April 1, 2015

State Roundup, April 1, 2015

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HOGAN’S CHARTER BILL DOESN’T FLY: Erin Cox reports in the Sun that a  Senate panel on Tuesday voted to send a dismantled version of Gov. Larry Hogan’s charter school expansion law to the full chamber.The Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee adopted a highly amended version of the bill, which the committee rewrote last week pending final approval.

STORMWATER FEE HEARING: A Maryland House of Delegates committee has scheduled a hearing Wednesday on a bill that would repeal mandated stormwater management fees imposed on homeowners and businesses in Baltimore City and nine Maryland counties, John Rydell reports for WBFF-TV.

BIZ CLIMATE CHANGE: Efforts to make Maryland more business friendly, reduce the burden of regulations, improve customer service and even cut taxes and paperwork for many small businesses advanced in the state Senate Tuesday, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. Several of the proposals came from a commission formed by the Senate president and House speaker to improve Maryland’s business climate, and the tax cut was a scaled back version of a proposal from Gov. Larry Hogan.

BIZ REG COUNCIL: The Maryland Senate voted on Tuesday to create an advisory council to review new state regulations and assess their impact on small businesses — despite warnings from some Democrats that the panel could make the regulatory process more drawn-out and bureaucratic, Jenna Johnson writes in the Post.

PUBLIC INFORMATION BILL:  Stricter enforcement of the Maryland Public Information Act might be on the way with a bill establishing a panel to oversee fees state agencies charge to respond to requests for information reports Anjali Shastry of CNS in the Daily Record. The panel would consist of five Marylanders, at least one of whom is a lawyer, who apply for the position and are appointed by the governor.

PENSION STRESS TEST:  A bill introduced by Sen. Andrew Serafini requiring a “stress test” of the state’s pension system is making steady progress in the Maryland General Assembly. The Senate unanimously approved the bill, and it was heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday reports Kaustav Basu in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

OPEN SPACE DEBATE: The Maryland Senate is debating budget priorities as it considers a program to help Maryland’s rural counties with an Open Space Incentive Program that could cost between $3.5 million and $15 million, Rebecca Lessner of MarylandReporter reports. The debate over Program Open Space on the Senate floor Tuesday morning most likely stemmed from its potential high cost, which was dramatically reduced with the addition of four new amendments that morning.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY’S SHARE OF SCHOOL FUND: Kate S. Alexander reports in the Gazette that if Maryland establishes a $20 million school construction grant fund for growing school systems, Montgomery County could get about $6 million of the pie. Maryland’s House Appropriations Committee on Friday passed legislation to establish a $20 million capital grant fund for school systems with high enrollment growth or portable classrooms.

TAXES DOWN IN THE DUMPS: A bill that could grant a tax break to neighbors of Baltimore County’s landfill in White Marsh passed the House Tuesday, over opposition from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz writes Timothy Wheeler in the Sun. The measure, approved 130 to 6, would let the county grant a property tax credit to as many as 104 homeowners living near the landfill.

INDIANA BAN: Sen. Richard Madaleno called Tuesday for a ban on state-funded travel to Indiana in response to a controversial new law that critics say opens the door for businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, including against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community writes Kevin Rector in the Annapolis Capital.

TWEET-GATE: The nomination of a prominent Montgomery County Republican to the Maryland Public Service Commission stalled in the General Assembly on Monday night as some senators privately wondered how a series of years-old partisan tweets might have affected his confirmation, Bill Turque and Ovetta Wiggins write in the Post.

POOLE MAY HEAD DEMS: The Maryland Democratic Party is expected to turn to Bruce Poole, a moderate former delegate from Western Maryland, as its next chairman as it seeks to rebuild after a devastating loss in last year’s gubernatorial race. Several highly placed party activists said Poole, a former majority leader in the House of Delegates, is the consensus choice to replace Yvette Lewis as party chair at an executive committee meeting Thursday night, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun.

VAN HOLLEN’S COFFERS: John Fritze reports in the Sun that in the latest indication he is moving rapidly to head off potential challengers in Maryland’s Senate race, Rep. Chris Van Hollen will report raising $1.2 million in the first quarter of this year, his campaign said Wednesday.

EXELON/PEPCO: The Montgomery County Council urged the Maryland Public Service Commission Tuesday to get more concessions from Exelon Corp. to protect ratepayers and promote clean energy before approving the company’s proposed merger with Pepco, Bill Turque reports in the Post.

O’MALLEY’S STILL OUT THERE: After taking a swipe at Hillary Rodham Clinton on national television over the weekend, Martin O’Malley offered a softer sell in Bedford, N.H., Tuesday as he appeared at a breakfast considered a rite of passage for potential presidential candidates, John Wagner reports for the Post.

  • The former Maryland governor criticized 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls while in New Hampshire on Tuesday writes Kathleen Ronayne of the AP in the Annapolis Capital. Several have expressed support for the law, which prevents the state from restricting the ability of people and businesses to express their religious beliefs. Opponents say the law will allow businesses to refuse service to people, based on sexual orientation.