State Roundup, December 18, 2017

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RAPE BILL CHANCES: Montgomery County Del. Kathleen Dumais thinks the 2017 sexual assault movement could buoy the chances of her rape survivor bill, which has struggled to pass in the Maryland General Assembly for years, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital. She has been trying to get it passed for about a decade. The bill would allow Maryland courts to terminate the parental rights of an individual “convicted of or found by clear and convincing evidence to have committed an act of nonconsensual sexual conduct against the other parent resulting in the conception of a child.”

OYSTER PROGRAM SITES: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Friday picked the two waterways for the fourth and fifth federally funded oyster sanctuary locations, and the Severn River was not one of them, reports Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital. DNR Secretary Mark Belton named Breton Bay and upper St. Mary’s River, both in St. Mary’s County, for the sanctuary locations. The agency also committed to investing state resources in the Manokin, Nanticoke and Severn rivers to spur natural oyster growth.

SPORTS BETTING: Some Maryland lawmakers as well as officials in the gaming industry are wagering on the General Assembly legalizing sports betting in the state, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. With a Supreme Court decision in a case that could legalize sports betting nationwide expected perhaps weeks after the end of Maryland’s 90-day session, some are seeing a window of opportunity to further expand a Maryland gaming industry that is less than a decade old.

YEAR 1: MGM HARBOR’s SUCCESS: Luz Lazo of the Post reports that MGM National Harbor opened a year ago to an eager Prince George’s County, marking what officials said was a new era of economic growth and prosperity for the county. For the most part, the casino has lived up to expectations, according to county officials and residents. The $1.4 billion resort in suburban Washington quickly became Maryland’s most profitable casino, bringing 6 million visitors, thousands of jobs and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.

HIGHEST PAID LOBBYISTS: Jonathan Munshaw and the Baltimore Business Journal offer up a slideshow of the state’s Top 25 highest paid lobbyists and some of their notable clients.

N. VA. TAX FOR METRO PROPOSED: Northern Virginians would pay higher taxes on real estate sales, hotel stays and wholesale gasoline to provide Metro with long-sought dedicated funding under a proposal to be announced Monday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). As one of two conditions, Virginia has said it will provide the money only if the District and Maryland commit to their share of dedicated funding as well. Robert McCartney reports in the Post.

MARYLAND RED TAPE? NOT SO MUCH: In an op-ed for the Sun, Mercatus fellow James Broughel and Nick Zaiac write that Maryland has a reputation for high taxes and regulation. But while Virginians may joke that the state should be called the “People’s Republic of Maryland,” this reputation is not entirely deserved. Every state has certain regulations that weigh down its economy, and it turns out that Maryland has considerably less red tape than its neighbors.

DAVIS QUESTIONS FRANCHOT BREW CAMPAIGN: In an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital, Del. Derrick Davis, who is chair of the Economic Matters Committee, questions Comptroller Peter Franchot’s campaign to change the brewery laws, writing, “No legislation is perfect. Democrats and Republicans sit together and spend hours working to understand complex business issues, hearing from people on all sides. … In the last legislative session, we worked together to update Maryland’s beer laws to expand growth opportunities for breweries in our state. What I don’t understand is why a policy debate has turned into accusations of corruption and secrecy, and the persistent campaign of disinformation …”

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Democrat Steuart Pittman announces his run for Anne Arundel County executive joined by other Democrats running for county council and legislature. MarylandReporter.com photo

PITTMAN TAKES ON SCHUH: Hundreds of Democrats gathered Saturday in the “big barn” on Dodon Farm in Davidsonville as horse farmer and former community organizer Steuart Pittman announced his run for Anne Arundel County executive, hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Steve Schuh. “We’re growing too fast,” Pittman said in one of his key themes, but “we’re not going to be anti-developer.” “If we raise $1 million, we can beat Steve Schuh’s $3 million easily,” said Pittman, as he collected a $1,000 check from the county’s firefighters union.  Len Lazarick, MarylandReporter.com

CORDERMAN TO TAKE OATH: Hagerstown City Councilman Paul Corderman will officially become Washington County’s newest state legislator next Wednesday, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. Corderman is scheduled to take his new oath of office as delegate from legislative District 2B at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the House chamber of the Maryland State House, Speaker Michael E. Busch’s office confirmed Friday.

WA CO CANDIDATES: Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail lists all the candidates who have filed for pertinent offices thus far.

DARVISH MULLS MO CO EXEC RUN: Potomac businesswoman Tammy Darvish is considering entering the race for the Democratic nomination for Montgomery County executive in 2018, Steve Hull of Bethesda Beat reports. Darvish said on Saturday that she’s been talking with friends and potential supporters about running and that she will have additional conversations in the weeks ahead. Feb. 27 is the filing deadline for the June 26 primary.

SCRAMBLE FOR SEN. RAMIREZ’s SEAT: When state Sen. Victor Ramirez (D) decided to run for Prince George’s County state’s attorney, it was initially assumed that Del. Jimmy Tarlau (D) would seek the seat – and have the upper hand. But Tarlau chose to seek a second House term instead, and what has resulted is a wide-open, three-way Democratic Senate primary with no clear frontrunner, potential racial overtones, and myriad overlapping alliances that would look like a Venn diagram if someone tried to map them, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

MATTHEWS’ HONESTY QUESTIONS: Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland is contending that the Maryland Democratic Party cannot be taken seriously any longer after it was reported in the conservative Daily Caller that 20 years ago, MSNBC paid a co-worker of her husband, Hardball host Chris Matthews, $40,000 for a separation agreement after she filed a harassment complaint against him for making sexist comments about her in front of others. The party is run by Matthews’ wife, Kathleen Matthews. Griffiths writes that, “It’s even more ridiculous to see that (Kathleen) Matthews spent so much time attacking Maryland Republicans for things that Roy Moore did at a time where she almost certainly knew that she was complicit in covering up the boorish behavior of her own husband.”

SESSIONS ADDS STAFF IN MARYLAND: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is assigning three additional prosecutors to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, part of a broader reallocation the Justice Department announced Friday to confront violent crime, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

PEROUTKA PROTEST: The last Anne Arundel County Council meeting of 2017 will look somewhat like a greatest hits selection with returning legislation and renewed calls for Councilmember Michael Peroutka to resign, reports Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital. A group of county residents are planning to attend tonight’s meeting focused on asking Peroutka to resign his new position as chair of the council. They also plan on asking him to resign. A closed Facebook event was created to invite county residents to the meeting.

BROADENED ETHICS AUTHORITY IN WA CO: Washington County Commissioner Wayne Keefer said he wants himself and his fellow commissioners to meet with the county’s ethics commission to discuss broadening the panel’s authority and scope to matters beyond unethical financial gain, Julie Greene reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

NAVY ALUMNI TO HONOR McCAIN: U.S. Sen. John McCain is on the list of honorees for the Naval Academy Alumni Association’s 2018 Distinguished Graduate Awards, writes Rachael Pacella in the Annapolis Capital. McCain, who is currently hospitalized as he deals with aggressive brain cancer, was one of six graduates who will be recognized for a lifetime of service to the nation and for being living role models for midshipmen.