June 16, 2015

State Roundup, June 16, 2015

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HOGAN SEEKS RIOT RECOVERY FUNDS: Gov. Larry Hogan will ask the Board of Public Works Wednesday to approve a $20 million transfer from the state’s rainy day fund to cover costs related to the Baltimore riots, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. The details of the transfer have not been made public and will be hand-delivered to the board outside of its published public agenda.

NO FUNDS FOR LIQUOR STORES: In a related story, Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that Baltimore City will not extend riot recovery money to liquor stores that operate outside of zoning regulations, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday. More than 380 businesses across Baltimore were damaged by riots and looting at the end of April, including 23 liquor stores that operate in residential areas. The city has banned alcohol sales in residential areas, but many liquor stores have been grandfathered into current zoning rules.

KING REC CENTER REVITALIZED: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that Baltimore City fire dispatcher Arthur Kirk wanted to see West Baltimore’s Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center revitalized — so he put $30,000 of his own money into the project. Then he reached out to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office to see if businesses could help, too. Soon, the center had a new community garden, 20 computers, 15 iPads, a pingpong table, furniture and a renovated basketball court and playground, largely from private contributions. Donors also contributed $10,000 for a festival in honor of Kirk’s mother, the late Del. Ruth M. Kirk. The article is topped with a video interview with Gov. Hogan.

REPAIRING POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS: Maryland’s two senators are embarking on a campaign for legislation to address tension between police and black communities in the wake the death of Freddie Gray this year and the protests that followed, Rachel Weiner of the Post is reporting.

MARC FARE HIKES: MARC train riders urged Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday to delay fare increases announced by the Maryland Transit Administration and to order the agency to hold public hearings on hikes of as much as 67% for weekly ticket purchasers, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun. The MARC Riders Advisory Council, a group that advises the MTA on commuter concerns, called on Hogan to intervene before increases affecting about 36,000 daily commuters take effect. The hikes are part of a broader rise in MTA fares required under the 2013 law that raised the state’s gas tax, but the riders contend the MTA went much too far in raising the fares for MARC weekly and monthly plans.

CUMBERLAND POOREST TOWN IN STATE:  Although Marylanders have the highest median income in the country, Cumberland has been named the poorest city in the state by the New York-based online publication 24/7 Wall Street. The article, “America’s Poorest Towns, State by State,” named the the cities in each state with the lowest median household income. Cumberland, with a median income of $30,962, was last in Maryland, Greg Larry reports for the Cumberland Times News.

CASINOS GROWING: Sissi Cao of CNS reports in MarylandReporter.com that Maryland’s casino industry has been growing at a double digit pace since casino table gaming was legalized in 2012. But for casino operators, surviving and prospering becomes increasingly challenging in a climate of fierce competition. Maryland Live’s market dominance was challenged by Horseshoe Baltimore, a similar-sized gaming facility that opened 13 miles away near downtown Baltimore in last August. In the past 10 months, Maryland Live’s market share has dropped from 76% to 60%. But  Horseshoe has yet to meet revenue projections.

RON GEORGE TO RUN FOR ASTLE’S SEAT: Ron George, a former Anne Arundel County delegate who left the General Assembly to run for governor last year, said Monday that he will run for the state Senate in 2018. George, a Republican who lost to Larry Hogan in the primary, will seek the District 30 seat held by Democratic Sen. John Astle, who has survived several close elections during his 32 years in the legislature, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

  • The Annapolis jeweler said in a statement released Monday he will run for Senate in District 30, and is making plans to move into the district. George is a longtime Arnold resident whose home shifted to District 33 in the 2010 redistricting. He said he is selling his home with plans to move closer to his Main Street business, and was approached by former constituents and elected officials who urged him to run, Rick Hutzell reports in the Annapolis Capital.

BARVE CAMPAIGN KICKS OFFS: Del. Kumar Barve of Montgomery County rolled out more than two dozen endorsements from state lawmakers on Monday — including House Speaker Michael Busch, a longtime ally — in his bid for the state’s 8th Congressional District, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

Kumark Barve Mike Busch Lam Stein

Del. Kumar Barve endorsed for Congress by House Speaker Michael Busch and other delegates. From left: Dana Stein, Jim Gilchrist, David Frazier-Hidalgo, Andrew Platt, Barve, Busch, Clarence Lam. (From Barve’s Facebook page)

Pat Pexton

Pat Pexton (from his Twitter account)

BAKER BUDGET VETO: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced Monday that he will veto parts of the budget approved by the County Council, restoring most of the tax increases that lawmakers rejected and setting up a possible legal showdown between the two branches of government, reports Arelis Hernandez in the Post. Baker (D) said he will use his veto power today to replace a 4-cent increase in the property tax rate with an 11.45-cent increase, a change that would generate an additional $54 million for the county’s struggling public schools.

NEW EDITOR AT FNP: After a nationwide search and sifting through scores of applicants, The Frederick News-Post named veteran journalist and former Washington Post ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton as top editor, Paige Jones of the News Post reports. Pexton, 60, of Chevy Chase, will oversee the entirety of the News-Post editorial staff, which includes the daily paper’s reporters, editors, photographers, copy editors and page designers.

  • charlie hayward

    let’s hope hogan attaches a lot of strings to the $20 million Baltimore bailout, and that he presents to BPW the exact terms such that its members can cast informed votes. the size of the bailout seems generous. i think Baltimore needs to participate substantially in its own rebuilding because of the mayor’s culpability.