May 20, 2015

State Roundup, May 20, 2015

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SPENDING DECISIONS: Twice in the past few days, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has declared that he won’t spend money as the Democratic-controlled legislature prescribed in the budget, and will instead spend it for causes he favors. But, writes Timothy Wheeler in the Sun, he cannot legally make such funding switches over the General Assembly’s objections, according to the Maryland attorney general’s office and other legislative experts.

  • Money cut from Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts won’t be used to reopen the state police barrack in Annapolis by this fall, reports Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital. Instead the state police will have to come up with the money from its current budget, a figure that dropped this week from a projected $1.4 million to as little as $500,000. “We believe they can accommodate it,” said David Brinkley, state secretary of budget and management. “If they end up with a deficiency, we will work with that.”

SENATE PANELS MEET ON TOLL CUTS: State transportation officials have been called to Annapolis to brief the Senate’s two fiscal committees on a plan to roll back tolls and fees for Maryland motorists, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The Senate Finance and Budget and Taxation committees sent a letter Tuesday requesting the hearing nearly two weeks after the Maryland Transportation Authority Board approved a $54 million plan to reduce tolls and fees to motorists. Legislators have expressed concerns about a lack of public transparency related to the plan and fears that previously planned infrastructure projects might be delayed or eliminated as a result of the reductions.

HUNGER-FREE KIDS: Through expanding a free meals program, legislators hope to come up with a simple solution for the complex question of enhancing student performance. The Hunger Free Schools Act, HB 965, was signed into law last week by Gov. Hogan, writes Rebecca Lessner for MarylandReporter.com. According to Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, schools in 22 counties and the City of Baltimore may now qualify for free breakfast and lunches without risking a loss of state funding.

SHACKLE-FREE KIDS: Maryland public defender Paul B. DeWolfe, in an op-ed for the Sun, calls for an end to the wholesale practice of shackling children who are offenders, writing that in 34 states, including Maryland, there are no limits placed on shackling in juvenile courts. In Maryland, kids as young as 7 may face juvenile charges. Most states have no minimum age. So across the country, elementary school kids can and do appear in court in chains. The vast majority of juvenile cases are misdemeanors.

3 ATTYS ON OPEN MEETINGS BOARD: Three attorneys were selected to fill vacancies on the Open Meetings Compliance Board by Gov. Larry Hogan. The appointments fill key vacancies that crippled the board and delayed decisions on complaints related to government agencies, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

LEOBOR THEN AND NOW: Kenneth Burns of WYPR-FM looks into the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, which then-Gov. Marvin Mandel signed into law with little fanfare in 1974. What was it intended to do, how does it work now and where does it go from here?

LAZARICK ON POLITICAL PULSE: MarylandReporter.com’s editor and publisher Len Lazarick spent a half hour last week talking with Charles Duffy on Political Pulse, the long-running Montgomery County cable show. Here’s video. The topics include Gov. Larry Hogan, school aid, tax and toll cuts, the Purple Line and the U.S. Senate race.

ENVIRONMENTAL UPDATE ON HOGAN: Updating MarylandReporter.com’s earlier story on the governor’s rating from an environmental group, the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ 100 day assessment of Gov. Hogan’s environmental actions gives the administration positive marks on such issues as phosphorus management tool regulations and environmental appointments, and negative marks for a power plant emissions law withdrawal and budget reductions for key agencies.

TEACHING TEACHERS & GOV. HOGAN: Josh Kurtz looks at the way environmental groups have sidled up to Gov. Hogan, even though that sidling may be temporary, compared with the way teachers have not. Kurtz suggests that teachers could learn a thing or two or three from the environmentalists and Hogan would do well to remember — and avoid — the mess his former boss, Gov. Bob Ehrlich created for himself.

MARYLAND JOINS COMPLAINT: Gov. Larry Hogan and the Office of the Secretary of State, which approves the certification of Maryland’s 10,000 charities, announced Tuesday that the state will join the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and other state law enforcement officials in a complaint charging multiple cancer charities with defrauding more than $187 million from donors, according to a report in the Daily Record.

ILLEGAL CATCH: A St. Mary’s waterman said Monday that a raid last week on a fishing boat owned by a family member left as many as 10,000 pounds from their catch dead writes John Wharton for the St. Mary’s Enterprise. Maryland Natural Resources Police report that about 3,500 pounds, or 25%, of the 14,000 pounds of croaker in the McKenzie Leigh on the morning of Tuesday, May 12, were found to be undersized, during the law officers’ investigation of the boat’s cargo at a pier in a Patuxent River tributary.

PLANNING SECRETARY IN ELKTON: Maryland Secretary of Planning David Craig will speak to the Republican Club of Cecil County Thursday, May 21. The event is open to the public. Craig, of Havre de Grace, will speak at 7 p.m. in the Senior Center at the County Administration Building in Elkton, 200 Chesapeake Blvd., according to the Cecil Whig.

NEW COPPIN PRESIDENT: A provost with the State University of New York has been named as the next president of Coppin State University. Maria Thompson will replace Mortimer Neufville, who has been president since July 2013. Thompson will begin the role on July 1. She is currently the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York at Oneonta, Sara Salinas reports in the Baltimore Business Journal.

O’MALLEY TO USE FEDERAL HILL AS BACK DROP: Martin O’Malley is expected to announce his presidential campaign in Federal Hill Park — using the city where he got his start in politics as his backdrop, the Sun’s John Fritze is reporting. The former two-term governor and mayor of Baltimore provided new details about his announcement on Twitter and Snapchat. The event, in which O’Malley is widely expected to announce he will seek the Democratic nomination for president, is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 30.

CITY MINORITY BIZ COMPLAINTS: Pless Jones laid it out about as bluntly as he could. “I’m here to represent the MBE [minority business] community, and if this is what we going to get today, then I just don’t know what to do,” he thundered across the dais to the Board of Estimates seats occupied by Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Jack Young. The issue at hand was a protest by fellow minority businessman about being denied a water meter contract, but the implications embodied by Jones’ appearance were far reaching. Mar Reutter explains for Baltimore Brew.

OBAMA SIGNS CARDIN POLICE BILL: President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed legislation drafted by Sen. Ben Cardin to create a nationwide alert system to help capture anyone who harms a police officer or makes a credible threat to do so, John Fritze reports in the Sun. The measure is named for Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, the New York City police officers who were killed last year by a man with Maryland ties

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