State Roundup, May 31, 2016

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HOGAN VETOES BILLS: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed five bills Friday, characterizing some as meddling by the General Assembly and dismissing another as a tax. Three of the vetoes reject plans to increase oversight of the state’s mass transit agency, raise money to replace the Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge in Southern Maryland and increase the amount of electricity derived from renewable sources such as the sun or wind. Senate President Mike Miller, a Prince George’s County Democrat, declined to comment, Erin Cox and Michael Dresser report for the Sun.

HOPE FOR EQUAL PAY: Progressive activists organizing a blitz of equal-pay legislation in dozens of statehouses found some success in Maryland this year with the Democratic-majority legislature and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports. Earlier this month, Hogan signed measures expanding the state’s equal-pay law by prohibiting employers from retaliating against workers who discuss their wages and from providing less favorable advancement opportunities to women. Advocates say it’s the most comprehensive equal-pay legislation to become law so far in 2016.

PENSION MANAGER FEES: Liz Farmer of Governing Magazine reports that fees public pension plans pay Wall Street money managers — some of which go unreported — have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. It’s estimated that disclosed and undisclosed fees cost public plans upwards of $20 billion annually, according to the author of a new study. Jeff Hooke, of the right-leaning Maryland Public Policy Institute, estimates in the study that Maryland’s public employees’ plan paid $500 million in 2014 — twice as much as it reported for that year.

THIS AND THAT IN MARYLAND POLITICS: Political pundit Barry Rascovar muses on the Baltimore City elections screw up, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ role on the platform committee of the DNC and Donna Edwards in denial, among other things. The column appears in MarylandReporter.com.

OTHERS FLEW WITH PUGH: Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings was aboard the private jet that whisked Baltimore Democratic mayoral nominee Catherine E. Pugh to and from Las Vegas last weekend, the  Baltimore County Republican said Friday.  Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that Jennings confirmed that he joined Pugh and former Democratic Sens. Tommy Bromwell and John Pica Jr. on a flight provided by businessman Wayne A. Tilley Jr.

  • Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports that the pest control magnate who flew Catherine E. Pugh in his private jet to and from Las Vegas for the “Maryland Party” last Monday is no stranger to local politics. Walter A. Tilley Jr., his wife and his company, Home Paramount Pest Control, doled out more than $102,000 to Democratic and Republican campaigns and officeholders in Maryland since 2006, according to on-line records.

PURPLE LINE PEOPLE: On Thursday night in Silver Spring a man told community members his company would be responsible for building the 16-mile light-rail Purple Line. Herb Morgan, a senior vice president for the Fluor Corp., the construction firm that’s part of the Purple Line Transit Partners concessionaire team, spoke to community members for the first time in Maryland, about two months after the state’s Board of Public Works formally approved the concessionaire’s $5.6 billion, 36-year contract with the state to build and operate the line from Bethesda to New Carrollton, reports Andrew Metcalf in Bethesda Beat.

EDWARDS SILENT ON VAN HOLLEN: After a bruising primary race for Senate, Maryland Democrats have scheduled “unity” rallies and shifted their messaging to better fit the general election. But one piece of business from last month’s election remains conspicuously unresolved. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that Rep. Donna F. Edwards, who lost the contest for the party’s nomination, has yet to endorse the fellow Democrat and onetime ally who won: Rep. Chris Van Hollen.

VAN HOLLEN HIRES MURRAY: Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic nominee for Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s open Senate seat, has hired Pat Murray, the director of the state’s Democratic Party, to lead his campaign.  Murray, a State House veteran who was named the party’s executive director last year, will succeed Sheila O’Connell, who successfully steered the Van Hollen campaign through a feisty primary against Rep. Donna Edwards that captured national attention, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

SZELIGA BLASTS VA HEAD: As she prepares for her battle for the U.S. Senate, Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga is joining some of her potential GOP colleagues in condemning comments made by the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, comparing waits for medical care to lines at Disneyland, Phil Davis reports in the Annapolis Capital. Szeliga, who is running for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat in the Senate against Democratic challenger Rep. Chris Van Hollen, is one of a growing number of legislators criticizing Secretary Bob McDonald for comments he made at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Monday.

VOTE CHALLENGE DEADLINE: With unanswered questions at 71 Baltimore precincts, candidates must decide this week whether to mount a formal challenge to a primary election in which there was a series of irregularities. The campaign of former Mayor Sheila Dixon said she was considering whether to contest the vote before the deadline Tuesday to request a recount, Yvonne Wenger reports for the Sun.