State Roundup, October 2, 2015

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STATE OF EMERGENCY: Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, the University of Maryland moved up the kickoff time for its game against Michigan, and Russell Baiocco was moving “anything that the wind can blow” off the docks of his Ocean City marina ahead of Hurricane Joaquin, Sun staff is reporting. “I’m a nervous wreck,” said Baiocco, owner of the White Marlin Marina. “We’ve just got to hold on now.”

NEW LAWS: Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports on the new laws that took effect yesterday in Maryland, writing that Maryland residents face tougher penalties for drunken driving and have new opportunities to clear marijuana-related charges from their records, reverse the effects of opiate overdoses and, in some cases, avoid prolonged divorce battles.

EARLY VOTING CONTROVERSY COULD WIDEN: The Sun’s Michael Dresser follows up on earlier stories about the controversy in Montgomery County over the potential loss of two early voting sites, reporting that the dust-up in Maryland’s most populous county could portend partisan conflict in other jurisdictions because every election board in Maryland now has a GOP majority after Republican Larry Hogan became governor this year.

NEW COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: Maryland officials promoted on Thursday a restructuring of the state’s economic development arm, saying the newly named Department of Commerce will foster a more business-friendly culture. The Hogan administration said it’s more than a name change: The Commerce Department will also seek to better coordinate the state’s economic development efforts through a new subcabinet to include leaders from the Departments of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; Transportation; Environment; Planning; and Housing and Community Development., reports John Fritze for the Sun.

FREEING EDUCATION FUNDS: An editorial for the Frederick New Post urges Gov. Larry Hogan to release $68 million in Geographic Cost of Education funds. The state teachers’ union and a number of other groups have already done so. The discretionary money goes to 13 Maryland jurisdictions where it costs more to educate students — 80% of the state’s total population. Frederick County is among them, and would receive about $3.2 million if the funds were to be released. The fund is worth a total $136 million, and Hogan has committed to funding about half that. The rest was held back by lawmakers giving the governor a choice of either spending it on education or not at all.

HOPKINS STEPS UP TO AID BALTIMORE: In a column for the Daily Record, Fraser Smith writes that William Donald Schaefer would be shouting, “Hallelujah!” He’d be saying, “Attaboy,” or words to that effect. He’d be responding to Johns Hopkins University’s announcement Wednesday of an effort to address some of Baltimore’s most intractable quality of life issues. HopkinsLocal intends to hire unemployed men and women who live in parts of the city with more than 10%t unemployment – 16 ZIP codes in all.

THE POPE AS EXPECTED: In a commentary, Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that while he was pleased with some of the things that Pope Francis had to say in his trip to the United States, there were other things that gave him pause, such as his minor attention paid to Catholic priest sex abusers in talks with victims. He writes of Art Baselice, a former Philadelphia cop whose son died of a heroin overdose that was fueled by an addiction set in motion by a Catholic priest that abused him.

OIL PRODUCERS TARGET DELANEY: A national group of oil producers is targeting Rep. John Delaney with a cable television advertisement that calls on the Montgomery County Democrat to support a bill to lift the U.S. ban on crude exports. The Washington-based Producers for American Crude Oil Exports, made up of ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and other large producers, will begin airing the ad on Friday in 15 congressional districts across the country, John Fritze is reporting for the Sun.

SNIPING IN 8TH DISTRICT DEBATE: By virtue of money in the bank, state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin and former WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews are the clear front-runners in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District seat, writes Bill Turque in the Post. And with front-runnerhood comes increased scrutiny and attacks by opponents. That was the case at the first candidate forum of the primary season Wednesday night.

  • “Let’s not tear each other down in this campaign. This is our first time together—let’s not do it,” Raskin pleaded, after the sniping got underway at a Silver Spring Civic Center forum sponsored by several environmental groups. But, minutes later, Raskin was going at it with another leading contender, Del. Kumar Barve of Rockville, after Barve questioned why Raskin had contributed to the re-election campaign of a state Senate colleague who had been targeted for defeat by environmental groups, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.

EDWARDS PUSHES SIX DEBATES: Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is challenging her Democratic primary rival for Maryland’s open Senate seat to six debates, starting with one in Baltimore, Rachel Weiner writes in the Post.

  • The Sun’s John Fritze writes that under Edwards’ proposal, the two candidates would hold six hour-long debates split between Baltimore and the Washington suburbs. The first would take place in Baltimore. “Given how the profound challenges facing Charm City gripped our state and the country, we owe the voters nothing less than a full and forthright discussion about how we would address the significant issues facing Maryland’s largest city and her people,” Edwards wrote in a letter to Van Hollen.

O’MALLEY TOUTS CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM: Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said Thursday he would require companies to disclose their political donations and would advocate for other changes to the campaign finance system as his rivals for the nomination reported raising huge sums over the past three months, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

PG’S FIRST COUNTY EXEC DIES: William W. Gullett, who served in the early 1970s as the first elected Prince George’s County executive after voters adopted a charter form of government to replace a system of commissioners, died Sept. 24 at a hospital in Gloversville, N.Y. He was 92. Arelis Hernandez reports the story for the Post.