July 7, 2015

State Roundup, July 7, 2015

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PURPLE LINE CUTS: The Purple Line can do with a few less station elevators, shorter platform lengths and no environmentally friendly plant material for track beds at all, according to a list of $210 million in cost reductions identified by Gov. Larry Hogan. The list of potential cuts — 43 items in all — was sent to Montgomery and Prince George’s county officials last week and released by Hogan’s office late Monday, Bill Turque and Josh Hicks are reporting in the Post.

Gov. Hogan with the statue of George Washington in the Old Senate chamber. Photo provided by the Governor's Press Office.

Gov. Hogan with the statue of George Washington in the Old Senate chamber. Photo provided by the Governor’s Press Office. Click photo to enlarge.

HOGAN BACK IN PUBLIC: Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday that he is feeling “pretty good” after his first round of chemotherapy last week and is not feeling side-effects such as pain and nausea. Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that Hogan gave an update of his medical condition as he conducted an unscheduled tour of the newly reopened Old Senate Chamber at the State House in Annapolis. “A lot of people were expecting me to look more beat-up than I am,” Hogan told reporters, state employees and a few surprised tourists. “I’m a little bit tired.”

EPA AUTHORITY UPHELD ON BAY: A federal appeals court upheld Monday the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to order pollution reductions by Maryland and all the other states that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. In a 60-page ruling, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia brushed aside challenges from agricultural and home building groups to the “pollution diet” that EPA imposed for the bay in 2010, Timothy Wheeler reports for the Sun.

SUMMER JOBS: Ron Matz of WJZ reports that thousands of students will be working this summer and getting paid by the state of Maryland. It’s a summer jobs program that’s getting increased funding from the Hogan administration.

CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTION: MarylandReporter.com is reporting that the state of Maryland is getting a lot better at collecting child support payments, auditors say, but is still collecting less than a third of $1.8 billion owed by non-custodial parents to take care of their children. The good news, according to an audit of Child Support Enforcement Administration in the Department of Human Resources released Monday, is that the agency has corrected all 11 of the problems legislative auditors found four years ago and the amount of child support payments in arrears has been substantially reduced.

FEMA DENIAL TO BE APPEALED: The AP is reporting at WMAR-TV that the state of Maryland says it will appeal the federal government’s denial of disaster aid to help the state and Baltimore City recover millions of dollars in riot-related costs.

DO AS I SAY, NOT … State Comptroller Peter Franchot, who encouraged Marylanders to support Baltimore businesses on Independence Day, attended parades in Baltimore County on July 4 and did not make a stop in the city,  writes Christina Jedra for the Sun. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun last week Franchot said “it’s important during the Fourth of July that people come down here to patronize businesses” to counteract destruction caused by April’s unrest.

UM FUNDRAISING BOON: The University of Maryland, College Park left its fiscal 2015 fundraising goal in the dust, raising about $195 million by the end of June. That’s $55 million above the school’s goal. While final figures are still being tallied, the school’s fiscal 2015 take will be about $52 million ahead of what it raised last year and more than $80 million beyond what it raised the year before that, said Peter Weiler, the school’s vice president of university relations, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Daily Record.

POLITICAL FOOD CHAIN: In a long and detailed article, Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland outlines the leadership logjam in Maryland, highlighting a situation that is reflected in other states in which those at the top of the political food chain have been there a long time despite new politicians coming into the mix.

BROWN POLL GIVES HIM WIDE LEAD: Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has a wide lead over lesser known opponents in the contest for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, according to poll summary released by his campaign Monday — the first such survey made public in the crowded race for the Prince George’s County-based district, reports the Sun’s John Fritze. Brown, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year, has support from 42% of respondents in the poll, compared with 20% for former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey.

AA COUNCIL OKS WATER RATE CUT: Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital writes that the Anne Arundel County Council on Monday night approved dropping water and sewer rates by 2.25%. Charges per 1,000 gallons of water will drop to $2.70 from $2.76 for water and $4.74 from $4.85 for wastewater.

GARDNER SEEKS MORE OPENNESS: When Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner is sitting alone in her office signing off on decisions, she said she sometimes thinks how strange it is she doesn’t have an audience. Under the county’s new charter form of government, Gardner, the county’s first executive leader, has been given the power to make many decisions in private. Her goal is to be as open as possible, even when the rules don’t require a public process, writes Jen Fifield for the Frederick News Post.