State Roundup, May 5, 2016

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STATE NEARING CLEAN AIR GOALS: Maryland’s air quality has improved drastically in recent years and is on track to meet strict new federal standards, Josh Hicks of the Post writes about the new report this week from the state’s Department of the Environment.

GIFTS FOR THE GOV: Gov. Larry Hogan has received more than $7,000 worth of gifts since he took office in January 2015, mostly modest trinkets and items from well-wishers after the governor made his cancer diagnosis public, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports. The gifts range from a $1 Livestrong bracelet to a $500 membership at Baltimore’s posh members-only Center Club, according to a filing with the State Ethics Commission. Hogan even reported two rosaries blessed at the Vatican, given to him and his wife by Pope Francis in Washington.

HOGAN TOUTS BUY LOCAL: Marylanders will have the chance this week to submit their favorite original recipes for a statewide competition. The Hogan administration is looking for chefs who use local ingredients to submit original recipes for the Governor’s Buy Local Cookout, according to a news release. The event will be held at Government House in Annapolis on July 21.

DEMS TAP HOGAN AS MEMBER OF ‘SILENT 9:’ An association of Democratic governors has tagged Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan as an original member of what it is calling the “Silent 9,” a group of Republican governors who have refused to say whether they would support Donald Trump on the ballot in November, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

SZELIGA SEES PURPLE, VICTORY: Faith Pinho of the Washington Times writes that House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga doesn’t see blue when she thinks about Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-to-1. To her, it’s purple because of the 2014 election of Gov. Larry Hogan, the state’s first Republican governor since 2007. And she hopes it becomes even more purple in her bid to become Maryland’s first Republican U.S. senator since 1987.

SARBANES SPEAKS: Tom Hall of WYPR-FM’s Maryland Morning, interviews U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat who has represented Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House since 2007. He sailed through last month’s primary election, winning 87% of the Democratic vote. The 53-year-old incumbent will face businessman, lawyer and physician Mark Plaster, who won the Republican primary last week.

CARSON’S NEXT TRUMP GIG: Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he expected to reveal his vice presidential pick sometime in July — before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland — but added that he would soon announce a committee to handle the selection process, which would include Dr. Ben Carson, Maggie Haberman and Ashley Parker report in the New York Times.

EDITOR AWAY: Editor Len Lazarick is away. If there is a problem with roundup or the newsletter, contact roundup editor Cynthia Prairie at cynthiaprairie@gmail.com; if there is a problem with the website or one of the stories published there contact Meg Tully at megctully@gmail.com.

PART 4, KEEPING COMMUNITY HEALTHY: : Part 4 in a five-part series from the project “In Poor Health” produced by Capital News Service and Kaiser Health News. It explores why Baltimore’s world-renowned health system is struggling to keep Freddie Gray’s neighbors — some of the city’s poorest residents — from getting sick. Rachel Greenwald writes the article, which appears in MarylandReporter.com.

DIXON GAINS VOTES: State Sen. Catherine Pugh remained more than 2,500 votes ahead of former Mayor Sheila Dixon on Wednesday as city elections officials worked to count the final ballots in the Democratic primary for mayor of Baltimore City, reports Ian Duncan and Michael Dresser for the Sun. Dixon gained 485 votes on Pugh by early evening.

PUGH YES, RECOUNT YES: The editorial board for the Sun writes that while it endorsed Catherine Pugh for Baltimore City mayor, it thinks that based on “everything we have seen so far from the preliminary counting of votes from last week’s election, we expect she will be the Democratic nominee. That said, we have no quarrel with former mayor Sheila Dixon or anyone else scrutinizing the results and questioning the voting process.”

PENSION CONTRIBUTIONS: Baltimore County will begin phasing in age-neutral pension contribution rates July 1 as a partial settlement of a federal age-discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Lauren Kirkwood reports for the Daily Record. The lawsuit, filed in 2007, challenged the county’s practice of requiring older employees to contribute more to their pension plans than younger colleagues who’ve worked for the county for the same length of time in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.