State Roundup, January 25, 2016

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THE CLEANUP: Maryland will seek disaster relief from FEMA as the state continues to emerge from its heaviest ever snowfall, Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday morning. Hogan thanked people for mostly staying home but urged residents to continue to be patient as state and local road crews continue to try and clear snow, Ian Duncan reports for the Sun.

Gov. Hogan talks to reports at State Highway Administration Statewide Operations Center in Hanover near BWI. Photo by Governor's Office.

Gov. Hogan talks to reports at State Highway Administration Statewide Operations Center in Hanover near BWI. Photo by Governor’s Office.

THE CLOSINGS: Maryland state government offices will be closed today as the winter storm cleanup continues, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Sunday. Emergency essential personnel should report as scheduled. But the Maryland State House and General Assembly open at noon, according to the Sun.

HOGAN’S BUDGET: There’s not much in Gov. Larry Hogan’s spending proposals that General Assembly Democrats don’t like, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be wrangling.Michael Dresser of the Sun writes that legislative leaders are likely to try to adjust Hogan’s plans for who should receive tax breaks. And they want to guarantee that money is spent on their cherished priorities in the future.

GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY: The Free State Foundation’s Randolph J. May and Michael J. Horney publish an article on how Maryland can achieve government efficiency and government reform.

ENCOURAGING STEM STUDIES: A state delegate from Montgomery County wants Maryland students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math education outside of the classroom and is asking the state to chip in by supporting robotics clubs and competitions, Daniel Leaderman reports for the Daily Record.

SHERIFF SUPPORTS KILLING GUN FEE: Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler,  is working with state legislators during the Maryland General Assembly session in Annapolis to modify portions of the state’s gun laws. He recently expressed his support of a proposal by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to eliminate a $50 application fee for a handgun license, David Anderson of the Sun reports.

HOGAN ON THE LINE? Two weeks ago Gov. Larry Hogan told Democratic and Republican legislators if they had a phone they had an open channel to talk to him. But some legislators say that pledge isn’t all it seemed, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

ANNAPOLIS UPDATE: WYPR-FM talks about the beginning of the 436th session of the Maryland General Assembly, which began more than 10 days ago. The first two minutes are taken up with the snowstorm. But then WYPR’s Tom Hall, Rachel Baye and Fraser Smith get down to business on what has happened thus far.

FROM STATE HOUSE TO CAPITOL HILL? Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that six state lawmakers are campaigning this year to leave the State House in favor of a seat in the U.S. Capitol, and a seventh says he will file campaign documents within a week with hope to make the move to Congress as well. If victorious, five of the declared candidates – all Democrats – may be in for a rude awakening.

MCDONOUGH SEEKS TO OUST RUPPERSBERGER: Del. Pat McDonough, a staunchly conservative Republican, said Thursday that he will seek the GOP nomination this spring to unseat longtime U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record.  “We’re moving in the wrong direction,” McDonough said, citing rises in terrorism and illegal immigration. “We not only need a new president, we need some new votes in Congress.”

BROWN CHIPS AWAY CAMPAIGN DEBT: Former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who borrowed $500,000 from a union during the waning weeks of his unsuccessful 2014 run for governor, has begun to chip away at that debt, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. Brown, who is now running for Congress, repaid $40,000 to the Laborers Political Education Fund in $10,000 increments between March and December, according to a campaign finance report he filed this week.

FRANCHOT’S POPULARITY: Comptroller Peter Franchot is a supremely popular candidate, writes Adam Pagnucco in a guest column for the Seventh State blog. He analyzes Franchot’s statewide elections numbers compared to gubernatorial candidates Anthony Brown and Larry Hogan in 2014 and in a county-by-county breakdown with Brown. The numbers speak volumes about Franchot’s popularity.

ZUCKER BACKED FOR SENATE SEAT: Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat writes that the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee overwhelmingly recommended that Del. Craig Zucker be appointed to succeed former Sen. Karen Montgomery, who last month resigned from the District 14 seat she had held for the past five years.

HOGAN FOR 8: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that Stephen Skippen went to the campaign rallies that Change Maryland held for Republican Larry Hogan two years ago and partied at Hogan’s inaugural ball last January. He was one of about 1,200 people who crammed into a large room to mark the one-year anniversary of Hogan’s inauguration as Maryland’s 62nd governor. And by the sound of Hogan’s speech, Skippen may be in party mode for quite a while.

LEOPOLD CIVIL TRIAL POSTPONED: A civil trial involving former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold, slated to start today, has been postponed because of snow, Amanda Yeager reports in the Annapolis Capital. Leopold was due back in Circuit Court for a case related to the dossiers he allegedly kept on political rivals, but the trial has been delayed with the closing of Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Monday.

PURPLE LINE VICTORY: Maryland’s highest court ruled Friday that a Chevy Chase man can’t claim ownership of land behind his house and in the path of the planned Purple Line light-rail, reports Aaron Kraut for Bethesda Beat.