State Roundup, October 20, 2015

Print More

EXPORT MARKETS: Baltimore area businesses are missing out on a crucial opportunity — exporting goods and services to a growing global market — a business advocacy group said in a report released Monday, Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports. Exports make up less than 7% of the region’s economy, a share that puts the Baltimore area well behind other regions, according to an export market assessment led by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

AUDIT CRITICAL OF DBED PROCESS: Maryland economic development programs relied too much on information provided by companies getting state benefits and too little on rigorous documentation, according to a highly critical audit released Monday. Legislative auditors found 11 categories of lapses during their examination of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, which was renamed the Department of Commerce by Gov. Larry Hogan, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

PANEL EYES REDUCING INCARCERATION: A state panel is eyeing changes to Maryland’s probation system to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated, using the savings to pay for additional drug and mental health treatment and other recidivism reduction programs, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes.

VOTER EDUCATION: A stalled plan to educate voters on a new paper balloting system has some good government groups asking the Board of Public Works to reconsider its June decision to reject a nearly $2 million public awareness campaign. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that with no Plan B immediately in place there is growing concern for the April 2016 presidential primary elections and some angst over a municipal election in Rockville next month.

POLICE MILITARIZATION: After observing armored vehicles on national TV during the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., a Maryland lawmaker wants to know when local police ask for military equipment and what they want, Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital reports. Sen. Bryan Simonaire said he plans to file a bill in the 2016 legislative session that would require both chairmen of the Maryland House and Senate delegations to be notified within 15 days when military equipment is requested in their jurisdictions.

SUPREMES TAKE UP MD CASE: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to wade into a Maryland dispute with national implications, over whether a state can offer ratepayer subsidies to get a power plant built in its borders, writes Tim Wheeler in the Sun. The high court decided to hear two cases involving a deal the state Public Service Commission struck to get the first new power plant built in Maryland in years. Seeking to address a perceived shortage of energy-generating facilities in the state and address potential reliability problems, the commission solicited bids and offered a long-term contract for the power, with a guaranteed price.

EXPERIMENTAL DRUGS: Calling it “the other side” of the death-with-dignity debate, Sen. Bryan Simonaire wants the state to give terminally ill patients a chance to try experimental drugs that have yet to earn U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, Elisha Sauer writes in the Annapolis Capital.

Former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Bobby Zirkin at a fundraiser for Hillary at the home of Senate President Mike Miller. Zirkin recalled heading a 1996 outreach effort for Clinton and his speech at the Democratic Convention that year.

Former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Bobby Zirkin at a fundraiser for Hillary at the home of Senate President Mike Miller Monday. Zirkin recalled heading a 1996 outreach effort for Clinton and his speech at the Democratic Convention that year.

AA PUBLIC HEARINGS ON RX POT: Anne Arundel County’s seven-member legislative body held the first public hearing on a dueling set of bills that are aimed at regulating where medical marijuana facilities can operate — with one posing stricter restrictions than the other, Rema Rahman writes in the Annapolis Capital. A vote on both measures was delayed to the council’s Nov. 2 meeting — one because of significant amendments and the other held until an outcome on changes is finalized.

FLAWED POLLING: In a column for his politicalmaryland.com blog, Barry Rascovar writes: True or false: Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore would easily defeat the two most prominent contenders for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski next year. If you believe the Washington Post poll published last Friday, the answer is “true.”  But don’t believe everything you see in polls, especially polling snapshots that contain serious and disturbingly invalid tabulations.

EDWARDS SLAMS VAN HOLLEN: Rep. Donna Edwards has for weeks criticized her opponent in Maryland’s Senate race for a fundraiser hosted by a former Wall Street lobbyist, arguing the event underscores Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s relationship with the financial sector, writes John Fritze in the Sun. The Van Hollen campaign counters that the former lobbyist and the other hosts of the fundraiser are involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

MATTHEWS DEFENDS FUNDING: Maryland congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews, who has surged ahead of state Sen. Jamie Raskin  in fundraising, pushed back Monday against charges that her support relies heavily on big money from outside the state, writes Bill Turque in the Post.  Matthews, the former WJLA news anchor and Marriott executive, has raised just over $1 million since announcing her candidacy for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, federal campaign filings show.

MO CO BOE RESTORES POLLING PLACE: The Montgomery County Board of Elections ended nearly a month of partisan wrangling Monday by voting unanimously to restore a Bethesda community center to its list of nine early balloting sites for 2016, reports Bill Turque in the Post. The Republican majority on the five-member board had little choice after the Maryland Board of Elections last week rejected its plan to drop the Jane Lawton Community Recreation Center in favor of the Potomac Community Recreation Center on Falls Road, about 10 miles away.

LIVING SHORELINES: Pines on the Severn, a small community on Chase Creek, off the Severn River just above Annapolis, recently completed a living shoreline, a project that can show us all how much perseverance it sometimes takes to do the right thing for the environment, and why it’s worth it, writes Dick Williams for MarylandReporter.com. Why not regionally develop a list of aging bulkheads throughout the watershed to stimulate and prioritize local remedial action where critical areas of failing shoreline habitat are due in part to these structures?

COUNCIL WANTS TO KILL RAIN TAX: Members of the Baltimore County Council want to phase out the stormwater remediation fee assessed to county property owners — often criticized as a “rain tax” — over the next two years, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. A bill introduced Monday by the council would reduce the stormwater fee on next summer’s property tax bills, then eliminate it entirely the year after that.The measure was sponsored by all seven council members — assuring its passage even if it is vetoed by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

TRANSPARENCY IN HO CO SCHOOLS: In response to constituent complaints about the Howard County Public School System’s handling of public records requests, state Del. Warren Miller has drafted a bill intended to increase transparency and accountability in the process, writes Amanda Yeager in the Howard County Times. Miller’s legislation would “force a better control and release of information” from the school district to the public, according to the Republican, who represents western Howard County.

COMMISSIONER TAPPED FOR EM PANEL: Carroll County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, has been tapped by the governor’s administration to participate in an effort to revamp the state’s emergency management strategy writes Wiley Hayes in the Carroll County Times. On Oct. 9, Wantz was officially named to the governor’s Emergency Management Advisory Council, a collection of professionals and academics in the emergency management field who advise the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.