State Roundup, September 6, 2016

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Labor day picnic 2016

The Howard County Democratic Party’s Labor Day picnic (above) had a big turnout this election year, including three congressmen, state and local legislators. “It is the first election in my lifetime where the choice is how we’re going to treat people,” Rep. John Sarbanes told the crowd. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, running for U.S. Senate, said: “We’ve got to not only win this election; we’ve got to win it big.” photo.

POLL: TRUMP IN DUMP, HOGAN SOARS: Donald Trump is deeply unpopular in Maryland and could be acting as a weight on the GOP candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, according to a statewide poll to be released Tuesday, John Fritze reports in the Sun. But Gov. Larry Hogan continues to soar with a 71% approval rating. Trump is down 29 points in the state, the poll finds, and is losing every demographic: men, women, whites, blacks, young voters and old. The numbers in the contest to replace Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski are nearly identical. Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County is leading Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga of Baltimore County 2-1.

REGULATING POLICE SPY PROGRAMS: State lawmakers and civil liberties advocates are considering legislation that would regulate police surveillance programs — and require public disclosure — after the Baltimore Police Department ran a secret aerial surveillance program over the city for months. Kevin Rector and Ian Duncan of the Sun report that the head of the city’s delegation to the Maryland House of Delegates said the public should know where such technology is used, how the information is kept and the costs involved.

SCHOOL START BROUHAHA CONTINUES: Extending summer vacation may boost the first-term Republican governor’s already high popularity, analysts say, given that polls show large majorities of Marylanders favor the move. But Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), vice chairman of the Senate education committee, said parents may react more negatively about the mandate if districts start slashing holidays, spring breaks and teacher trainings to meet the requirements, Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks report for the Post.

RESISTING MORE CARBON CUTS: Maryland officials are resisting a push to deepen carbon-emission cuts as part of a regional agreement to reduce power-plant pollution, reports Fenit Nirappil for the Post. The nine East Coast states that make up the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are negotiating new terms for the pact, set to expire in 2020. Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said the proposal could result in higher power bills for Marylanders and harm the state’s economy.

WEAR & CARRY PERMITS EXPANDED: Andy Lapkoff cites one reason for seeking a Maryland wear-and-carry handgun license.  “Personal protection in our industry is paramount,” said Lapkoff, who works as a real-estate agent with offices in Hagerstown and Frederick.  Tim Gargana, a firearms instructor who works in Hagerstown, said a state procedural change has allowed more people like Kapkoff to qualify for a wear-and-carry permit, Mike Lewis reports in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

A BRIDGE TOO FAR: Political prognosticator Barry Rascovar, writing in, says that Gov. Larry Hogan seems to be playing with state transportation projects — including a third span of the Bay Bridge, some financing of which he has already imperiled thanks to his toll cuts.

COMMERCIAL LEASE PRIVACY: Counties need not publicly disclose under the Maryland Public Information Act the contents of commercial leases that private parties voluntarily submit to them, Maryland’s second-highest court has ruled. Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that in its 3-0 decision, the Court of Special Appeals said the MPIA’s commercial-secrets exemption applies to the entire lease, because even judge-ordered redactions may inadvertently disclose proprietary information to the landlord’s competitors or would-be tenants.

Dan Riley

Daniel Riley

FORMER DEL. RILEY DIES: Former state Del. B. Daniel Riley, who served two terms in the Maryland House of Delegates, has died. He was 70, according to an AP/Sun report. Riley was a Democrat who represented Harford County’s District 34 from 1999 to 2003, then served another term from 2007 to 2011 for portions of Cecil and Harford counties. He lived in Edgewood.

***Assessment Administrators: Seeking motivated individuals to proctor assessment sessions with 4th- and 8th-grade students in schools for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Must be available to work January 30 –March 10, 2017. Paid training, paid time and mileage reimbursement for local driving, and weekly paychecks. This is a part-time, temporary position. To apply, visit our website at and select “Search Field Positions.” Search for your state, find the NAEP Assessment Administrator position, and select the “apply to job” button. For more information email or call 1-888-237-8036. WESTAT EOE***

TANEY BUST IN LIMBO: Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the The New York Times writes about the city of Frederick dealing with the controversy surrounding the bust of Roger Taney, the Supreme Court justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision. Today, the bust’s future is caught up in a maze of bureaucracy, amid questions of whether moving it would violate a state easement or city preservation rules. But even if the bust can go, Frederick faces a bigger problem: In the heat of the debate last year, vandals dumped a bucket of red enamel paint on Taney’s bronze head. Now, nobody wants it.

TERM LIMIT OPPONENT SEEKS TO BLOCK BALLOT: The leader of a group opposed to term limits in Montgomery County asked a circuit court Friday to block placement of the issue on the November ballot, charging that many of the signatures submitted in support of the measure are invalid. Rockville city council member Tom Moore said a spot check of Robin Ficker’s petitions showed dozens of problems, including instances where names were just printed, not signed, reports Bill Turque in the Post.

PURPLE LINE VICTORY: An activist group supporting the Purple Line won a legal victory Thursday when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled the Town of Chevy Chase wrongly sought high fees for copies of public documents concerning the town’s fight against the light-rail line, Doug Tallman reports for Bethesda Beat.

RX POT WORK: Data centers are Stulz USA’s bread and butter, but a little herb couldn’t hurt. Brandi Bottalico of the Frederick News Post reports that Stulz USA, which is headquartered in Frederick, has started manufacturing air conditioners, or atmosphere control units, for facilities that grow medical marijuana. But company executives said that demand won’t exceed the demand for data center air conditioning units, which makes up a majority of its business.

STUDENTS GET BOOST BUCKS: At least seven Frederick County students were recipients of state money earmarked to help low-income families pay tuition at nonpublic schools, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for the Frederick News Post. The Maryland General Assembly established the Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today, or BOOST, program in March. Approximately $5 million was handed out to families across the state.

TOWSON MALL ACTION QUESTIONED: Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that the state agency that investigates civil rights complaints is raising concerns that Towson Town Center’s new policy banning unaccompanied minors on Friday and Saturday nights may represent age discrimination. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights will meet with mall management and is looking at other malls’ policies on teenage shoppers as well, a top official said Friday.