State Roundup, September 27, 2017

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HOWARD TO PITCH FOR AMAZON HQ2: Howard County is joining the growing list of Maryland jurisdictions that plan to make a play for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, writes Amanda Yeager for the Baltimore Business Journal. Economic development officials in the affluent suburb southwest of Baltimore are working on assembling a pitch to lure the internet retailer to Columbia Gateway business park, County Executive Allan Kittleman said Tuesday. “We think we are well positioned,” Kittleman said. “We can see this as a win for Maryland and the region.”

PAID SICK LEAVE: Maryland legislators passed a bill in April requiring that workers get at least five paid sick days a year — which, along with vacation time, is what employees often use when they don’t have family leave — but it was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan, who proposed legislation that would have set a higher threshold of 50-plus workers, with tax credits to entice smaller businesses to offer the leave. Advocates vow to seek an override of Hogan’s veto when the legislature convenes for its annual 90-day session in January, Jean Marbella reports in the Sun.

VIEWS ON HOGAN TRANSIT PLAN: The Washington region — current population roughly 5.4 million – is projected to grow by 1.5 million people over the coming quarter- century. Faced with that influx, public officials don’t have the luxury to engage in theological debate about the comparative benefits of transit vs. roads vs. new technology. If the region is to remain livable, prosperous and mobile, it will need more of all of the above. That’s why Gov. Larry Hogan’s recent big-ticket suburban transportation proposals — hundreds of millions of dollars to rescue Metro, and $9 billion to add dozens of miles of toll lanes to the Beltway, Interstate 270 and the Baltimore- Washington Parkway — are a good starting point, opines the editorial board of the Post.

SAFE DRUG USE SPACE: A safe space in Baltimore for drug use for those addicted to opioids would generate an estimated $6 million in net health care cost savings and bring 121 people into treatment annually, according to a panel of law enforcement officials and a Johns Hopkins professor on Tuesday. Georgia Slater of Capital News Service reports that the panel appeared before a joint legislative committee on behavioral health and opioid use disorders in Annapolis and presented research that indicated Maryland would benefit from opening a safe-consumption space in Baltimore.

CITY SCHOOLS STILL WITHOUT AC: The temperature in a Patterson High School classroom hit 102 degrees Tuesday, the second day in a row at the Southeast Baltimore school that the mercury topped triple digits. Students and teachers brought extra water bottles and small fans to try to beat the heat. But at one of the nearly 50 city schools that lack air conditioning, there was little relief, Talia Richman of the Sun reports. The state Board of Public Works voted last year to withhold millions of dollars in school construction money from the city and county unless officials agreed to install air conditioning in all classrooms by the start of the school year.

INPUT ON STATE ED SYSTEM: The editorial board of the Carroll County Times urges the public to attend the Frederick hearing of the 25 member group of state lawmakers and education leaders — including Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie — who are in the midst of collecting public testimony about the future of education in our state.

CUMMINGS IS BACK: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings faced 30 members of his staff in a cavernous committee room the other day and told them how, after a nearly three-month absence from Congress due to heart surgery, he would never be the same. Jenna Portnoy of the Post writes about what Cummings sees as his’ revived passion for his fight for democracy, even though that seems never to have flagged.

DEMS’ BRIGHT SPOT: The editorial board for the Sun opines that if there is a bright spot for Democrats in the most recent Goucher Poll it is that President Trump is highly unpopular. But attempts to tar Republican Gov. Larry Hogan with the same brush as Trump doesn’t seem to be working. Democrats have a very thin line to walk to seeing a Democrat in the governor’s mansion in the next election.

BAKER, SHEA ON GOUCHER POLL: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Jim Shea, the former chair of Venable LLP and Democratic party activist and donor, find themselves in different starting positions, according to the Goucher Poll released Tuesday morning. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that Baker finds himself atop the list of declared candidates, albeit grouped with three others all within the margin of error. Shea finds himself in a group of candidates who lack statewide name recognition.

GOP TARGETS BALTIMORE COUNTY: It’s becoming more clear who will be running for Baltimore County executive. There are three declared candidates with two more expected to follow in the coming weeks. The county GOP hopes the party will gain control of both the county executive’s office and County Council following the 2018 elections. WYPR’s John Lee talks it over with Nathan Sterner.

REPUBLICANS IN MONTGOMERY: Leave out some of the partisan take toward the end, liberal David Lublin in the Seventh State blog has some interesting figures on Montgomery County voting for Republicans.

GRIFFITH FORMS TICKET: Former Del. Melony Griffith (D), who is running to replace state Sen. Ulysses Currie (D) in Prince George’s County’s 25th District, is teaming up with two of the three delegates in the district along with an Air Force veteran and military contractor who ran for a House seat in 2014, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

EX-PROSECUTOR CHALLENGES INCUMBENT: Former Anne Arundel County prosecutor Kathy Rogers plans to challenge State’s Attorney Wes Adams next year, setting up a contest with the man who fired her on his first day in office. Rogers announced Tuesday she will run in the June Republican primary, almost certainly pitting her against Adams, Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports.

BALTIMOREAN CONSIDERED FOR AMBASSADOR: John Fritze of the Sun reports that a Baltimore native and daughter of a once prominent retailer in the city will appear today before a Senate committee considering her nomination to one of the most plum assignments in the U.S. diplomatic corps: ambassador to France. Jamie McCourt — a former co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers whose father founded the Baltimore-based appliance and electronics chain Luskin’s — would head to Paris at a time when U.S.-French relations have been jumbled by the divergent world views embraced by President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

  • I know there is an election coming up next year, but perhaps the General Assembly could pass a bill requiring businesses with 50 or employees give at least five paid sick days a year, with tax credits to entice smaller businesses to offer the leave. At the same time Maryland could study the effect on smaller businesses providing five paid sick days. This might provide a win/win for workers in the state, rather than a win/lose for pols.