June 2, 2015

State Roundup, June 2, 2015

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STATE WORKERS COMMUNITY SERVICE: Gov. Larry Hogan will offer many state workers a half day off work this summer to volunteer for community service projects, the Sun’s Michael Dresser reports. The governor’s office said employees at state executive branch agencies will have the option of taking four hours of paid leave to help Maryland charities as part of Hogan’s “Maryland Unites: Day of Service” initiative. According to the administration, the plan is inspired by the “outpouring of kindness and goodwill from Maryland citizens” after the recent Baltimore rioting.

$11,000 IN EMAILS: When Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and National Guardsman were deployed to Baltimore City, the flow of information also ramped up between the governor, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. Fox45 requested the documentation of this communication under Maryland’s Public Information Act. WBFF-TV is reporting that the governor’s office attached an $11,000 price tag to the 82,000 emails requested. Baltimore City put the cost for the information at $1,500 while Baltimore’s Police Department didn’t respond until hours before our story was scheduled to air, which was well beyond the 30 days allowed by law.

IN SCHOOL TILL 18: Since 1902, students have been allowed to stop attending school at age 16, but soon that age will incrementally rise to 18 in an effort to keep teens in school longer, Sara Newman writes in the Calvert Recorder. “If we don’t let you go at age 16, even though you might be inclined to do so and have family that supports that, we get one more year with you and one more opportunity to get you a step closer to graduation,” Calvert County Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Curry said of the new Maryland law raising the school dropout age.

MIXED MESSAGE ON VETO: Supporters of a bill that would have clarified Maryland law as it related to the collection of sales taxes for online hotel bookings say Gov. Larry Hogan is sending mixed messages when it comes to retaining one of the state’s largest employers. Before leaving for an economic development trip to Asia, Hogan vetoed the bill that Marriott International wanted the governor to sign. Days later, Hogan announced on social media that he was supporting Maryland businesses by staying in Marriott hotels while on his 12-day trip to China, South Korea and Japan, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

HOGAN’S VETOES: In this 13-minute interview, Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM speaks with Bryan Sears, of the Daily Record, and Charles Robinson, of MPT, to discuss Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent vetoes.

GOOD VETO, BAD VETO: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post opines that Gov. Larry Hogan rolled out the veto pen late last month, striking down six bills and setting up an early January showdown with the legislature. Two vetoes on major pieces of legislation stand out. On one veto, the board thinks he’s right; on the other, it’s not so sure.

PROSECUTION SWAP: State prosecutors in Montgomery and Howard counties will swap cases of police-involved deaths, a move intended to build public trust in the independence and fairness of the investigations, Colin Campbell reports in the Sun. The partnership between the counties, announced Monday, comes at a time when citizens “overwhelmingly” distrust the criminal justice system, Montgomery County State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy said.

O’MALLEY TARGETS LATINO VOTE: Martin O’Malley is making a special effort to target Latino voters during the first week of his presidential campaign, appearing on the Spanish-language television channel Univision, offering interviews on immigration policy to major news outlets and speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arelis Hernandez of the Post is reporting.

INAUTHENTICITY & FIERY RHETORIC: The O’Malley who announced his candidacy Saturday on Federal Hill was not the blah, cautious technocrat who served two terms in Annapolis, observes Sun columnist Dan Rodricks..= With pops of fiery rhetoric about the corrupt excesses of Wall Street, the stagnant wages of American workers, income inequality and entrenched poverty, O’Malley sounded at times like a New Deal, union-hall liberal, sleeves rolled up, ready for a fight.  His problem remains that authenticity thing, says Rodricks.

OMalley announcement aerial

Here’s an aerial shot of the crowd at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s announcement of his presidential run Saturday. Some people were under the trees on the hot sunny day. There appears to be a least 1,000 people if not more. There was a lack of crowd estimates in most stories, but a snarky commentary in the Daily Beast referred to a “smattering of supporters” while inflating the number of protesters.

ON RUSHERN BAKER: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland opines that Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker’s political acumen becomes an ongoing question not just because he still has 3½ more years at the helm of one of Maryland’s most important – and challenging – jurisdictions, but because Baker is one of the top Democrats mentioned as possible candidates for governor in 2018.

SCHUH PUSHES TAX CUT: Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh is campaigning to get his proposed 3% property tax rate cut passed by the County Council — passing out fliers, making Facebook posts and recording phone calls set to go out today. At Monday’s County Council meeting, about 20 residents heard the pitch, as Schuh himself and Republican state legislators spoke in support of his plan, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital.

WASHINGTON Co BUYS RIOT GEAR: Calling the recent unrest in Baltimore “too close to home to ignore,” the Washington County Sheriff’s Office has purchased riot gear to help keep order should similar events occur locally, CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports. “It’s basically for emergency preparedness,” said Sheriff Douglas Mullendore in a telephone interview Monday. “Obviously, things aren’t over in Baltimore, and with incidents popping up all over the country, we felt the need to be prepared for any kind of situation where there could be disorderly conduct.”

FORMER UMES PRESIDENT DIES: Dr. Dolores Richard Spikes, who became the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s first female president, has died, school officials confirmed Monday. She was 78 years old and served as president of the university from 1996 to 2001, Mitchell Northam reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.