State Roundup, April 12, 2018

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HOGAN STILL #2: Gov. Larry Hogan is still the second most popular governor in America, according to Morning Consult’s first quarter poll. He has 68% approval and 17% disapproval, and is only edged out by 3 points by another Republican governor of a blue state, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts. The 10 most popular governors are all Republicans, but for the first time in their polling, the least popular governor is a Democrat, Dan Malloy of Connecticut with a 72% disapproval.

CARDIN AT 50%: The same polling firm has U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, up for re-election this year, at 50% approve, 25% disapprove, and Sen. Chris Van Hollen at 48%-22%. Lots of folks, more than 25%, have no opinion or don’t know their U.S. senators.

WINNERS AND LOSERS: The Sun editorialists choose their winners and losers for the just finished session of the General Assembly. Winners include Gov. Hogan, Sen. Rich Madaleno and bipartisanship.

DELEGATE BLAMES JHU FOR WATERED DOWN BILL: At first glance, Del. Ben Kramer’s multiyear effort to protect companion animals was successful on two fronts during the just-finished 2018 session of the Maryland General Assembly. But Kramer was not happy with the final form in which the latter legislation and he pointed the blame at one of the state’s most prominent research institutions: Johns Hopkins University, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports.

BUSINESS UPBEAT AFTER SESSION: Business groups in Maryland feel pretty good about the General Assembly’s just-finished 2018 session. The biggest reason for their relatively rosy view is the defeat of a proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour. Overcoming the proposal was a top priority of businesses already worried about mandated paid sick leave hurting their enterprises, Adam Bednar reports in the Daily Record.

WORKPLACE HARASSMENT BILL PASSED: Marylanders will get an idea of how many sexual harassment claims are made among the larger employers in the state and have more protections to make sexual harassment claims under a bill passed by the General Assembly this session. Anamika Roy of the Daily Record reports that the Disclosing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Act of 2018, which awaits Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature, prevents employers from asking employees to waive their future rights to come forward with sexual harassment complaints.

REVIVING FAILED MEASURES: Frederick County’s representatives in the General Assembly found that the 2018 session was productive overall, but they each had at least one bill they would like to bring back if re-elected in November, reports Kelsi Loos in the Frederick News Post.

SMALL BILLS: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital takes a look at some of the small Arundel bills that either should have made it or did make it through the General Assembly process and should have meaningful impact on Maryland. One that failed would have made contractual and temporary state’s attorney’s employees public officials, ensuring that they are bound by state ethics rules.

NO OYSTER RESTORATION FUNDS: Oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay faces an uncertain future because the federal budget recently passed by Congress failed to provide any dedicated money to continue reef construction in either Maryland or Virginia. But the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2018 — approved March 23 and signed the same day by President Trump — marks the second year in a row with no specific appropriation for the Corps to continue reef restoration in the Bay, reports the Bay Journal’s Timothy Wheeler in MarylandReporter.

ELECTION LANDSCAPE: Now that the session is over, campaign season will get into full swing and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record looks at the looming landscape with political observers Mileah Kromer and Todd Eberly. It’s a scene that is in flux with many lawmakers retiring or seeking another office and some trying to settle scores.

GIVE INDEPENDENTS PRIMARY VOTE: In an op-ed for the Aegis, independent voter Spencer Levy opines that political primaries are a big deal, particularly in states like Maryland that heavily favor one party. So the disenfranchisement of independent voters is no accident and is done by excluding them  from primaries and by gerrymandering districts to dilute and, in some cases, eliminate our enfranchisement.

OAKS SEEKS TO REMOVE NAME FROM BALLOT: First he resigned. Then he pleaded guilty. Now former state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks is backing an effort to remove his name from the ballot, reports Ian Duncan in the Sun. After months of public silence about his federal corruption case, the Baltimore Democrat said Wednesday he supports a lawsuit that would allow him to formally bow out of a primary election scheduled weeks before he is to be sentenced.

BA CO EXEC DEBATE: For the first time, the three leading Democrats running for Baltimore County executive shared a stage during a debate Wednesday night. It did not take long for them to level sharp criticisms at one another. Councilwoman Vicki Almond, state Sen. Jim Brochin and former state Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. each took strategic swipes at the other candidates while trying to portray themselves as the best leader for the county’s future, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

MO CO CANDIDATES LIST: Here is MarylandReporter’s updated list of more than 200 candidates for local, state and federal offices in Montgomery County as of April 9, 2018. The updated list includes endorsements given by unions and advocacy groups. Candidates for county executive and county council are listed first, followed by the state legislature, Congress and statewide offices.

SIERRA CLUB BACKS EDWARDS: The Sierra Club’s Maryland chapter is backing Donna F. Edwards in the race for Prince George’s County executive, citing her history of activism for environmental causes, Rachel Chason reports in the Post. Edwards, a former congresswoman, got her start in politics as an activist opposed to the original plans for the National Harbor project in Prince George’s. She successfully pushed for a hiking and biking trail and more green space.