State Roundup, April 24, 2018

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HOGAN DOMINATES IN NEW POLL: Gov. Larry Hogan is currently dominating all of his prospective Democratic rivals by double digits as voters say the first-term Republican has effectively distanced himself from President Donald J. Trump, according to a Goucher Poll released Tuesday, reports Michael Dresser and Pamela Wood of the Sun.

PET STORES PUSH BACK ON PUPPY MILL BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan plans to sign legislation into law this morning to ban retail pet stores from selling puppies and kittens, despite pushback from the owners of the state’s seven affected pet stores, who lobbied unsuccessfully to convince the governor to veto the bill. The owners say they use responsible breeders that lawmakers and advocates have inaccurately characterized as “puppy mills.” By 2020, when the law will fully take effect, the owners say Marylanders will have fewer options for finding purebred puppies and could turn to the Internet, where sales are difficult to regulate and fake websites abound, reports Rachel Chason for the Post.

ARUNDEL GETS SAFE STATION GRANT: Anne Arundel County announced Monday it will use a new $500,000 state grant to expand the effort to help people coming to police stations and firehouses for addiction treatment resources, reports Phil Davis for the Annapolis Capital. Just days after the county quietly marked a year of unexpected numbers at its Safe Stations program, county Health Officer Fran Phillips released a statement saying that the county Mental Health Agency was awarded the grant by the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission. It will fund a second response team for firehouses and police departments.

PRE-K DONE RIGHT: In an op-ed for MarylandReporter, Margaret E. Williams of Maryland Family Network addresses last Friday’s story on the Maryland Public Policy Institute poll in which voters say they are against making cuts to roads and transportation, public safety, or children’s health insurance to afford expansion of pre-kindergarten education. She writes, “We at Maryland Family Network, one of the state’s leading advocates for pre-K, agree that we shouldn’t trim back on those essential services. But this either/or scenario proposed by the pollsters doesn’t reflect the reality of pre-K implementation, when it’s done right.”

UNDER RAHN’s WATCH: In an op-ed for Maryland Matters, Gary Hodge of Regional Policy Advisors, a public policy consulting firm, opines that for the past three years, a tectonic shift has been underway in how transportation policy and capital investment decisions are made in Maryland under Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn. Highly consequential multi-billion dollar decisions are being made without transparency, without evaluation of their feasibility, effectiveness and public acceptance, without consideration of competitive multi-modal alternatives, such as rapid transit, and without accountability or meaningful consultation with state and local elected officials.

OAKS DROPS RIGHT TO VOTE: Before he pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges last month, Nathaniel Oaks gave up his seat in the Maryland Senate. Now the veteran Baltimore Democrat has given up his right to vote as part of a whirlwind effort to make sure his name does not appear on the June 26 Democratic primary ballot, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun. The Baltimore Board of Elections late Monday afternoon accepted Oaks’ request to surrender his voter registration — a move Oaks hopes will convince a judge to formally remove the 71-year-old Democrat’s name from the ballot.

GOP ATTACKS MATHIAS IN NEW FLYER: If a flyer mailed out recently is to be believed, Jim Mathias is in favor of mobile “drug dens” where people can “legally shoot up heroin.” The ad, paid for by the Maryland Republican Party, is what state Sen. Mathias, D-38th-Worcester, calls a distorted view of a bill he supported that would have opened the door to counseling for heroin addicts and also saved lives. Del. Mary Beth Carozza, R-38C-Worcester, who is challenging Mathias for his Senate seat, said she had nothing to do with the material, Liz Holland of the Salisbury Daily Times reports.

HOW DEM CANDIDATES VOTE: David Lublin of Seventh State charts what method each Democratic gubernatorial candidate used to vote since 1994 and whether they even voted at all. He also questions Krish Vignarajah’s eligibility to run based on her voting record, who he found voted in Maryland just once in the last decade, in 2016.

KAMENETZ WORKS FOR ENDORSEMENT: Last week Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County executive and a Democratic candidate for governor, along with his running mate, Valerie Ervin, found themselves on their knees scrubbing tubs and making beds at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, alongside and under the direction of two women who do such physically demanding labor day in and day out, all to accept the endorsement of the union that represents workers at the Gaylord, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

FREDERICK REPUBLICAN HOPEFULS SQUARE OFF: Hood College held the first Republican debate of the season for Frederick County executive and County Council at-large hopefuls, where the candidates found more in common than not, Kelsi Loos reports for the Frederick News Post. With the 2018 primary election just two months away, county executive candidates Del. Kathy Afzali (R-District 4), Councilman Kirby Delauter and Regina Williams squared off Monday night, followed by at-large candidates Phil Dacey, Danny Farrar, Justin Kiska and Jason Miller.

HOWARD TEACHERS BACK BALL FOR COUNTY EXEC: The Howard County Education Association, the union that represents more than 5,000 educators in the county’s public schools, has endorsed Democrat Calvin Ball in the 2018 race for county executive, Kate Magill reports for the Howard County Times.

VOTING FOR ONLY THREE: In a two-part series on under-voting in Montgomery County’s at-large council races, Adam Pagnucco of Seventh State writes that voters can vote for up to four candidates and the leading four vote-getters win. In Part One, he writes, “A common statement heard from candidates is, “You have four votes to cast.  There are a lot of good candidates in this race. I hope I can earn one of your votes.” But that statement, while politically appealing, doesn’t actually reflect the reality of at-large voting.  Lots of voters don’t cast four votes in the at-large race.  On average, they cast only three.”

PUBLIC FINANCING IN BALTIMORE? In an attempt to diminish the influence of wealthy political donors and force candidates to spend more time talking to voters, a Baltimore City Council member introduced legislation Monday to establish a system of public financing for city campaigns, Ian Duncan reports in the Sun.