State Roundup, October 28, 2016

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EARLY VOTING BEGINS: There is no excuse for not voting. Same day voter registration is allowed with proof of residence. Voters can vote until Thursday Nov. 3. Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including Saturday and Sunday, the lightest voting days.

  • Tens of thousands of Marylanders who turned out for the first day of early voting —125,914 statewide, including about 9,500 in Baltimore — faced long waits at the busiest polling places, Yvonne Wenger writes in the Sun. But otherwise, they had smooth experiences, state and local officials said.
  • Early voting is off to a strong start in Frederick County, Danielle Gaines reports in the Frederick News-Post. By 8 p.m. Thursday, 4,741 ballots had been cast at early voting centers in the county, according to Stuart Harvey, the county’s election director. Early voting numbers are higher than in 2012, when 2,918 people cast ballots on the first day of early voting.

CORRECTION: Thursday’s MarylandReporter.com incorrectly reported that Green Party senate nominee Margaret Flowers was “arrested” when she tried to participate in a TV debate at the University of Baltimore. Campus police took Flowers off the stage and escorted her out of the building, but did not “arrest” her, Flowers says.  

DEMOCRATS ARGUE ABOUT HOGAN: Ovetta Wiggins of The Washington Post reports on a closed meeting of House of Delegates Democrats in which the delegates argued about how to combat the popular Republican governor, Larry Hogan.

 DELANEY, HOEBER DEBATE: In one of the rare instances in which the two major party candidates have appeared together during this fall’s contentious District 6 congressional race, Democratic Rep. John Delaney and his Republican challenger, Amie Hoeber, clashed Wednesday over issues ranging from the scope of the federal government to military spending—while tangling repeatedly over how best to improve Maryland’s traffic-clogged highways, Lou Peck writes in Bethesda Beat. In addition, sparks flew at the end of the hour-long forum in Hagerstown, sponsored by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, when Hoeber took aim at what has been a consistent theme of Delaney’s bid for re-election to a third term: that he has a record of bipartisanship and of voting against his own party in the House.

KAMENETZ ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz called on a state panel reviewing how to improve school construction to recommend giving block grants to larger counties to address building needs, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record. Kamenetz, who is in his second term as the leader of the third-largest jurisdiction in Maryland, said cookie-cutter rules that apply to all counties are not equitable. Instead of going through a typical process where counties must apply for money for each project, Kamenetz said, larger counties should be given money and allowed to move their projects forward.

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT: Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh sees using his county’s jails to hold undocumented immigrants for the federal government as a win for everyone, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. Every jurisdiction in the United States should be helping to defend the nation’s borders, the Republican says. And the money that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would pay Arundel to fill its unused jail cells with short-term detainees could provide steady revenue for the county.

REPLACING MIKULSKI: As U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski prepares to retire, leaving a legacy spanning four decades in Congress, Maryland’s two major-party candidates for the seat are taking different approaches to the question of how to succeed her, Phil Davis reports in the Capital. During meetings with reporters and editors from The Capital, the Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, and Republican candidate Del. Kathy Szeliga spoke glowingly of Mikulski’s drive to improve conditions nationwide and in Maryland.

PEDESTRIAN SAFETY: Annapolis and Maryland Department of Transportation officials are looking to reduce pedestrian fatalities with the Look Up, Look Out campaign to spread information about safely crossing roads and driving through areas with pedestrian traffic, Chase Cook reports in the Capital. As part of the campaign, fliers with safety tips will be passed around Annapolis, along with other advertising on city networks and social media. The partnership is part of a $500,000 campaign across the state.

TOP SUPERINTENDENT: Terry Alban, an educator for more than 30 years, was named the 2017 Maryland Superintendent of the Year on Thursday night by the state’s professional association for school superintendents, Jeremy Bauer-Wolf reports in the Frederick News-Post.

ELECTION AUDIT: An op-ed in the Sun argues that Maryland’s election audit software won’t ensure accuracy unless paper ballots are used.

PAID SICK LEAVE: Maryland business groups are uniformly opposed to mandatory paid sick leave legislation that already passed the House of Delegates in April before dying in a Senate committee. But a key Senate leader told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Wednesday that the bill was bound to pass this term, and business leaders should try to make it as palatable as possible.