June 30, 2015

State Roundup, June 30, 2015

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PROMISES TO REVIVE RED LINE: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore lawmakers and other city leaders vowed Monday to find a way to revive the $2.9 billion Red Line that has been flatly rejected by Gov. Larry Hogan. After a closed-door meeting that included business representatives, city leaders said they would immediately seek a meeting with Hogan. Lawmakers also said they would call for a hearing at which they can quiz administration officials about why they scrapped what was considered the crown jewel in the city’s plan for a better transit system.

SEEING RED OVER PURPLE HAZE: Who says elections don’t have consequences? asks Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland. But for inept gubernatorial campaigns run by Democratic lieutenant governors, 12 years apart, riders would probably already be hopping aboard the Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and the Red Line in Baltimore would be close to winning its final approvals. Instead, Gov. Larry Hogan oh-so-grudgingly consents to let the Purple Line live another day, but with caveats that make the advocates’ celebrations seem premature. And he outright kills the Red Line, another symbolic dagger in the heart of beleaguered Baltimore.

Hogan prayer vigil in Annapolis June 28

A prayer vigil for Gov. Larry Hogan’s recovery from cancer was held Sunday on Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis, across from the governor’s residence. On his Facebook page Tuesday morning, Gov. Hogan posted: “Starting day 4 of 24 hour chemo treatment. Still feeling really strong. I think cancer picked the wrong fight! Will be out of the hospital and heading home tomorrow night! Feeling the love, support and prayers! It means the world to me and really helps keep me going!”(From Facebook)

REDISTRICTING REFORM GREEN LIGHT: The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Arizona’s use of an independent commission to redraw congressional districts is constitutional, leaving the state’s maps intact for the 2016 election — a victory for reform groups pushing for removing politically motivated state lawmakers from the redistricting process. Tarini Parti writes in Politico that in Illinois, an initiative to create an independent commission could be on the 2016 ballot; in Maryland, GOP Gov. Larry Hogan has expressed interest in reforming the redistricting process in a similar way; and in several Midwestern states — such as Ohio and Wisconsin — efforts to create redistricting commissions are in nascent stages.

VALIDATING WELFARE RECIPIENTS: State auditors hope to find less potential for fraud in their next audit of the Maryland Department of Human Resources, which recently partnered with an online credit bureau to validate that people receiving government assistance actually qualify, Rebecca Lessner writes in MarylandReporter.com.In 2011, Human Resources entered into a contract with Equifax, one of the three major credit rating agencies, in order to use an online database called the “Work Number.” Equifax is boasting a 200% improvement to DHR’s error rate in the first year of implementation alone, which means that state workers are able to quickly verify critical information for low-income programs like food stamps or disability assistance.

CLEAN AIR ADVOCATES PUSH ON SMOG RULES: Environmental advocates urged Maryland regulators Monday to reinstate a rule withdrawn by the Hogan administration that would require power plants to curtail their smog-forming pollution or shut down, Timothy Wheeler of the Sun reports. About 40 people, many of them wearing “I love clean air” stickers, came to the Maryland Department of the Environment in Baltimore for a public hearing on a new state regulation that would require coal-burning power plants to maximize the use of their existing pollution controls.

SRB DISMISSES HUCKABEE COMPLAINT: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee defended police practices in Baltimore at a meeting of law enforcement officials in the city on Monday and said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration did not adequately support its officers during the April riots, John Fritze reports in the Sun. But a Rawlings-Blake spokesman responded: “Any person who can’t give a straight answer on whether or not the Confederate flag should fly is the last person we should take advice from on bringing people together.” He was referring to Huckabee’s recent hedge when asked whether the Confederate flag should continue to fly on the state house grounds in South Carolina.

SHAPE OF MARYLAND COUNTIES: Jason Babcock of the Cecil Whig writes that about how the counties of Maryland were formed and how they got their names.

MADALENO ON MARRIAGE RULING: You can listen to an interview by Mary Beth Marsden for WBAL-AM with state Sen. Richard Madaleno on same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court’s decision to make it legal in all states. Madaleno, one of the key figures advocating for Maryland to change the same-sex marriage law and the first openly gay candidate in the General Assembly, tells about his emotional reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision and how he feels about people who oppose gay marriage.

AGE AHEAD OF BEAUTY: S.A. Miller of the Washington Times reports that the failure of former Gov. Martin O’Malley to gain traction with his campaign has proved that the 2016 Democratic presidential race isn’t a beauty contest. O’Malley, who built his campaign upon his youthful appeal and a call for a new generation of leadership, entered the race two months ago as one of the more telegenic and promising long-shot competitors to challenge front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination. But he hasn’t been able to break out from the back of the pack. He also has been eclipsed by the curmudgeonly Sen. Bernie Sanders, 73, a Vermont independent and avowed socialist who has surged in the polls as he trumpets a far-left agenda of fighting Wall Street, income inequality and climate change.

PEROUTKA DRAWS ETHICS ATTENTION: As a candidate for Anne Arundel County Council, Michael Peroutka saw no boundary between his Christian faith and political stances, making his beliefs known on the campaign trail. His Institute on the Constitution, a private organization that advocates for constitutionalist and Christian-based governance, has existed for many years. Now, a few months into office, blurred lines between Peroutka’s public life and private affiliation have captured the attention of the county Ethics Commission. Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital writes the story, which is topped with the video in question.