State Roundup, January 25, 2018

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HARASSMENT REMEDIES, PANEL: The women’s caucus is recommending ways the General Assembly can do more to prevent sexual harassment in Annapolis and to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct that get filed against elected officials, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. Del. Ariana Kelly, head of the Women Legislators of Maryland, said, “Our goal is to take advantage of the moment right now … to make Maryland the best political environment we can make it, and really eradicate harassment to the best of our ability.”

TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR RX POT BIZ: The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will consider a measure that would extend tax deductions for business expenses to medical marijuana growers, Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News-Post reports. Sen. Ron Young (D-District 3) took the bill before the committee Wednesday saying, “This is a very simple bill that I think would correct some unfairness.”

JUDICIARY BUDGET: The Maryland Judiciary seeks $591 million in fiscal year 2019 – a 5% increase from the $562 million appropriated for the judicial branch this fiscal year, which ends June 30, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record. About 90% of the Judiciary’s proposed increase is attributable to a $25 million rise in salaries, wages and fringe benefits. The budget request calls for a 1.5% increase in authorized positions, to 4,051 from 3,989 this fiscal year.

SAILING HALL OF FAME: Gov. Larry Hogan has removed $1.25 million in capital funding for the National Sailing Hall of Fame as the organization moves closer to solidifying a deal in Rhode Island and moving out of Annapolis, reports Chase Cook for the Annapolis Capital. The money was deauthorized in Hogan’s fiscal 2019 budget in part because of failure to meet fundraising goals. “The National Sailing Hall Fame has consistently failed to meet their obligations under the Memorandum of Understanding with the state,” said Shareese N. Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman.

FILM TAX CREDIT: Maryland filmmakers speaking on behalf of a film tax credit bill said they would like to see Maryland become the next Georgia, reports Kelsi Loos in the Frederick News-Post. Just under two dozen members of the film industry, many based in Frederick County, spoke Wednesday before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee to lend support to a measure that would set aside half a million dollars in tax credits for Maryland filmmakers.

BIRTH CERTIFICATES AT MVA: People born in Maryland will be able to get a copy of their birth certificates at Motor Vehicle Administration offices when they renew their driver’s licenses, under a bill passed by the state Senate, the AP is reporting. The bill passed Wednesday and now goes to the House.

OUTFLANKING HOGAN: Democrats are attempting to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan  on the issue of climate change — but Hogan is trying hard not to let them outflank him. State Sen. Paul G. Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, introduced a bill this week that would require the legislature to approve any decision by the governor to withdraw the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Even though Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles is the current RGGI chairman, and Hogan and Grumbles have worked hard to burnish the administration’s environmental record, Pinsky said he introduced the bill “as insurance,” writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

LAWMAKERS TO QUESTION INTERIM SUPER: State lawmakers from Baltimore County are gearing up to question interim school superintendent Verletta White about a wide range of issues — charges against her former boss, questions about her own consulting work and the continuing audit of district purchasing – on Friday, just three days after a county grand jury indicted former superintendent Dallas Dance on four counts of perjury for failing to disclose income he received for consulting work, Doug Donovan and Scott Dance report in the Sun.

THE CONTENDER: With Montgomery County as an actual contender in the race for Amazon HQ2, some are looking at White Flint as a possible location in the county. What would that look like? Andrew Metcalf and Bethany Rodgers ponder for Bethesda Beat.

COULDABEEN A CONTENDA: The editorial board for the Sun wanted to find out if Baltimore City really ‘couldabeen a contenda’ for Amazon HQ2 despite its many problems. It took hard data from the city and other contenders and analyzed them, discovering that while it wouldn’t have made No. 1, there is no reason it couldn’t have been in the Top 20.

WHADABOUT HOWARD? While the monetary incentives offered by Howard County have not been revealed, former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said he wasn’t surprised the county was cut from the running because of its lack of mass transit, which was one of the “core preferences” listed in Amazon’s request for proposals, Kate Magill of the Howard County Times reports.

FIXING POLICING PART 4: In Part 4 in this Capital News Service series on fixing policing in Baltimore City, Chris Miller and Helen Parshall report that neighborhood by neighborhood, residents have different views of the Baltimore City Police. The articles appear in MarylandReporter.

LIVE FROM THE PIT: MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick joins Md. Public TV’s Charles Robinson for Robinson’s first podcast Live from the Pit, a 7-minute overview of the first two weeks of session. Lazarick’s audio is a bit murky coming from a work station in the main State House press room, aka, the Pit, home to more than a dozen reporters and videographers.

CARDIN, VAN HOLLEN IN MIDDLE OF PACK: Morning Consult, an online polling firm using large samples of registered voters, released its latest ratings of U.S. senators Tuesday. It found Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen ranking in the middle of the pack of the 100 senators with very similar ratings. Cardin, up for re-election this year, had 50% approval, 24% disapproval, and a surprising 29% who offered no opinion. Van Hollen, beginning his third year in the Senate, had 48% approval, 23% disapproval and 27% didn’t know or offered no opinion. The poll compiles ratings taken over the previous three months, offers no further breakdowns by demographics and doesn’t include any reaction to their votes to end the government shutdown.

GERRYMANDERING CASE SCHEDULED: The Supreme Court will hear arguments March 28 on whether Maryland’s Democrat-led General Assembly unconstitutionally redrew a congressional district to replace a Republican U.S. representative with a Democratic one, according to the Daily Record.

EMOLUMENTS SUIT: Maryland attorneys will argue in federal court today that the state was harmed by payments that President Trump’s real estate company received, and that those payments violated the Constitution. The arguments stem from a lawsuit filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia in June alleging payments to Trump’s firm violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

AFL-CIO COUNCIL BACKS ELRICH FOR MO CO EXEC: Marc Elrich, a longtime Democrat on the Montgomery County Council, picked up his latest endorsement in the race for Montgomery County executive Wednesday from the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, reports Rachel Siegel in the Post.

NO CARS, BUT $10,000 BOOST FOR PG COUNCIL: Arelis R. Hernández of the Post is reporting that Prince George’s County lawmakers are in line for a $10,000 salary boost to offset the likely loss of a generous automobile perk unique in the Washington area. The increase, which was unveiled this week by the county’s Compensation Review Board, would take effect after the November elections unless a two-thirds majority of the council votes against it by April 30. The panel also recommended a 2.5% cost-of-living increase, and the increases would raise the salaries of the next county council to $133,356.

  • Can’t Paul ‘Pinko’ Pinsky find anything better to do than push a proposal from a governor who agrees with Pinsky on an environmental issue? Maybe the senator could lower my taxes.