State Roundup, December 19, 2017

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PIPELINE CONCERNS: Clean-water activists who have spent much of 2017 attempting to block a proposed natural gas pipeline beneath the Potomac River and C&O Canal in western Maryland will have a chance to testify this evening at a state environmental hearing in Hancock, Patricia Sullivan reports for the Post. The Maryland Department of Environment is holding a hearing on whether to award a clean water permit for a 3.5-mile pipeline that would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, bisecting the narrowest slice of Maryland’s panhandle.

A CLEANER BAY: Water quality in the Chesapeake Bay has reached a near-record high, according to estimates announced Thursday, Dec. 14, by the Chesapeake Bay Program. Josh Bollinger of the Easton Star Democrat writes that, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey, almost 40% of the Bay and its tidal tributaries met clean water standards for clarity, oxygen and algae growth between 2014 and 2016, which represents a 2% increase from the previous assessment period.

HOGAN ON SICK LEAVE PLAN: In an op-ed in the Post, Gov. Larry Hogan outlines his reasons for vetoing last session’s sick leave bill that was passed by the General Assembly and his decision to come up with alternative legislation. “To address these serious flaws and chart a path forward, I will introduce the Paid Leave Compromise Act of 2018 as emergency legislation on the first day of the upcoming legislative session,” he writes.

McMILLAN ON THE ACA: In an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital, Del. Herb McMillan writes that House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch has said the Affordable Care Act, usually known as Obamacare, was being “sabotaged.” He said this even as middle-class Marylanders saw the cost of their “affordable” Obamacare health insurance policies skyrocket. Busch then suggested that, after a “rocky start,” the Affordable Care Act was a big success in Maryland. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true for everyone,  McMillan says.

PEROUTKA PROTESTED: For about a dozen people at Monday night’s Anne Arundel County Council meeting, chairman Michael Peroutka’s resignation was high on their Christmas wish lists, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital. The calls for the Millersville Republican’s resignation were in response to Peroutka’s ascension to the County Council chairman position. He was voted chair in a party line vote at the Dec. 4 meeting. About 40 people in the audience supported the speakers, applauding and standing after comments were made.

PRIVATE THEN, PUBLIC NOW? The state’s Open Meetings Compliance Board issued an opinion stating that Frederick’s Downtown Hotel Advisory Committee did not violate Maryland’s Open Meetings Act by operating behind closed doors and without notice to the public. However, the opinion said that if the complaint were taken to a court of law, it could have a different outcome, Mallory Panuska of the Frederick News Post reports. The compliance board agreed that when the hotel committee formed in 2010 it was not a public body. It did say, however, that board members do not have enough information to determine whether the committee is a public body now.

PG COUNCILWOMAN TO RUN FOR DELEGATE: Andrea Harrison has represented the residents of District 5 in Prince George’s County on its county council for nearly a decade. Now, she wants to use that experience as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 24, James Wright reports in the Afro.

TRONE ON TRUMP: David Trone, a candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat currently held by presidential candidate John Delaney, writes in an op-ed for Maryland Matters that. “If (President) Trump were true to his Wharton (Business School) training, he would know that many of his proposals will aggravate existing problems rather than solve them. As scholars at Wharton and elsewhere have demonstrated repeatedly, income inequality, restrictive immigration policy and rapidly accelerating national debt undermine long-term economic growth.”

PAY RAISES IN BALTIMORE: Baltimore’s elected officials are set to get a pay raise at the start of the new year. The city’s spending panel, the Board of Estimates, will note the pay increases at a meeting Wednesday, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun. Starting on Jan. 1, Mayor Catherine Pugh’s salary will increase from about $176,000 to more than $180,000.