State Roundup, October 6, 2015

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HOGAN APPROVAL RATING UP: Gov. Larry Hogan gets positive approval ratings in the latest Goucher College poll, as does one of his top priorities this fall, an independent redistricting commission, but it is not an important issue to most residents, Len Lazarick reports for MarylandReporter.com. The poll found 58% of Maryland residents approved of the job Hogan has done in his eight months in office, while 18% disapprove and 23% don’t know. At the same time, 54% have a favorable view of the Republican governor, and only 15% have an unfavorable view, but nearly a third of residents (30%) don’t have an opinion.

HOGAN REMAKES EDUCATION: Political columnist Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland writes that when state Superintendent of Education Lillian Lowery resigned last month, she described her new gig as an irresistible opportunity. Perhaps it is. But it is also possible that Lowery saw changes coming in the state that she did not want to be a part of. Quietly, Gov. Larry Hogan is seeking to remake the Maryland State Board of Education.

TIDAL MARINE SANCTUARY IN MD: President Barack Obama declared a new marine sanctuary in the tidal waters of Maryland on Monday, while Chile blocked off more than 200,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean near the world-famous Easter Island from commercial fishing and oil and gas exploration, the AP reports in the Daily Record.

CANNIBIS BIZ IN CAROLINE: The Caroline County commissioners at their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 29, met with representatives of a company that is applying for a state license to grow medical cannabis in a warehouse it has proposed to build in a Federalsburg industrial park, Abby Andrews writes in the Easton Star Democrat.

PERSONAL INCOME TAX A PROBLEM: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that one surprise of a recent Moody’s study is that it did not support the widely held contention that business taxes are excessively high in Maryland. So what exactly are the big problems that are stymieing the state’s economic growth? The “biggest red flag” when it comes to economic growth is the personal income tax. Considering the state’s high personal income tax rate, and how it affects economic development, we think that might be a good place to begin new efforts to bolster Maryland’s economic competitiveness.

LATEX SPILL NO THREAT: Tests have concluded that last month’s spill of nearly 10,000 gallons of latex into the Potomac River does not pose a public health concern, an official with the Maryland Department of the Environment said Monday. CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that MDE spokesman Jay Apperson said in an email that the material has become “increasingly diluted” as its flowed down the river, and this weekend’s rain provided additional dilution.

CUBA RELATIONS: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports on Anne Arundel County Exec Steve Schuh’s trip to Cuba. Schuh, who is one of several Marylanders who just returned from a trip to Cuba, says he is excited about the prospects of establishing economic ties with the country. The county executive, who says he paid for the trip with his own money, says that the Cuban people are also excited about the possibility of improving relations with Americans.

TRAIL DEDICATED TO CARDIN: After the threat of Hurricane Joaquin dissipated, it left a wonderful day for Chesapeake City to officially dedicate the Ben Cardin Recreational Trail to its namesake Monday morning. Jacob Owens of the Cecil Whig reports that U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin was selected by the town for the honor due to his leadership in securing more than $2 million in federal funding to build the 1.8 miles of trail in Maryland, connecting to an additional 15 miles in Delaware. On Monday, the legislator was enthusiastic about what the trail offers.

GOVERNMENT BY PEOPLE ACT: Tom Hall of WYPR-FM interviews U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 3rd congressional district, about legislation he introduced last year that would change the way congressional campaigns are financed. His bill is called the Government by the People Act.

CLINTON SUPPORT STRONG IN MD: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s support remains strong in blue Maryland despite a recent slip in early primary states, according to a Goucher College poll released Tuesday. Erin Cox and John Fritze report that 43% of likely Democratic voters in Maryland indicated they would support the former secretary of state and first lady if the election was held today — a far better result for her than in New Hampshire, where she trails Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

OBAMA RATINGS SOLID: President Obama’s job approval ratings among Marylanders have remained consistent during his last two years in office, a new Goucher Poll finds. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Maryland residents approve of the job he is doing, while 38% disapprove. Marylanders continue to express their disapproval with Congress; 83% disapproves of the way Congress is handling its job. The disdain for Congress is fairly uniform regardless of party, gender, race or age, Len Lazarick writes for MarylandReporter.com. Updated with Democratic presidential primary results. Martin O’Malley at 2% in his home state.

NEW CONTENDER FOR DISTRICT 8: The already large field of contenders for the District 8 Democratic congressional nomination expanded Monday, as former State Department official Joel Rubin of Chevy Chase announced he would join six other Democrats already vying to succeed Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.

CUMMINGS MUM ON RUN: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings will not announce whether he is running for Senate until after Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies before a House panel about the Benghazi attacks. Rachel Weiner and Paul Kane report in the Post that Cummings, in an interview Monday, said he wanted to “get this behind me” before making a public decision. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Benghazi.