June 22, 2015

State Roundup, June 22, 2015

Print More

HOGAN ILL AFTER ASIA TRIP: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting that Gov. Larry Hogan has been feeling ill since returning from a trade mission in Asia nearly two weeks ago, according to two people familiar with his schedule, forcing him to cancel numerous meetings and public appearances. “The governor picked up a bug in Korea and has canceled everything since,” said one of the two people, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

LITTLE SWAY ON KEEPING JOBS: Columnist Barry Rascovar, writing in MarylandReporter.com, says that Larry Hogan was elected governor partly because he promised to bring jobs and companies to Maryland and reverse the hostile, anti-business mindset of the outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley. Since Hogan took office in late January, 12 companies have notified the state they will close or impose mass layoffs, costing 1,439 Marylanders their jobs. What we’re seeing is the reality politicians don’t want to admit: They have, at best, marginal ability to influence the job-creation, job-loss decisions of private-sector companies

JOB GROWTH ANYWAY: Maryland has posted job gains in four of five months this year after adding 13,500 jobs in May, according to estimates released Friday by the U.S. Department of Labor. The five-digit increase follows a similar gain in April, when Maryland added 16,300 jobs (revised from an initial estimate of 16,400). The two-month increase is the state’s largest since 2010, Zach Kram reports in the Daily Record.

SMALL BUSINESS AIDE: Rick Seltzer of the Baltimore Business Journal interviews Roger Campos, Maryland’s small  business ombudsman. Campos is the first small business ombudsman in the state. The ombudsman is supposed to support businesses as they deal with state agencies, giving them information, referring them to resources and giving their feedback to the governor and lawmakers.

GILL FOR COMMERCE?: When it comes to selecting the first person to lead the newly created secretary of commerce position in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has one obvious choice, according to leaders of two area groups that represent businesses — R. Michael Gill, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

MARC OFFERS LESS EXPENSIVE PLAN: An AP report at WBFF-TV says that the Maryland Transit Administration has unveiled a less costly MARC pass that can be used on weekdays.The original plan, protested widely, would have raised the cost of a seven-day pass to travel between Baltimore and Washington from $52.50 to $80. The new passes will cost $60 for five days.

FAILURE OF RECYCLING: Aaron Davis of the Post reports on the state of recycling efforts, writing that the District, Baltimore and many counties in between are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation’s busiest recycling facilities in Elkridge, Md. — but it is still losing money. In fact, almost every facility like it in the country is running in the red. And Waste Management and other recyclers say that more than 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around.

DEMS FOCUS ON RURAL MD: Maryland might have a history of being a Democratic state, but the Democratic Party knows it has a problem: rural counties, Pamela Wood reports in the Annapolis Capital. More than 100 elected Democrats and party loyalists gathered at a Frederick hotel on Saturday for the first Rural Maryland Democratic Summit, at which they discussed how they can better reach conservative voters in rural areas of the state who backed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the last election. (Stories like this originating in the Baltimore Sun are increasingly shared among other Tribune-owned newspapers, as is their website design.)

Pat Murray

Patrick Murray

MURRAY PICKED BY DEMS: The Maryland Democratic Party has hired a former aide to Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch for its top staff position, Michael Dresser of the Sun is reporting. In a memo circulated Friday to members of the party’s executive committee, chairman D. Bruce Poole said he offered the job of executive director to Patrick H. Murray, who is now director of state affairs.

SAT SNAFU AFFECTS 16,000 IN MARYLAND: Erica Green of the Sun reports that about 16,000 Maryland students took SATs that were compromised this month, College Board officials confirmed Friday. Earlier, the testing organization announced that it would not score two sections of the exam because of a printing error.

JUSTICE SYSTEM REFORM: Fraser Smith of WYPR-FM and John Fritze of the Baltimore Sun talk about criminal justice reforms proposed by Maryland’s two senators.

BAKER BACKS AWAY FROM THREAT: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced Friday that he will accept the 2016 operating budget approved by the County Council and not challenge it in court, bringing an end to the most bitter battle he has waged with the council since taking office, Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post.

MONTGOMERY MAY OFFER MORE BENEFITS: The Montgomery County Council is poised to pass legislation requiring employers to provide workers at least seven days a year of paid sick leave, joining other state and local governments — including the District’s — in approving a benefit that has stalled at the federal level, writes Bill Turque in the Post.

MOBILE HEROIN CLINIC: In the past 12 months, Anne Arundel County picked up the tab for over 23,600 rides to methadone clinics. Covered by a state grant, those trips — helping patients addicted to heroin and painkillers get to their appointments if they don’t have transportation — cost about $1 million, roughly 2% of health spending in fiscal 2015. But what if instead of patients crisscrossing the county to get to a clinic, the clinic went closer to them? Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital writes about a proposed new venture.

NO FEMA AID FOR BALTIMORE: Federal officials have denied Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s request for a disaster declaration to let the city of Baltimore and the state recover millions of dollars in costs stemming from rioting that followed the police-involved death of Freddie Gray, officials said Friday. The Associated Press, in a story in the Frederick News-Post, reports that the state and city said they are reviewing their options, including a possible appeal, which must be filed within 30 days.

FORMER DELEGATE CANDIDATE INDICTED: According to an AP report at WYPR, a former candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates has been indicted on felony theft, perjury and other charges relating to campaign spending. State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt announced the 38-count indictment Friday against Steven Wyatt.

SRB HEADS CONFERENCE OF MAYORS: In her inaugural address as the new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Monday plans to discuss the Freddie Gray case and the subsequent unrest in Baltimore. Rawlings-Blake said she will call on mayors across the country to develop a bi-partisan agenda at a September meeting in Baltimore to address systemic issues, including poverty, that were highlighted by April’s unrest. Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that Rawlings-Blake said the agenda will be called the “Baltimore Compact,” and the mayor’s group will press both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates to agree to it.

VAN HOLLEN VS. EDWARDS: Rep. Chris Van Hollen won Maryland’s first rural straw poll by an overwhelming margin Saturday, in what is becoming an increasingly contentious fight for the Democratic nomination to fill retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat. Elizabeth Koh writes in the Post that the poll, part of the state’s first rural Democratic summit, was sponsored by the Western Maryland Democratic PAC to unite rural areas with similar concerns.

  • Van Hollen and rival Rep. Donna Edwards are beginning to bring the state’s marquee political contest into Baltimore, working to lock down support and money in the event that no credible prospect emerges from the region for the race to succeed Mikulski, who is retiring.  Both Edwards and Van Hollen live in the Washington suburbs,and are courting Baltimore officials for endorsements and appearing at fundraisers for city politicians and galas for local advocacy groups.

O’MALLEY ON CLINTON: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley said Friday that he won’t be deterred from vigorously criticizing front-runner Hillary Clinton in his race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun. O’Malley, appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, told co-host Mika Brzezinski that he isn’t concerned about damage to his career or retaliation by party leaders if he criticizes Clinton too harshly. “My career ended when I was elevated to the rank of citizen about three months ago,” he said.” I don’t have a career to kill.”

O’MALLEY ON GUNS & FLAGS: O’Malley sent a tartly worded e-mail to supporters Friday saying he is “pissed” by congressional inaction on gun control and asking them to stand with him in an effort to toughen laws after this week’s massacre at a Charleston, S.C., church, writes John Wagner for the Post.