State Roundup, November 10, 2015

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MARYLAND RANKS 23RD IN TRANSPARENCY: Maryland’s disastrous health exchange rollout combined two elements — procurement problems and lack of transparency — that are among several recurring themes that led to the state earning a score of 64, or a D grade, ranking it 23rd among the 50 states in the State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of state government accountability and transparency by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity. Miranda Spivack did the assessment and the article appears in MarylandReporter.com.

DEMS POUND HOGAN ON ED FUNDS: Democrats who represent some of Maryland’s costliest school districts have again called on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to release money earmarked for them by the legislature, accusing the governor of hurting schoolchildren to make a political point, Erin Cox reports in the Sun. “Governor, letting the money just sit there doesn’t help anyone,” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Monday at a news conference outside the State House in Annapolis. “We appreciate fiscal responsibility, but governor, your actions have nothing to do with fiscal responsibility.”

Del. Bob Long of Dundalk discusses the maglev train project with Japanese representatives next to a model of the high-speed train at a reception Monday night at the home of Japan's ambassador.

Del. Bob Long of Dundalk discusses the maglev train project with Japanese representatives next to a model of the high-speed train at a reception Monday night at the home of Japan’s ambassador.

MAGLEV STUDY FUNDS BOON FOR COMPANIES: Adam Bednar of the Daily Record writes that federal funds awarded to study building a superconducting magnetic levitation train line between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is a big win for private firms backing the project. This weekend state officials announced the Federal Railroad Administration had granted $27.8 million to start studying and planning how to build a line. The funds will now be directed to Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail. The state only operated as a conduit for the funds but will work as an administrator on the grant.

JAPANESE TIES: Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae hosted scores of Maryland senators and delegates at his official residence in Washington Monday night to celebrate increasing business ties with Maryland, Len Lazarick writes in MarylandReporter.com. “More than 6,000 Japanese already live in Maryland,” Sasae told a crowd of several hundred that included many of those residents. “Roughly 600 Japanese companies operate there, providing about 10,000 jobs for the citizens of Maryland.”

RX POT & THE LAW: The editorial board for the Frederick News Post opines that  Kevin Klink and partners are among a number of interested parties who have applied for one of 15 state licenses to operate a medical marijuana growing operation in Frederick County. If Sheriff Chuck Jenkins had his way, those applications would be denied. Jenkins believes that efforts to legalize medical marijuana are nothing more than a ruse. But the fact is that the General Assembly legalized it. It’s the law.

A CLEAN FIGHT: When Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) announced last week that he was joining an effort by 17 other states to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, he became the third attorney general in the country to break with his governor on litigation involving President Obama’s signature climate policy. But this nationwide argument, writes Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland, involves more than party and more than climate.

VAN HOLLEN AIRS NEW AD: Rep. Chris Van Hollen is subtly taking on his opponent for Senate in a new television ad that began running in Baltimore on Monday — offering a tweaked message intended to draw a contrast with Rep. Donna Edwards, writes John Fritze for the Sun. “It’s important to know when to fight, and when to find common ground,” Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, says in the ad. “I’m Chris Van Hollen, and I know the difference.”

FADDIS ANNOUNCES FOR HOYER SEAT: Flanked by Anne Arundel County Republicans, Davidsonville resident Sam Faddis announced Monday he will seek the congressional seat in District 5. He’s one of four candidates making their future political plans known this week. Faddis is attempting to beat longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, who has held the seat since 1981, Rema Rahman reports for the Annapolis Capital.

END MO CO LIQUOR SYSTEM: State Comptroller Peter Franchot, in an op-ed in the Post, again urges ending Montgomery County’s liquor control system, writing that unlike any other jurisdiction in Maryland, Montgomery County directly controls both the retail sales of liquor and the wholesale distribution system. Therefore, every alcoholic beverage bought in Montgomery County, including beer and wine or an adult beverage at a restaurant or bar, must be purchased through the government. In a highly competitive industry, in a county that neighbors five jurisdictions, local government has a monopoly over the alcohol we buy.

EARLY AA COUNCIL RACE LINEUP: It’s three years until the next County Council election, but two Republicans already are saying they’ll run in District 7, reports Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital. Jonathan Boniface, leader of the Build Crofton High School movement, said he is in the 2018 election. Michelle Corkadel, who works in County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration, said Monday she also planned to seek the seat — her third such attempt.