State Roundup, December 2, 2015

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ADDRESSING OPIOID PROBLEMS: A task force named by Gov. Larry Hogan to address Maryland’s heroin overdose problem concluded its work Tuesday by recommending expanded access to treatment, tighter monitoring of prescription drugs and greater focus on groups like inmates and ex-offenders, reports Jean Marbella for the Sun.

FRANCHOT TARGETS TAX CRIMES: Maryland’s comptroller on Tuesday proposed legislation to boost penalties for tax-related crimes and increase the state’s prevention and enforcement efforts, CNS’s Naomi Eide reports in MarylandReporter.com. “Tax fraud and identity theft associated with it are a growing concern across the country as personal information becomes more and more available to perpetrators and as schemes become more and more sophisticated,” said Peter Franchot.

PROPOSED POWER PLANT COULD LOSE PERMIT: Christina Jedra of the Annapolis Capital reports that a proposed Baltimore power plant may be in jeopardy of losing its construction permit. Brooklyn Park community groups have fought the project for years. In a Nov. 24 letter, Maryland Department of Energy Secretary Ben Grumbles asks the president of Energy Answers International to provide documents that show that construction of the project has not ceased for more than 18 months, which would be in violation of federal requirements.

HOTTEN NAMED TO APPEALS COURT: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday named Michele Hotten to Maryland’s top court, the Court of Appeals, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports. Hotten has served on the Court of Special Appeals since August 2010. She had served on the Prince George’s County Circuit Court for 15 years prior to her appointment by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley to the intermediate appellate court.

CONTENTIOUS LIQUOR HEARING IN MO CO: It’s been a good long time since a room full of union members cheered Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. But the peculiar politics of liquor control produced just such a scene at a contentious state legislative hearing that ended shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday in Rockville, writes Bill Turque for the Post. Leggett told members of the Montgomery delegation that the county risked a huge financial hit if the General Assembly passed a bill that placed privatization of the county’s liquor monopoly on the 2016 ballot.

NONPROFIT TAX CREDITS: Four Anne Arundel County nonprofits will receive $130,000 in state tax credits that will refund people half their donations made in 2016.  Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday that the Department of Housing and Community Development will give $1.75 million in tax credits to organizations in 14 counties and Baltimore City, reports Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.

GANSLER NAMES SPEC PROSECUTOR: Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has been appointed a special prosecutor in a lurid Pennsylvania corruption case involving charges that high officials exchanged pornographic and racist emails through their state accounts, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. Gansler, an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor last year, was recruited for the job by embattled Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

O’MALLEY COURTS HOUSE DEMS: CNS’s Jon Banister, in an article in MarylandReporter.com, writes that former Gov. Martin O’Malley met with the U.S. House Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning in an effort to earn more support for his presidential run as he continues to struggle in the polls. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has been endorsed by 38 senators and 144 House members, including every Democrat in the Maryland delegation.

KEFALAS RUNS FOR SENATE: After months of fundraising and campaigning for the job, a former aide to Republican Gov. Bob. Ehrlich announced late Tuesday that he will seek the GOP nomination for Senate in Maryland. Chrys Kefalas, an openly gay Republican who also worked in the Obama administration, pointed to Gov. Larry Hogan’s success in last year’s gubernatorial election as evidence that the GOP can win statewide elections in Maryland despite the Democrats’ 2-1 advantage in voter registration, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

MORE BACK VAN HOLLEN FOR SENATE: The political arm of the immigrant advocacy organization CASA of Maryland announced Tuesday that it is backing U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the U.S. Senate race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara  Mikulski, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.

  • A handful of prominent Baltimore-area Democratic women are organizing an event for Maryland Senate candidate Chris Van Hollen, including a powerful state lawmaker and the chief of staff to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The event, scheduled for Dec. 10, is being organized by Del. Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County, Baltimore NAACP President Tessa Hill-Aston and Rawlings-Blake chief of staff Kaliope Parthemos, among others, according to an invitation obtained by The Sun.

MILTON TAKES BUYOUT: Wayne Carter has been named the new editor of the Carroll County Times, effective Dec. 28. He will oversee the daily newspaper, its website at www.carrollcountytimes.com and its other publications. Carter will be replacing Paul Milton, who recently decided to take advantage of a Tribune Publishing voluntary employee separation program after 32 years with the Baltimore Sun Media Group. (Paul Milton, Len Lazarick and Cynthia Prairie worked together for Patuxent Publishing in Towson when we were all quite young.)