State Roundup, October 26, 2015

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POLLUTION TRADING PLAN ANNOUNCED: The Hogan administration announced Friday a renewed effort to devise a “pollution trading” system in Maryland, which proponents contend could speed cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay by lowering the cost, Timothy Wheeler of the Sun is reporting. Environmentalists reacted cautiously, saying the idea has potential but could worsen pollution if not done carefully.

OVERRUN BY STANDARDIZED TESTS: The number of standardized tests U.S. public school students take has exploded in the past decade, with most schools requiring too many tests of dubious value, according to the first comprehensive survey of the nation’s largest districts, Lyndsey Layton of the Post is reporting.

COLLEGE READINESS: When new test scores assessing whether Maryland high school students are prepared for college are released later this month, officials say the news is likely to be bad, writes Daniel Leaderman for the Daily Record. It’s also likely to spark serious discussion among lawmakers in Annapolis about remedial education in Maryland and how to improve college readiness, state Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Democrat from Baltimore City, told University System of Maryland leaders.

STATE BOE ENDS MO CO DISPUTE: The State Board of Elections ended a dispute over early voting sites in Montgomery County on Friday by ratifying a decision by the local board keep two locations it had previously tried to close. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that the state board voted 5-0 to approve the agreement reached by Montgomery Republicans and Democrats earlier this week.

Lou Davis, center, of Maryland Public Television was given the Gold Circle Award at the local Emmys honoring his long broadcasting career. Joined by his MPT colleagues Charles Robinson, left, and Jeff Salkin. Photo from Charles Robinson's Facebook page.

Lou Davis, center, of Maryland Public Television was given the Gold Circle Award at the local Emmys honoring his long broadcasting career. Joined by his MPT colleagues Charles Robinson, left, and Jeff Salkin. Photo from Charles Robinson’s Facebook page.

POTENTIAL HUMAN DISASTER: In a column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks writes, “to all the politicians, Republican and Democrat, who are currently experiencing an epiphany about this nation’s world-leading incarceration rate, I make a modest request: Please don’t start another round of deinstitutionalization without coughing up the money and services needed to avoid another human disaster on the streets of our cities and towns. The last time that happened, things didn’t work out so well.”

COURT CHIEF EYES EFFICIENCY: Maryland Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Peter B. Krauser, who will step down in May 2017 when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70, said his mission has been to make the state’s intermediate appellate court run more efficiently, responsively and productively. Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that toward that end, Krauser has recently made structural changes in the court’s administration, including the addition of 12 staff attorneys.

REACTION TO BALTIMORELINK PLAN: This 4-minute video by Stephen Janis on Real News about the Hogan CityLink transit plan has comments toward the end from former Mayor Sheila Dixon as well as Gov. Hogan on working with the current mayor on helping Baltimore City.

  • Political pundit Barry Rascovar gives odds on Gov. Hogan’s chances of success on revamping Baltimore City’s transit system. The odds, he writes in MarylandReporter.com, are stacked against him. He’s given himself an unrealistically short time frame (June 2017) to totally revamp a complex bus network. He’s underestimated the cost ($135 million) of pulling off such a massive turnaround and He’s got no support from key elected local executives.
  • The editorial board of the Frederick News Post is less than overwhelmed by Gov. Hogan’s transit plan, writing “It may have been coincidental that the unveiling of Gov. Larry Hogan’s $135 million transportation plan came the same week that Marty McFly traveled to 2015 in “Back to the Future” and introduced us to the possibility of flying skateboards and self-tying Nikes. Sadly, we don’t have those things, and it only contributed to our disappointment that the governor feels putting more wheels and more pollution and more congestion on Baltimore roads is a solid plan for Maryland’s future.”
  • It’s hard to look at Gov. Larry Hogan’s plans for a 12-route high-frequency bus service, called CityLink, without thinking of Baltimore’s free, currently running, four-route Charm City Circulator buses. And judging from the politicians on hand for Hogan unveiling his grand transit plan for Baltimore City Thursday, CityLink could very well change the way the circulator looks, writes Rick Seltzer for the Baltimore Business Journal.

