State Roundup, September 9, 2015

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STATE CUTS OUTLINED: Maryland plans to rely heavily on public-employee layoffs and other payroll reductions to trim state spending by 2% next year, Josh Hicks reports for the Post. State Budget and Management Secretary David R. Brink­ley outlined the cuts in a letter to legislative leaders, saying the state will eliminate 274 positions as part of a blueprint for saving $118 million overall.

HISPANIC CONCERNS: Antonio Olivo of the Post reports that the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan sought Tuesday to strengthen ties with the state’s growing Latino community, but was greeted with worry over Hogan’s recent decision to cooperate more fully with federal immigration authorities on potential deportation cases.

MORE GAMBLING PROBLEMS, NO FREE TREATMENT: Michael Rosen, who helps manage the state’s increasingly busy 1-800-GAMBLER help line, commiserates with the desperate and directs many to Gamblers Anonymous meetings. But he can’t suggest any free treatment programs because Maryland, one of the country’s most concentrated casino markets, doesn’t offer any. That sets it apart from Delaware, Connecticut and many other casino states, even as experts believe that gambling addiction in Maryland is on the rise, Joe Heim reports in the Post.

BIZ BENEFITS TOUTED: A commission tasked with examining how businesses are impacted by Maryland’s tax structure should also consider the benefits businesses reap in the form of state services as it works to develop recommendations, according to some advocates, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The Maryland Economic Development and Business Climate Commission today will hear from business organizations and organizations responsible for producing rankings of state tax and business climates around the country.

FIRST POT ZONING REGS PASS: The Baltimore County Council has set the zoning rules that will govern where medical marijuana businesses can open in the county, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. The unanimous passage of Councilwoman Vicki Almond’s bill makes Baltimore County the first jurisdiction to tackle zoning issues surrounding medical marijuana, in advance of the state issuing licenses to growers, processors and dispensaries.

HOGAN’S WINDFALL: Gov. Larry Hogan got some good news this week when Comptroller Peter Franchot announced an unexpectedly large balance in the state’s accounts when he closed the books on the 2015 fiscal year. As a result, the state started fiscal 2016 with about $243 million more than had been anticipated. However, opines the editorial board for the Sun, it would be entirely consistent with his principles of caution for Hogan to restore full funding in this year’s budget for a type of education aid that helps Baltimore and other jurisdictions where the cost of educating students is higher.

LOBBYING GAME CHANGER: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes about recent developments in the Annapolis lobbying game with former state Sen. P.J. Hogan jumping from the University of Maryland Systems to Cornerstone Government Affairs. What it means is that a big bipartisan national lobbying firm, with all kinds of resources and more than 50 professionals, is entering the lucrative Maryland lobbying game. Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet – and he has been reluctant to publicly disclose his plans – Cornerstone has turned to former Del. John Bohanan to help Hogan launch its Annapolis operation, and others will likely follow.

MANDEL PART 2: In Part 2 of his two-part series on the late Gov. Marvin Mandel, Barry Rascovar writes for MarylandReporter.com that on the surface Mandel could be wise, funny, kind, brilliant and farsighted. Yet there was a darker side behind the implacable façade he showed to the public. As governor for 10 years, he manipulated legislators better than anyone before or since. Victory after victory, reform after reform piled up.

CITY SETTLES GRAY CASE FOR $6.4M: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s decision to pay Freddie Gray’s family a $6.4 million civil settlement drew praise and criticism Tuesday, with some Baltimore leaders saying the move will help heal the city and others calling it premature, Yvonne Wenger and Mark Puente report for the Sun.

PG SICK LEAVE BILL STALLED: The chair of the Prince George’s County Council has delayed efforts by several lawmakers to introduce legislation that would require employers in the county to offer up to seven days a year of paid sick leave, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post. Council member Mary Lehman said she and two of her colleagues expected that their bill, which would allow all county workers to earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work, to appear on the agenda when the council returns from recess Wednesday. But Chair Mel Franklin did not put the item on the agenda.

PEROUTKA DEFENDS KY CLERK: Claiming that he was doing so as a private citizen, Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka spoke at a rally Saturday in Kentucky in support of jailed clerk Kim Davis, Ben Weathers reports for the Annapolis Capital.

GROWING FIELD IN DELANEY RACE: It’s become clear that a second Montgomery County-based congressional district will face a crowded — and financially costly — contest in next April’s primary election, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Beat. While a seven-way Democratic primary in District 8 is likely to determine the successor to Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the primary season maneuvering in neighboring District 6 has been on the Republican side. So far, seven Republicans have filed to compete for the nomination for the seat first captured in 2012 by Democratic Rep. John Delaney, and more may join them.