May 15, 2015

State Roundup, May 15, 2015

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NO TO SCHOOLS; YES TO PENSIONS: Gov. Larry Hogan stood his ground against increased education funding for next year’s budget, refusing to add $68 million more legislators had set aside for school aid to the $6.1 billion he had already budgeted for public schools, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. But ultimately he surrendered to lawmakers’ wishes that he fully fund the Geographic Cost of Education Index in future years. He said he would allow a bill forcing him to fund the GCEI to become law without his signature because he could not get the votes to sustain his veto.

PURPLE LINE PLEA: The top political leaders of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will meet Gov. Larry Hogan next Thursday to make a final plea for the light-rail Purple Line, Senate President Mike Miller said Thursday. Bill Turque of the Post reports that Miller, who said he arranged the meeting, said Hogan told him he would make a decision on the Purple Line within two weeks.

E-ZPASS PLAN MAY BE UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that a recently approved proposal to eliminate monthly charges for in-state commuters using E-ZPass may run afoul of the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Last week, state transportation officials voted to eliminate a $1.50 per month charge for  675,000 state residents with Maryland E-ZPass accounts while leaving the charge for out-of-state residents who have state accounts unless they use a Maryland toll road or bridge at least three times a month.

BIAS IN BAIL HEARINGS: Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM speaks with Todd Oppenheim, a felony trial attorney in the Office of the Public Defender, about his recent op-ed for the Baltimore Brew titled, “The bias in Baltimore bail hearings: a presumption of guilt.”

DELEGATE MAY RUN FOR CONGRESS: Del. David Vogt says he is considering a run for Congress, Jen Fifield reports for the Frederick News Post. Vogt wants to help Republicans take back Maryland’s 6th District congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, he said. Republican Roscoe Bartlett owned the seat for 20 years until the 2012 election, when Democrat John Delaney won.

RESCUING AMERICAN HOSTAGES: U.S. Rep. John Delaney’s proposal to appoint a senior official with responsibility for rescuing Americans captured by terrorists overseas will move forward as part of a Defense Department funding measure, writes Ian Duncan for the Sun. The House of Representatives agreed to tack the provision onto the spending bill by a voice vote Thursday evening.

O’MALLEY SIGNS OFFICE LEASE: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley will announce a decision on a run for the presidency at an event in Baltimore on May 30, and is planning to sign a lease today for office space across from Penn Station. Erin Cox of the Sun reports that O’Malley discussed his thinking during a conference call with longtime supporters Thursday night.

DIXON WEIGHS COMEBACK: Former Baltimore City Mayor Sheila Dixon wants her old job back and is seriously considering running again for Baltimore mayor. If Dixon does run, it would be a direct challenge to current Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a primary less than a year from now. Dixon speaks with Vic Carter of WJZ-TV. Scroll down to watch the video.

COUNCILMAN CAN BID ON PROJECTS: Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter can now bid on and win Frederick County government capital improvement projects on behalf of his private company without violating the county’s ethics ordinance, reports Jen Fifield for the Frederick News Post. Delauter, who owns W.F. Delauter & Son, had previously been told by the Frederick County Ethics Commission that he would be in violation of the ordinance if he bid on and won the projects when he was a county commissioner, but under the new charter form of government, there is no longer a conflict, the commission decided in an opinion issued Tuesday.

EX COUNTY EXEC FRONT-RUNNER TO MANAGE CRISFIELD: Former Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt is the favored choice to be the new Crisfield city manager, Deborah Gates reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. Crisfield Mayor Kim Lawson plans to meet with the hopeful today to negotiate a contract, that if agreed upon, would pave the way to seat the city’s first chief executive since 2010.