes the story for the Daily Record.

CHOOSING REPLACEMENTS: In an editorial for the Sun, the editorial board addresses the issue of choosing replacements in the legislature and suggests that “the only real cure here is to take the question of who should represent the people away from the insiders, be they central committee members or the governor, and give it to the people by means of a special election.”

HOGAN REHASHED: Political pundit Barry Rascovar writes, in MarylandReporter.com, that just as Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State address was a ‘placeholder’ speech. … It sounded more like a re-hash of his campaign themes — as though his speech-writers slapped together a speech from the Hogan for Governor files. No wonder Republicans applauded and Democrats responded with seething silence.

LOTTERY REVENUES: The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency’s January revenue report from the state’s five casinos shows mixed performance. However, the January 2015 total was above the January 2014 by 28%, writes Patty Borda Mullins for the Frederick News Post.

OPEN MEETINGS TRAINING: More than 60 percent of the state’s local governments have not complied with a 2013 state law requiring training in Maryland’s Open Meetings Act., Jim Lee reports in the Carroll County Times. Monica Johnson, chairwoman of the state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board, said the numbers reveal there is “lots of room for improvement.”

PR 911: Former GOP operative Richard Cross, in an op-ed for the Frederick News Post, questions the “emergency PR” contract that new Gov. Larry Hogan voted against, writing, “being someone who has worked in politics as well as managed the work of external PR firms, for me the practice raises questions. First, absent a catastrophe like the deadly Union Carbide chemical spill in Bhopal, India, in 1984 or the infamous BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, is there ever an emergency reason for anyone to engage a public relations firm?”

CONWAY STILL HAS IT: Supporters of Maryland legislator Norm Conway could always count on getting face time — not to mention their fill of sweet tea — at his annual fundraiser. They gathered Sunday in the small community at the eastern edge of Wicomico County. And the now former Del. Conway demonstrated once again his political prowess, shaking nearly every hand in sight on his way toward raising $18,000 in a day. Conway had a different destination in mind: a newly created scholarship fund for college-bound students from the Salisbury area, writes Jeremy Cox for the Salisbury Times.

COMPETING FOR GRAD STUDENTS: At many universities, marketing and admissions officials are increasingly focusing their efforts on the graduate student population. That means recruiting potential grad students more aggressively and with different strategies than in the past, according to officials at several Maryland colleges, reports Alissa Gulin for the Daily Record.

SUPPORT FOR GRASSO: Rema Rahman of the Annapolis Capital writes that more than 75% of those responding to Arundel County Councilman John Grasso’s comment that people who live on low incomes and collect government assistance to make ends meet were bilking the system agreed with him. Only a dozen disagreed, according to documents received through a Public Information Act request.

KIRBY DELAUTER: Publishers Auxiliary, the publication of the National Newspaper Association, runs an article by Stanley Schwartz about the Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter’s internationally notorious public information faux pas and his subsequent apology to the Frederick News Post. It contains some interesting new information.

MUSEUM TAX BREAK: The foundation that operates Potomac billionaire Mitchell Rales’s private art museum is getting a $372,993 tax refund from Montgomery County. Bill Turque of the Post reports that the refund reflects a change approved by the County Council last week after officials decided it was unfair to tax a building that will house much of Rales’s art collection at the same rate as some commercial establishments.

MEET MRS. O: Kristina Peterson of the Wall Street Journal profiles an anomaly in Washington, D.C., legislative staffers. She’s a longtime staffer, now an octogenarian who is best known for her friendly persuasion. That person is Mrs. O — the mother of former Gov. Martin O’Malley — who has worked on Barbara Mikulski’s staff for 30 years.

CONVICTION APPEAL OK’D: The subject of the popular podcast “Serial” will be allowed to appeal his murder conviction, a Maryland court has ruled, a development that gives the man his best chance at a new trial or a change to his life sentence, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.