State Roundup, October 16, 2017

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INCENTIVES FOR AMAZON HQ2: Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that top state officials are preparing to offer Amazon.com a massive, historic tax incentive package if the retailer moves its second headquarters to Maryland. “It will be the biggest incentive offer in the state’s history by a mile,” said Douglass Mayer, spokesman for Gov. Larry Hogan, who declined to reveal details of the incentive package, citing competition from other states.

THE CASE FOR BALTIMORE: In an op-ed for the Post, Christopher Summers of the Maryland Public Policy Institute and Loyal University Professor Stephen J.K. Walters opine that in the amazing race for Amazon’s second headquarters, which promises 50,000 jobs to the winning city, handicappers consider Baltimore a longshot. But this dark horse not only satisfies most of Amazon’s explicit criteria for its “HQ2,” it also has advantages many favorites lack. Part of Charm City’s edge is geographic, part is economic, and the rest is opportune timing. Its Port Covington site, 260 waterfront acres situated a few furlongs from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, checks off every box on Amazon’s “core preferences” list.

TAX BREAK FOR FIRST RESPONDERS: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that he will introduce legislation to expand a tax break the state extends to retired first responders to include former correctional officers, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. Hogan said during a two-day Western Maryland trip that the legislation “is good economic policy, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do.”

FROSH THREATENS TO SUE OVER ACA: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh threatened to sue the Trump administration after the president said he will not continue to pay federal subsidies that reduce the cost of consumer health plans under the Affordable Care Act, Morgan Eichensehr reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. Trump’s move puts major financial pressure on an already volatile insurance marketplace, and Maryland regulators and insurance officials are scrambling to figure out next steps.

HOGAN TOUTS FROSTBURG INVESTMENTS: Gov. Larry Hogan visited downtown Cumberland on Friday where he announced $750,000 of new investments for the region that will be centered in Frostburg, writes Greg Larry for the Cumberland Times News. The $750,000 based in Frostburg include $350,000 for the town of Frostburg to acquire sites for economic revitalization, $100,000 for the design of a new City Hall/public safety building, and $300,000 to establish a new office of economic development at Frostburg State University.

PRIVATE SCHOOL LOSES STATE VOUCHER FUNDS: A state education panel has voted unanimously to rescind taxpayer-funded vouchers from a Harford County Lutheran school that said it reserved the right to deny admission to gay and transgender students, reports Liz Bowie for the Sun. The board of the state’s private school voucher program made the decision Wednesday after being alerted to the discriminatory language in the handbook of Trinity Lutheran Christian School in Joppa. The decision means the school will not receive any voucher money this year.

RUTHERFORD ON TO EUROPE: Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford began a trade and diplomatic mission to Europe Friday with stops planned in France, Belgium and Estonia, Michael Dresser of the Sun writes. Among the topics Rutherford will discuss with European officials are cybersecurity and opioid abuse. The latter has been a particular focus of Rutherford’s service as lieutenant governor, having led a task force on Maryland’s response to the problems of heroin and opioid abuse.

TOWN WON’T AID PURPLE LINE PLAINTIFF: The Town of Chevy Chase will not provide $50,000 to Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail, the trail group that’s a plaintiff in two lawsuits against the Purple Line light-rail project, reports Andrew Metcalf in Bethesda Beat. The Town Council voted 4-1 against providing a grant to the group, which was requesting the money to defray legal costs in the ongoing lawsuits.

DEM GOV HOPEFULS TAKE AIM AT TRUMP, HOGAN: From the start, it was clear that a Democratic gubernatorial forum Saturday was going to provide a ready platform for any candidate willing to take aim at incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and President Donald Trump, Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.

‘FREE’ TUITION ISN’T FREE: Talk on the far left about “free” college tuition got a boost last week from an acolyte of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the foremost proponent of this marvelous-sounding idea. Benjamin Jealous, who is running for governor, has said that his gubernatorial pitch includes free education for Marylanders at the state’s public colleges and universities. In this Trumpian world of headlines without facts to back them up, Jealous later admitted he had no cost estimate, didn’t know who might be eligible for the program and had no details on how such a proposal would work, columnist Barry Rasovar opines in MarylandReporter.

ROSS WOULD OPEN VOTING: If elected governor, Democrat Alec Ross wants Maryland to vote by mail, by smartphone and from jail cells, writes Erin Cox for the Sun. Ross unveiled a broad campaign promise to expand access to voting, and part of that promise is to allow incarcerated people to cast ballots while still behind bars.

FUNDRAISING CONUNDRUM: Democratic legislators waiting by the phone for an invitation to join a gubernatorial ticket may not want to get their hopes up too high. A little-known provision in state election law puts restraints on the fundraising activities of joint campaign committees featuring a state legislator. For years, state officials have been banned from raising campaign cash during the 90-day General Assembly session. That ban extends to the governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general and all 188 members of the legislature, Josh Kurtz writes in Maryland Matters.

MADALENO READS MEAN TWEETS: Among items in Andrew Metcalf’s political roundup for Bethesda Beat: state Sen. Rich Madaleno, who is seeking to become the first elected openly gay governor in the United States, released a video this week of him and his husband, Mark Hodge, reading “mean tweets” that he’s received since announcing his run for governor.

DEMS OPTIMISTIC: Beleaguered Maryland Democrats may yet have some cause for optimism. On a day when hundreds of people came together to pay tribute to venerated former U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) and her 45-year political career, hopeful glimpses of the Democrats’ future were also on display Thursday. The event at the Senator Theater was a fundraiser for Emerge Maryland, a group that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for office, writes Josh Kurtz in an analysis for Maryland Matters.

REPLACING STATUES: About 15 community members gathered in an old church space in Charles Village on Sunday to discuss Baltimore’s removal of three Confederate statues and what should take their place, Kevin Rector of the Sun reports. “People definitely want to talk,” said Sheila Gaskins, an organizer with the group Artpartheid. “And they want to be heard.”

GANSLER SPEAKS: A Miner Detail Radio host Ryan Miner interviewed former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who talks about his stint as a state’s attorney in Montgomery County, his relationship with Martin O’Malley and some of his accomplishments in the eight years he spent as attorney general. In the second half of the interview, Gansler offered his most honest assessment of his unsuccessful 2014 campaign for governor. He then speaks about his decision to sit out this gubernatorial race and about some of the current candidates in the field.