State Roundup, February 9, 2016

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CLUSTER QUESTIONS ZUCKER’S 2nd VOTE: On the eve of what is expected to be a close vote in the Maryland Senate to expand felon voting rights, Joe Cluster, executive director of the state GOP, said Sen. Craig Zucker should recuse himself when the Senate votes on whether to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a 2015 bill that would allow felons to vote while on parole or probation since he already voted as a delegate, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post.

FTA GIVES METRO DEADLINE: The Federal Transit Administration has given Virginia, Maryland and the District a year to create a safety oversight body for Metro or risk losing millions in federal transportation funding, report Luz Lazo and Ashley Halsey for the Post.

LOCAL OPPOSITION TO INDUSTRIAL CHICKEN FARMS: One by one, neighbors of a proposed 13-house poultry complex implored Wicomico County Council members to do anything in their power to halt the project. But all across the Peninsula, local protests represent an unprecedented backlash against one of the region’s largest and most iconic industries. Jeremy Cox of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the political reaction has been unprecedented as well, with several jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia moving to clamp down on industrial-scale farming.

STATEWIDE PUBLIC NOTICES LEGISLATION: Although Anne Arundel County has withdrawn a proposal to advertise some public notices on the government’s website rather than in newspapers, other bills in the legislature could have similar implications across the state. Sen. Nancy King has two pieces of legislation, requested by Montgomery County, pending in the General Assembly, both of which are statewide bills, Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital is reporting.

NEW BAG FEE AIMS TO CURB TRASH: Supporters of an effort to reduce the use of plastic and paper bags say a proposed new fee would help encourage shoppers to consider the environment at the same time they are looking for the best deals. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that environmentalists say House Bill 31, which will be part of a House Environment and Transportation hearing Wednesday, is meant to reduce the amount of plastic bag litter in trees and waterways but also to force a behavioral change and move consumers to reusable cloth and plastic shopping bags.

FOR-PROFIT COLLEGE ACCOUNTABILITY: A pair of bills in the General Assembly requires for-profit colleges to provide first-time, full-time undergraduates with a standardized form known as the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet in an attempt to get more transparency from these schools and restrict the claims they can make about their programs, Daniel Leaderman of the Daily Record writes.

CLARITY FOR NEW DIVORCE LAW: Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports that, four months after Maryland’s law permitting divorce by mutual consent went into effect, pending legislation in the General Assembly session seeks to clarify the process, which in practice varies depending on the jurisdiction.

BPW TO SETTLE SUIT: Maryland officials are poised to pay $75,000 to an African-American state highway worker who says he was harassed, assaulted and called racial epithets by a boss who wore a Confederate flag T-shirt in the workplace, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

SNOWS SCOTCH HOGAN-CHRISTIE PLAN: An impending winter storm prompted Gov. Larry Hogan to cut short his political trip to New Hampshire, where he had been campaigning since Saturday on behalf of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential bid. Hogan aides said Monday the Republican governor will return to Maryland two days early because a potentially severe storm. The National Weather Service said it could dump as much as 10 inches in the Baltimore area, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

FUTURE OF MD DEMS: In this video interview, Maryland Democratic Party Executive Director Patrick Murray talks with Damian O’Doherty of Center Maryland on the future of his organization. Even with the loss of the governor’s mansion, Murray believes the party remains quite strong in the state. Democrats, he points out, hold seven of eight house seats and a veto-proof legislature.

AA DEMS BOOT PRESIDENTS FROM DINNER: Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson have lost their seats at the annual Anne Arundel County Democratic dinner. A spokesman for the county Democratic Central Committee said the name of the annual fundraiser was changed this year from the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to simply the Celebration Dinner, Rick Hutzell reports for the Annapolis Capital. The presidents, early founders of the Democratic Party, have both undergone a reassessment of their place in the panoply of American historical figures.

BROWN ENDORSES CLINTON: Former Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who is a candidate in the state’s 4th Congressional District race, announced early Monday that he is endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination for president, Arelis Hernandez of the Post writes.

JAWANDO CRITICIZES RASKIN: In candidate forums, Democrats running for Maryland’s 8th Congressional District nomination almost always avoid direct challenges to opponents, talking up their own records instead. Will Jawando tried a more aggressive approach Saturday, using the African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County’s annual State of Black Montgomery conference to call out state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) for a vote on a criminal justice issue, writes Bill Turque for the Post.

UNION ENDORSEMENTS: The Post’s Bill Turque reports that two major unions have announced endorsements in Maryland’s 8th District Democratic Congressional Primary. On Monday,  Del. Kumar Barve received the support of UNITE HERE Local 7, which represents about 15,000 hotel, casino, cafeteria and airport workers in Maryland and D.C. Sen. Jamie Raskin was endorsed late last week by Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents 12,400 members in Maryland retail food, health care, food processing and other industries.

TRONE SKIPS FORUM: For much of Saturday’s District 8 congressional forum in Silver Spring, the candidates present ignored the elephant in the room. David Trone, who entered the  contest 10 days ago, attended an informal breakfast prior to the annual summit of the county’s African-American Democratic Club.  But he did not participate in the club’s one-hour candidate forum held at midday, writes Louis Peck for Bethesda Beat.

NO BLACK REP ON AA ED BOARD: For the first time in at least 42 years, the Anne Arundel County school board will not have a single black representative among its members. Terry Gilleland, who is white, and Maria Sasso, who is Hispanic, will replace Debbie Ritchie and Solon Webb on the nine-member Anne Arundel County Board of Education. Webb was the lone black representative, and though he sought reappointment, Gov. Larry Hogan did not select him, Elisha Sauers of the Annapolis Capital is reporting.

COUNTY WON’T BUY HOPKINS HOME: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh says he will not consider buying Whites Hall, the home in Gambrills where Johns Hopkins was born, using government funds, Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports. The future of the late-18th century, Georgian-style house is in limbo following a developer’s request last month for permission to tear it down.

COLLEGE SUES CAROLINE COMMISSIONERS: Chesapeake College filed a lawsuit Monday, Feb. 8, in Caroline County Circuit Court, seeking a declaratory judgment forcing the Caroline County commissioners to pay $51,280 it believes is owed for maintenance and repair costs. Maryland law requires Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, Queen Anne’s and Kent counties to support the regional community college, Abby Andrews of the Easton Star Democrat reports.