August 18, 2015

State Roundup, August 18, 2015

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HOLT’S RESIGNATION SOUGHT: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that 30 members of the House of Delegates called on Gov. Larry Hogan’s top housing official to resign Monday over remarks he made last week suggesting that mothers might poison their children with lead to obtain housing benefits. The lawmakers, all Democrats, sent a letter to Housing and Community Development Secretary Ken Holt calling his remarks “incredibly offensive and insensitive to the plight of mothers of children with lead poisoning.”

FIT FOR THIS OFFICE? The editorial board for the Sun questions Holt’s fitness for office following his remarks that certain mothers — read largely poor, black and living in Baltimore — would knowingly poison their children to gain housing. It “reveals a basic misunderstanding of human nature, Maryland housing law and the devastating effects of lead poisoning. Equally troublesome is the idea that Holt would blindly accept such an offensive anecdote as fact from a landlord, then use it as justification for plans to ease lead paint poisoning liability for those same landlords. Is he really that gullible?”

HEROIN DEATH INITIATIVE: The Baltimore-Washington area will participate in a $2.5 million White House initiative announced Monday to combat a persistent rise in heroin deaths over recent years, Jean Marbella reports for the Sun. Michael Botticelli, the White House drug czar, said the new Heroin Response Strategy will increase collaboration between public health and law enforcement agencies to track and, it is hoped, interrupt the flow of the deadly drug.

PUSH FOR REDISTRICTING REFORM: Josh Kurtz, in his column for Center Maryland, writes that Gov. Hogan, as he pushes to reform Maryland redistricting, ought to more forcefully acknowledge the disparities in other states than he previously has and fully embrace those Maryland politicians who are advocating for nationwide redistricting reform. And Democrats ought to participate in the process.

DOWNY OCEAN WITH MACO: Over 40 years, little has changed at the Maryland Association of Counties annual conference “downy ocean,” writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com, although every so often, like last Friday, news does break out.

HOME BUYING DEAL PROPOSED: Secretary of Housing and Community Development Ken Holt has proposed helping graduates with high student loan debt buy houses. Holt said he would seek legislative changes that would allow his agency to offer college graduates homes it already owns from being repossessed during the recent economic downturn, Bryan Sears reports for the Daily Record. The homes would be sold at a deep discount, maybe as much as 35% to 40%, and first-time buyers would be allowed to consolidate their student loan debt with the mortgage.

REAL CULPRIT FOR WAR ON WATERMEN: In an op-ed for the Sun, fisheries scientist Bill Goldsborough writes that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has been accused of waging a “war on watermen,” and watermen are fighting back, seeking changes in the way the bay’s fisheries are being managed. They say their livelihoods are being undermined and their culture threatened. They are right about that, but they are directing their anger at the wrong people.

MARYLAND AHEAD IN EPA RULES: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that the EPA’s new Clean Power Plan will cause some economic hardship in various places around the nation. Like other states, Maryland has some work to do in reducing greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, but its job will be made easier because of the plans it already has in place and the work it has already done. Maryland’s proactive approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions began back in 2009, when the General Assembly passed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act to cut carbon emissions by 25% by 2020 from their 2006 levels.

EDWARDS AHEAD IN NEW POLL: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards released a poll this week shows her ahead of her primary rival U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen by five points among state Democratic voters in the race for the Senate in 2016, according to her campaign, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post. Democratic pollster Global Strategy Group surveyed 600 likely Democratic voters by phone in the first week of August and found that 42% of respondents said they would support Edwards while 37% chose to back Van Hollen.

PG EMPLOYMENT UP: Prince George’s County appears to have finally picked itself up after a long employment fall. According to numbers released on Monday by County Executive Rushern Baker’s administration, the total number of jobs in Prince George’s jumped by 5,274 year over year, between the fourth quarter of 2013 and 2014. Over four years, the county has seen a net gain of 4,908 jobs and a two-point dip in the unemployment rate, which fell to 5.6% as of June, Michael Neibauer writes in the Washington Business Journal.

LAZARICK ON THE RADIO: MarylandReporter.com editor Len Lazarick will spend two hours tomorrow, Wednesday, on WCBM (680 AM and live streaming) from 10 a.m. to noon with guest host Del. Pat McDonough, filling in for Tom Marr. Topics include state government and politics and the Maryland media.