State Roundup, November 17, 2017

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CARDIN, VAN HOLLEN PUSH RESIDENCY BILL: Three Democratic senators — including Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen — introduced legislation Thursday to allow certain immigrants with temporary legal status in the United States to apply for residency, reports John Fritze for the Sun. Maryland has the sixth-highest number of residents benefiting from Temporary Protected Status in the country — about 23,000 — according to the Center for Migration Studies. The vast majority of those individuals in the state are from El Salvador.

INDUSTRIAL RUNOFF FOULS BAY: Unbeknownst to most Marylanders, many industrial facilities are polluting state waters and the Chesapeake Bay with their stormwater runoff, while also threatening the health of neighboring communities, says a new report by a pair of environmental groups. The groups blame weak state controls and lax enforcement, reports the Bay Journal’s Timothy Wheeler. The article appears in MarylandReporter.

FARM POLLUTANTS: Jenna Portnoy of the Post reports that Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Thursday was to introduce legislation to increase funding for a program that keeps pollutants from running off farms and into the Chesapeake Bay and other sensitive watersheds across the country. The bill would increase to $300 million a pot of money to help farmers build things such as manure storage and stream buffers that prevent harmful nutrients from flowing into sensitive watersheds.

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STATE OFFERS $100,000 REWARD: The state of Maryland is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for killing a Baltimore homicide detective, Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Twitter Thursday evening. This money is in addition to the $69,000 reward being offered by local authorities and the Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland, reports the Sun’s Talia Richman.

RAHN TARGETS MO CO HIGHWAYS: Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn on Thursday revealed more information about Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposal to add capacity to congested highways in Montgomery County. Rahn said the state is pushing to add four toll lanes to the entire Capital Beltway and Interstate 270 through a public-private partnership that ideally won’t cost the state any money, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.

LIGHT RAIL-HEALTH STUDY: As construction on Maryland’s Purple Line gets underway, a University of Maryland researcher is starting to examine whether the light-rail line will make people healthier, or at least more physically active. Previous studies have found that people who live near public transportation are generally more physically active because they often walk or bike to and from the transit stop, as well as to shop and make other trips. But most of those studies looked at majority-white populations, Jennifer Robert said. She’ll focus on a mostly African American and Latino community with a broad range of ethnicity, incomes and education levels.

METRO SAYS IT’s IMPROVING: Metro’s new message to the region’s disgruntled riders is akin to an exhortation from a repentant ex: We’re getting better, and we want you back, writes Martine Powers in the Post. At Thursday’s Metro board meeting, General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, citing the latest round of performance statistics, said the transit agency has “moved the needle” on rail reliability and on-time performance.

HIXSON’s LONG TENURE: In another tribute to retiring state Del. Sheila Hixson, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes thatHixson was a divorced mother of four when Democratic Party leaders asked her in 1976 to fill a seat being vacated by a Montgomery County delegate-turned-judge. A longtime party loyalist, she didn’t hesitate to step in. “They said ‘Just take it for two years, Sheila, and then we’ll get someone else to run,’ ” Hixson recalled. “I’ve been here ever since.”

DESCHENAUX’s LAST BRIEFING: The Spending Affordability Committee received its final briefing from the Department of Legislative Services Executive Director Warren Deschenaux on Tuesday, Nov. 14. He retires from state service on Nov. 30, according to Conduit Street.

McCRAY CHALLENGES McFADDEN: Del. Cory McCray (D-45) recently launched his bid to unseat Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D-45), writes Sean Yoes of the Afro. McCray’s supporters say he has exhibited grit in abundance during his brief political career and his life before he entered politics.

FREDERICK SCHOOL CALENDAR: The Frederick County Board of Education is scheduled to give final approval next month for the 2018-2019 calendar, which currently includes school on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, capping off the High Holy Days that begin 10 days earlier with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. If finalized, it would be the first time in nearly two decades that Frederick County students have gone to school on Yom Kippur, Allen Etzler and Nancy Lavin reports for the Frederick News Post.

SINCLAIR BENEFIT: Federal regulators took steps Thursday to ease broadcast ownership restrictions, a move seen as favorable for the Hunt Valley-based Sinclair Broadcast Group’s proposed $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media Co., reports Lorraine Mirabella in the Sun. The Federal Communications Commission said the rule changes would promote ownership diversity and allow broadcasters and local newspapers to better compete in the digital age. Critics said the changes would encourage consolidation and hurt media diversity.

JEALOUS OFFERS OPIOID PLAN: Slamming Gov. Larry Hogan’s record on dealing with the crisis of heroin and opioid addiction, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous released his strategy Friday for bringing down Maryland’s soaring levels of overdose deaths. Jealous’ 12-page proposal is his first comprehensive policy position since he launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination to run against the Republican Hogan, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.

PITTMAN CHALLENGES SCHUH: Davidsonville resident Steuart Pittman has announced his candidacy for county executive. Pittman, the owner of Dodon Farm Training Center, will run as a Democrat. He confirmed his plans to Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital Thursday. He plans to focus on development as a core issue.

Del. Michael Malone, right with mic, addresses supporters at Homestead Gardens fundraiser Wednesday night. MarylandReporter.com photo

MALONE FUNDRAISER: Homestead Gardens, a huge garden supply and nursery retailer in rural Davidsonville, was an unusual setting Wednesday night for a fundraiser for Del. Michael Malone, an Anne Arundel County Republican who said he had his first job there. The equally huge train garden was turned off so you could hear the speeches from Sen. Ed Reilly and House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. Also unusual was the presence of Anne Arundel County Councilmember Jerry Walker, who is challenging the incumbent delegates for one of the three seats in District 32. The House Republican Caucus recently sent out a mailer depicting Republican Walker as a clown for voting with Democrats. Walker is holding a press conference Friday morning, attacking the mailer (See item below.) MarylandReporter.com

WALKER BLASTS SCHUH, KIPKE: Walker said in an email that this “false, politically motivated information is being shared through county resources, in direct violation of the law. The mailers are being paid for by the House Republican Caucus, an account whose purpose is to elect Republicans in the General Election and build upon the Republican gains in the House, not attack Republicans in a primary election.” Walker said he “will address these falsehoods, providing the public with the truth, while urging county executive [Schuh] to follow the law by not using the office of the county executive for political gain.  He will also call on Minority Leader Nic Kipke to focus on getting Republicans elected instead of attacking fellow Republicans and intentionally misleading the public about local legislation that he supported at the state level.”  Walker has frequently opposed Schuh’s proposals. MarylandReporter.com

BA CO EXEC FORUM: Four of the five announced candidates for Baltimore County executive pitched themselves as advocates for education during a forum Tuesday at the Community College of Baltimore County’s Catonsville campus.They also, to varying degrees, promised to change the culture of Baltimore County government and add transparency they say is lacking, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun.

BLOGGER BLASTS ETHICS PANEL MEMBER: Maryland political blogger Ryan Miner said a member of the Washington County Ethics Commission exhibited “raw hostility” toward him while the panel was hearing his testimony regarding two ethics complaints he filed, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Miner included his concerns about ethics commission member Allen Swope in a Thursday email sent to the county attorney’s office and addressed to ethics panel members.