FRANCHOT TACKS TO LEFT: Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has angered some of his fellow Democrats by aligning himself closely with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, has tacked back toward his party’s mainstream with enthusiastic praise for Hillary Clinton’s performance before the House Benghazi committee, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.

GUN SHOW STIRS CONCERN: Count Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) among the local officials who are unhappy about the gun show that will take place in the county Saturday, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post. “I do not believe a gun show is a legitimate activity to have in a parks facility,” he said Friday during a roundtable discussion about gun violence led by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

HARRIS ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD PANEL: Rep. Andy Harris was one of eight Republicans named Friday to a new select House panel that will investigate the abortion controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, John Fritze of the Sun reports. Harris, a Hopkins-trained anesthesiologist, has long been an ardent critic of federal funding for the organization. The Cockeysville lawmaker voted against a recent stop-gap budget to keep the government running, in part, over the issue.

EDWARDS LEADS IN POLLS: Ahead in the polls but lagging badly in fundraising, Rep. Donna F. Edwards this month embarked on a tour of Maryland colleges and senior centers to woo the state’s youngest and oldest voters in her race for the U.S. Senate, Josh Hicks reports for the Post.

O’MALLEY TOUTS STANDS IN IOWA: Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley urged party faithful in Iowa on Saturday to support a “new consensus for change” on gun control as he promoted his record in Maryland in an effort to draw distinctions with his better-known opponents, reports John Fritze for the Sun. The former two-term governor and Baltimore mayor delivered an energetic speech at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner — a key event in the presidential primary election calendar — focusing a significant amount of time on guns and immigration.

O’MALLEY ENDORSED: Brian Schweitzer, the former Montana governor who was once considered a potential presidential candidate, endorsed Martin O’Malley’s bid for the Democratic nomination on Friday, John Fritze of the Sun reports. Schweitzer, who has been critical of front-runner Hillary Clinton for many of the same reasons as O’Malley, will also serve as a national co-chair of the former Maryland governor’s campaign.

O’MALLEY’S MONEY: Whether anything does O’Malley any good on the fund-raising front has yet to be seen, writes CNS’s Jon Banister and Madeleine Deason in MarylandReporter.com. They analyze how much money has come in, where it has come from and where it is going. And it doesn’t look bright for the former Maryland governor.

STAY IN OR GET OUT? With less than 100 days to go before the Iowa caucuses, presidential hopefuls with dwindling bank accounts and bottom-scraping poll numbers are beginning to weigh the risks of staying in the race versus getting out, Noah Bierman and John Fritze report for the Sun.

MOSBY ANNOUNCES MAYORAL RUN: Baltimore City Councilman Nick J. Mosby is joining the race to be Baltimore’s next mayor, saying he can bridge the disconnect between the city’s boardrooms and its street corners. Mosby, 36, a first-term council member from Reservoir Hill, says his upbringing by a struggling single mother and work experience for two major companies make him uniquely qualified for the job, Yvonne Wenger and Luke Broadwater write for the Sun.

CONFLICT QUESTIONS ARISE: New mayoral candidate Nick J. Mosby is likely to face questions about whether his wife’s job as the city’s top prosecutor is a problem. Should Mosby win, he would have authority over the $38 million budget of his wife’s office and her more than 300 employees. He would need to balance funding of her initiatives as Baltimore state’s attorney with other city priorities, such as police, education and economic development, report Yvonne Wenger and Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

ETHICS AND FREDERICK COUNTY: The way Linda Norris-Waldt sees it, Frederick County, for a long time, was a place where public officials acted how they wanted and no one said a word. As the county grows and urbanizes, though, Norris-Waldt says people are talking, and asking more questions. The “genteel old-boy network” may not last long, she said. Jen Fifield reports about the changes in the Frederick County ethics laws for the Frederick News Post.

WA CO & S. KOREA MEET: Washington County Commissioner John F. Barr said he experienced a bit of “culture shock” after stepping off the airplane in Seoul, South Korea’s capital and largest city. “For me as a contractor, I gave up counting the amount of tower cranes. They’re just everywhere. They’re just so progressive, such a modern city, and they’re building everywhere,” said Barr, one of  the four-member county contingent, which visited the East Asia nation of about 50 million people last week to foster new government and business relationships that could bring new jobs and economic investment back to the county, CJ Lovelace writes in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.