State Roundup, October 12, 2015

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HOGAN MOVES STATESTAT: Gov. Larry Hogan erased a vestige of the O’Malley administration Friday as he merged the office known as StateStat into a new unit aimed at improving performance and customer service in state government. Hogan issued an executive order creating the Governor’s Office of Performance Improvement, calling it an “important step” in his administration’s effort to reduce waste and bureaucracy. Spokesman Matthew A. Clark said it would take over the functions of StateStat, with an expanded mission of improving the management of state agencies, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

ASSISTED SUICIDE ADVOCATES RETURN: Advocates of assisted suicide are significantly expanding their efforts to build support in Maryland for broader end-of-life options, hopeful that a recent victory in California will provide new momentum for legislation that failed to get out of committee in Annapolis this year, writes Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

HEALTH EXCHANGE FLAWS: The Maryland Health Benefit Exchange violated its procurement policies, didn’t obey the state’s Open Meetings Act and failed to adequately safeguard equipment and electronic personal information, according to a report released by state auditors Friday. Daniel Leaderman of the Daily Record reports that Maryland’s Office of Legislative Audits examined the exchange from its inception on June 1, 2011 through July 23, 2014.

TOLL SCOFFLAW AMNESTY: If you’re the owner of one of the nearly 165,000 vehicles with unpaid tolls in Maryland, the state has a deal for you. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that starting this week, the Maryland Transportation Authority will offer an amnesty program to toll scofflaws allowing them to pay the base toll and avoid the $50 per transaction penalty.

DRUG PRISONERS TO BE FREED: Hundreds of Marylanders will be among the federal prisoners to be released early beginning next month, under new drug sentencing guidelines meant to relieve overcrowding and shorten what many see as draconian sentences, Alison Knezevich reports in the Sun. The move has won praise from sentencing reform advocates, who say harsh drug sentences have disproportionately affected the poor and minorities.

SRB SEEKS $150M FROM GOV. TO HELP: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan seeking $150 million in state aid over the next five years after the governor penned an opinion piece in the Sun saying he wanted to help Baltimore, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

5 DEMS FOR 4TH CONGRESSIONAL: Five Democratic candidates for Congress the 4th District spoke to the United Democratic Women for Maryland Saturday morning to introduce themselves and their platforms. Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Warren Christopher, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, former Prince George’s County Council chairwoman Ingrid Turner and statistician Terence M. Strait delivered speeches to the group, Christina Jedra reports for the Annapolis Capital.

8TH DISTRICT DEMS ON HOGAN: Sonya Burke at MyMCMedia produced this video 3-minute clip of the Democratic candidates in the 8th Congressional District criticizing Gov. Larry Hogan.

VAN HOLLEN AIRS AD: Rep. Chris Van Hollen will begin airing the first television advertisement of the state’s Senate contest today, making an introductory pitch that is heavily focused on Baltimore voters, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

O’MALLEY VA CAMPAIGN CHAIR CHARGED: Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign severed ties with the chair of his election effort in Virginia this week after the man was arrested on child pornography charges, writes Erin Cox in the Sun. Michael C. Teegarden, 51, faces two counts of felony possession of child pornography, charges brought by the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities said they got a tip that a computer at Teegarden’s home in the suburbs north of Richmond was being used to trade illicit images online.

YEAR OF THE ANGRY CANDIDATE: People are tired of the political status quo, the endless promises that never come to pass, the gridlock in Washington, the bitter partisanship, the self-aggrandizement, the failure to handle issues that affect families, Barry Rascovar writes for MarylandReporter.com. Suddenly, a new breed of pseudo presidential candidates has appeared on the scene, tailor-made for Reality TV.

MEETING WITH CLINTON: Prominent activist DeRay Mckesson and others met with leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Friday to push for police reform. Mckesson, a Baltimore native and former public school administrator here, is part of a team called Campaign Zero, which seeks to end police killings in America. African-Americans are much more likely to be killed by police than whites, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

O’MALLEY’S MAKE OR BREAK DEBATE: Martin O’Malley is preparing to step onto the biggest stage of his political career Tuesday for a debate that analysts say could make or break his long-shot and long-standing ambition to be president, writes John Fritze for the Sun. The stakes could not be higher for the two-term Maryland governor, whose bid for the Democratic nomination has struggled to capture attention and money despite an aggressive and occasionally unorthodox campaign style.

O’MALLEY AGAINST NO FLY ZONE: Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said on Sunday he would oppose a U.S.-enforced no fly zone in Syria, breaking to the left of front runner Hillary Clinton on the issue. “Secretary Clinton’s always quick for the military intervention,” O’Malley said on CNN’s State of the Union, hitting on an issue that is almost certain to come up at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in Las Vegas.

***HOW DID O’MALLEY DO? Will Martin O’Malley have his breakthrough moment out of the polling basement in the first Democratic presidential candidate debate Tuesday night, 9 p.m. on CNN? Send your reactions to the debate Tuesday by midnight to Len@MarylandReporter.com. Debate reactions were some of our most popular stories in last year’s race for governor.***

FEAR AND LOATHING WITH O’MALLEY: You have to be of a certain age to remember Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism and his book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” CNN revives the images with a video recreation of Thompson interviewing Martin O’Malley in a car ride through the desert about his presidential campaign.

***FINAL REDISTRICTING HEARING: The final regional hearing of the Governor’s Redistricting Commission takes place Tuesday evening, Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m., Partnership Hall,  8011 Fifth St., Laurel, MD***

Taney bust_frederickTANEY BUST VANDALIZED: Frederick police are investigating the vandalism of a bust honoring the Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision affirming slavery, according to an AP story in the WMAR-TV. Authorities say the bust of Roger Brooke Taney was found covered in a red paint-like substance Sunday morning.