State Roundup, October 20, 2017

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HOGAN BACKS ACA SUBSIDY PAYMENTS: Gov. Larry Hogan wants Congress to revive the Affordable Care Act subsidy payments cut by President Trump even though he did not sign a letter sent by 10 Republican and Democratic governors on Wednesday encouraging lawmakers to do it, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post. Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said the governor supports an effort by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to renew the payments, which are made to insurers to help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for lower-income people.

HOGAN TOUTS HYPERLOOP: Gov. Larry Hogan – taking a cue from the big splash, low information PR strategy of Elon Musk – tweeted Thursday that Musk’s Boring Co. is going to build a Hyperloop tunnel from Baltimore to Washington. “So, get ready,” Hogan said in a rough video after adjusting his shades. Michael Laris of the Post reports that the Maryland Department of Transportation has given conditional approval to Musk’s firm to dig miles of tunnel under state roads to be used for the privately funded project,

VAN HOLLEN FAILS TO PRESERVE TAX DEDUCTION: Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, failed Thursday to preserve a state and local tax deduction in the Republican plan to overhaul the tax code — the first effort to maintain a deduction that is heavily used by Marylanders, John Fritze and Jim Puzzanghera report for the Sun. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul.

TRUTH IN CRAB LABELING: Nothing says Maryland quite like a steamed crab smothered in Old Bay and slapped on a long picnic table, writes the Bay Journal’s Rona Kobell in an article in MarylandReporter. But sometimes, a diner may actually be enjoying crabs that were trucked up Interstate 95 in a hot bushel basket — fresh from the Carolina coast or Gulf of Mexico. Lee Carrion is trying to change that. For more than a decade, she has railed against businesses that purport to sell local crabs but don’t.

HIGHWAY DEATHS TARGETED: State and local planners have set goals to reduce the number of highway fatalities and injuries, writes Mike Lewis for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. They hope to see the number of Maryland fatalities fall from 442 in 2016 to 391 in 2020. In West Virginia, the goal is to see fatalities drop from 302 in 2016 to 267 in 2020. The targets are part of complying with new federal regulations. The numbers will be tied to road-improvement projects and funding, according to Meredith Hill, transportation planner with the Maryland State Highway Administration.

HOGAN BLASTS MO CO ED BOARD: Approximately 150 people gathered Sunday evening to thank Gov. Larry Hogan for his support of the Jewish community in Montgomery County, Suzanne Pollak of the Montgomery Sentinel reports. But when a few people told Hogan they were disappointed he had moved up the starting date for public schools until after Labor Day, thereby causing county school officials to rework their calendar and possibly eliminate days off for Jewish holidays, Hogan’s demeanor changed. “I’m outraged by the Montgomery County schools making the suggestion,” he said, then declared, “None of them [school board members] should be re-elected.”

FRANCHOT CRITICIZES BA CO SCHOOLS: Baltimore County came under withering criticism Wednesday from the state comptroller over the conditions of two of its high schools. Comptroller Peter Franchot called the conditions at Dulaney and Lansdowne high schools deplorable and unacceptable, John Lee for WYPR-FM.

BEREANO GOES TO WASHINGTON? It isn’t surprising that Ocean City officials would want to hire uber-lobbyist Bruce Bereano to help them push two controversial wind energy projects farther offshore in an effort to protect their lucrative tourist economy, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters. What is surprising is that Bereano – arguably the most successful lobbyist in Annapolis history – says he’ll be focusing most of his energies on Congress and the federal regulatory process, not on his familiar State House stomping grounds. But some stakeholders in the long battle to bring offshore wind energy to Maryland are skeptical. Bereano, by his own admission, has limited experience lobbying Congress.

BROCHIN LAUNCHES BA CO EXEC RUN: Democratic state Sen. Jim Brochin yesterday officially launched his campaign for Baltimore County executive. Brochin, a four-term state senator, has been plotting this run for a long time. “I think the Democrats in Baltimore County are as independent as I am,” Brochin said in the story plus audio by John Lee at WYPR. “I think they look past party and they look past everything and they care about ideas and ideology.” It wasn’t just Democrats at Brochin’s campaign announcement. Republican Del. Chris West, running for the Senate seat that Brochin is giving up, was there as well.

HASHIMI LAUNCHES CONGRESSIONAL BID: Dr. Nadia Hashimi launched her congressional campaign for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District on Thursday, Oct. 12, in Gaithersburg before friends, family and interested politicos. Hashimi, a Potomac Democrat, is running to replace outgoing Rep. John Delaney (D), who is running for president of the United States, Ryan Miner writes in his Miner Detail blog.

ETHICS COMPLAINT IN WA CO: The Washington County Ethics Commission was contacted Thursday and asked to set up a meeting to review a complaint alleging County Commissioner Jeff Cline leaked confidential information, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

CHARLES CO.’s LONG SHOT HQ2 BID: One last bid from Maryland was sent to Amazon.com Inc. Thursday for the retailing behemoth’s HQ2. And this one admittedly has a David and Goliath-like feel to it, writes Melody Simmons for the Baltimore Business Journal. “We’re submitting our proposal with our eyes wide open,” said Darrell Brown, director of the Charles County Economic Development Department. “We know we are a long shot, but it’s important for the county to participate in the process.”

NEIGHBORHOOD BIDS FOR HQ2: As Baltimore and state officials were promising billions of dollars to bolster Port Covington’s bid for a new Amazon headquarters, the Old Goucher neighborhood had other ideas. On Thursday, the neighborhood association said it submitted a “completely independent” and all volunteer bid for the corporate behemoth to locate in the center of Baltimore, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun.

This portrait of Frederick Douglass was hung in the governor’s mansion in 2014.

DOUGLASS BILL HEADS TO TRUMP’s DESK: A bill honoring Talbot County native Frederick Douglass for the anniversary of his 200th birthday now heads to the president’s desk for his signature, after being passed Wednesday night, Oct. 18, in the Senate, Josh Bollinger reports for the Easton Star Democrat. Under the bill, the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission would “plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities that are fitting and proper to honor Frederick Douglass on the occasion of the bicentennial anniversary of Douglass’ birth.” The commission then will make recommendations to Congress.