State Roundup, November 10, 2017

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HOGAN CALLS FOR END OF MILITARY PENSION TAX: Gov. Larry Hogan marked Veterans Appreciation Month on Thursday by renewing his call for elimination of state income taxes on Maryland’s military retirees, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. At a State House news conference, Hogan contended that such a move is needed to keep the state’s military retirees from moving to states that already have that exemption, such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

GRUMBLES TO ATTEND UN CLIMATE CONFERENCE: While the U.S. under President Trump has become isolated in the international effort to combat climate change, the state of Maryland is all in, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. The Maryland Department of Environment announced Thursday that Secretary Ben Grumbles is headed to the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference now under way in Bonn, Germany.

RX POT DIRECTOR RESIGNS: Maryland has lost its second top medical marijuana regulator in two years — just weeks before legal sales are expected to commence, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports.

VA. ELECTION & METRO: Faiz Siddiqui and Robert McCartney of the Post reports that Virginia Gov.-elect Ralph Northam’s victory, along with significant Democratic gains in the state legislature, could help overcome the regional political rifts that have stymied efforts to find a long-term source of dedicated funding for Metro, agency and elected officials said this week.

PROBE SOUGHT FOR BA CO SCHOOL PURCHASES: State Sen. Jim Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat, has called for an investigation and audit of the Baltimore County school system’s purchasing of digital devices and software after reports that administrators were working as paid consultants for a company that represents education technology firms, Doug Donovan and Liz Bowie report for the Sun.

  • The editorial board for the Sun targets the seeming lack of common sense and ethics in the administration of Baltimore County Public Schools, opining that in case anyone who works for the Baltimore County school system isn’t clear on this yet, when you do a service for someone and they pay you for it, that’s called “earned income.” And when your ethics forms say you should report all outside earned income under the penalty of perjury, that is the kind of thing they’re talking about.

SCHMIDT-PERKINS STEPS DOWN: Dru Schmidt-Perkins figured she’d put two years into launching a new nonprofit in Maryland dedicated to fighting suburban sprawl. Nineteen years later, she’s finally left the helm of 1000 Friends of Maryland. Sprawl hasn’t been defeated, by any means, but it’s been slowed and even halted for the time being in some places, writes the Bay Journal’s Timothy Wheeler in MarylandReporter.

ROSENSTEIN ON RULE OF LAW: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that when Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein took to the stage at a gathering of Maryland business leaders Thursday morning, there were at least a few 800-pound gorillas with him in the room. He managed to avoid them. Rosenstein, the former long-serving U.S. attorney for Maryland, is at the fulcrum of many of the hottest controversies in Washington, D.C., these days.

***FARMERS USE SCIENCE-BASED APPROACH TO CROPS: Maryland farmers are legally required to file a Nutrient Management Program plan with the state. The plans are designed to determine how much fertilizer — whether it comes from a store-bought bag, manure or other sources — may be safely applied to fields to achieve reasonable yields and prevent excess nutrients from impacting waterways. Eric Spates’ Stoney Castle Farm is not far from the Potomac River in Montgomery County. His 1,100 acres are part of about 1.3 million that are regulated under the Nutrient Management Program. Here is his story. SPONSORED CONTENT***

McKEE WON’T RUN FOR CONGRESS: Adam McKee, who was considering a run for Congress in the 6th District, announced on Red Maryland Radio that he would not be running and instead endorsed Matt Mossburg. And he and blogger Brian Griffiths discuss the Annapolis and Frederick elections and the disturbing Roy Moore allegations and what they mean for one of his supporters, Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka.

PEROUTKA URGED TO END SUPPORT OF ROY MOORE: The Maryland Democratic Party is calling on Anne Arundel County Councilman Michael Peroutka to withdraw his support of Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for one of Alabama’s U.S. Senate seats, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. Moore has been accused of a sexual encounter with a minor, according to The Washington Post.

TOWN COUNCILMEMBER TO SEEK STATE HOUSE SEAT: Town of Chevy Chase Council member Joel Rubin said Wednesday that he will enter the race for the Democratic nomination for state delegate in District 18 – the fifth non-incumbent contender to take aim at two open seats in next June’s primary election, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.

BALL TO RUN FOR HOWARD EXEC: Democrat Calvin Ball, an 11-year-veteran of the Howard County Council, on Thursday night announced his long-expected bid for county executive, hoping to defeat incumbent Republican Allan Kittleman who is seeking a second term, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.

  • The timing of the announcement was purely coincidental. But Ball officially kicked off his campaign for county executive just two days after Democrats made big gains in Virginia suburban counties that bear some demographic and economic resemblance to Howard. Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that Ball believes the Democratic sweep Tuesday in Virginia – and in Frederick and Annapolis – along with voter antipathy for President Trump bode well for his attempt to oust Kittleman next year. Nobody – not even Ball – would suggest that Kittleman, a mild-mannered moderate whose father started Howard County’s NAACP chapter – is anything like Trump.
  • Ball’s announcement comes after months of speculation over plans for his political future, as his third and final term on the County Council ends in 2018 due to term limits, Kate Magill reports in the Howard County Times. Several local officials and candidates were in attendance at the announcement, including state Sen. Guy Guzzone and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

GOP SECRETARY TO SEEK MO CO GOP CHAIR: Maryland Republican Party Secretary Mark Uncapher is running against Dick Jurgena for the chairmanship of the Montgomery County GOP, blogs Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland. Uncapher is a former chair of the county party.

ACLU TAKES UP MILITARY TRANSGENDER BAN: Attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal judge in Baltimore on Thursday to freeze President Donald J. Trump’s impending ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports. The attorneys sought an injunction in U.S. District Court, arguing that the judge should stop the rollout until the ACLU can present its argument that the ban is unconstitutional in a forthcoming civil trial.