State Roundup, March 15, 2016

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SAME TUNE, NEW LYRICS: A compromise on a new Maryland state song is moving forward in the General Assembly, writes Pamela Wood in the Sun. The state Senate will begin considering a bill today to relegate the current pro-Confederacy lyrics to “Maryland, My Maryland” by James Ryder Randall to the status of “historic state song.” And it would establish a new “official state song,” combining one of Randall’s verses with part of a poem written in 1894. The words would be set to the same tune, which most people know as “O Christmas Tree.”

HOGAN SUPPORTERS ARE …: A new poll shows the Democrats who approve of Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan are more likely to be African-American. Or young. Or lack a college degree. A survey of 802 primary voters conducted for the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore this month found what several other polls have also concluded: Hogan is pretty popular among voters of both parties, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.

2 POLS WANT HOGAN TO  FESS UP: Two prominent Maryland Democrats on Monday joined calls for Gov. Larry Hogan to say whether he would support Donald Trump if the GOP frontrunner wins the nomination for president, writes John Fritze for the Sun. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, a Democrat who some believe is eyeing a gubernatorial campaign in 2018, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat currently running for Senate, said that it is time for Hogan to “come clean.”

CONSTRUCTION COST BILL FAILS: A bill intended to help alleviate construction costs related to career and technology center buildings failed to pass committee last week, writes Heather Norris in the Carroll County Times. The bill would have exempted public work contracts for the construction or renovation of career and technology centers or for classroom space designated for science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics education from prevailing wage law. In effect, the bill would have allowed for construction work on some school buildings to be done at a lower cost by allowing workers to be paid less.

TAX RELIEF: Maryland residents could see some form of tax relief as part of a proposal that could make its way to the Senate as early as next week, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. That’s the word from Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer,  chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Kasemeyer hinted at the possibility Monday night during a discussion of the committee’s work on Gov. Larry Hogan’s second budget.

BOOST FOR COLLEGE RESEARCH: Amid a landscape of increasing competition for scientific research grants from the federal government, a state program, known as the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative, is giving institutions like Washington College a chance to try new things, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

POLS BACK VAN HOLLEN: Maryland Senate President Mike Miller has joined the ranks of prominent politicians backing Rep. Chris Van Hollen in the state’s tightly contested Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat, writes Josh Hicks in the Post. Miller said in an interview that Van Hollen’s deep ties with Maryland’s political establishment and his experience driving legislative initiatives would make him a more effective leader than his opponent, U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards.

SPACE UNION BLASTS EDWARDS: A union that represents workers at the Goddard Space Flight Center is criticizing Rep. Donna Edwards’ handling of a racial complaint they said they raised years ago with her congressional office but received little response. The space workers group is the second to directly note why they are opposing Edwards, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

SUNSHINE WEEK: While Maryland has taken some significant steps to improve public information in the recent year, there is still much work to do. Therefore, the timing of Sunshine Week, which falls in the midst of the 90-day General Assembly session, is well placed to highlight the opportunity for the state to make continued improvements, write Rebecca Snyder of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and Jennifer Bevan-Dangel of Common Cause in a Sun op-ed.  Founded in 2005, Sunshine Week promotes open government and public access to information.

IVEY AIRING COMMERCIAL: Former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey will begin airing the first television advertisement in the race for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District today, doubling down on a general election message heavy with references to President Barack Obama, John Fritze reports for the Sun. The story is topped by the commercial.

  • Ivey has purchased about $16,000 worth of television air time, the first candidate in the 4th District contest to do so, writes Arelis R. Hernandez in the Post. One ad will begin airing this week and is titled “New Low.” In it, Ivey, a former Prince George’s County state’s attorney, accuses Republicans of disrespecting President Obama.

THE 8TH DISTRICT DIFFERENCE: For the past year we have seen hundreds of reminders that a competitive race in Maryland’s 8th congressional district is different from elections everyplace else, writes Josh Kurtz for Center Maryland. Whether it’s the pedigree of the contenders, their ability to raise and spend money, their prior links to Capitol Hill and national policy debates, and the political sophistication of the electorate, there’s nothing quite like a Democratic primary where candidates are pandering to voters who imagine themselves as the next Deputy Secretary of Something in the Hillary Clinton administration.

SNIPING IN THE 8TH: A League of Women Voters candidate forum in Frederick Sunday made apparent to the voting public what has been clear in party circles in recent days: With six weeks to go until Primary Day, the gloves are off in the nine-way race for the District 8 Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Chris Van Hollen. Much of the sniping at the debate involved state Sen. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park and Total Wine & More co-owner David Trone of Potomac, reports Louis Peck for Bethesda Beat.

  • A Montgomery County Council member says the campaign of congressional candidate David Trone has resorted to “a cheap and lazy way to build name recognition” by illegally placing Trone yard signs in the middle of busily traveled roadways and in other prominent locations, Aaron Kraut of Bethesda Beat reports.
  • Sen. Jamie Raskin was on the defensive early in the debate, writes Bill Turque in the Post. Wine retailer David Trone and former news anchor Kathleen Matthews blasted Raskin and Del. Kumar P. Barve, another candidate in the race, for the redrawn congressional boundaries that they voted for in the state legislature in 2011. The map paved the way for a Democrat to be elected in Maryland’s 6th Congressional district, a seat that was previously held by a Republican. It is frequently cited as an example of the kind of blatant “gerrymandering” that has led to polarization and partisan gridlock in Congress.