State Roundup, May 30, 2018

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ERVIN THREATENS SUIT OVER BALLOT: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin has sent a letter to state elections officials threatening legal action if ballots are not reprinted for the June primary to show her name in place of her deceased previous running mate, Kevin Kamenetz, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. In a letter sent to the Maryland State Board of Elections on Sunday, an attorney for Ervin also suggested a different solution: affix stickers over Kamenetz’s name that would show Ervin’s name instead.

REP. HARRIS SAYS OFF-SHORE WIND NEEDS STUDY: A massive offshore wind development off Maryland’s Atlantic coast could put marine life in danger and should undergo further study before construction starts, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris says. Jeremy Cox of the Salisbury Daily Times reports that the Republican, who represents the Eastern Shore, is sponsoring a measure requiring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to spend up to two years researching the project’s potential consequences.

SALES TAX DEFERMENT FOR FLOODED BUSINESSES: Comptroller Peter Franchot is giving businesses affected by the devastating flooding in Ellicott City this past weekend more time to pay their sales taxes, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Ellicott City-area businesses will receive a six-month extension for Howard County business tax returns due. The extension includes sales and use tax, withholding tax and admissions and amusement tax.

FLOODING ‘EKGs:’ On May 21, one week before the Ellicott City flooding, the Howard County Times published this article by Kate Magill: In an effort to better monitor the “veins” of the heart of historic Ellicott City, its waterways, officials on Monday announced plans to install “EKGs,” as county councilman Jon Weinstein called them— stream gauges that experts say will help them analyze water flow patterns and buy residents valuable time to make preparations for flooding.

HIKE IN GUEST WORKER VISAS: The AP is reporting that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced it will issue an additional 15,000 guest worker, or H-2B, visas this year above previous allocations. U.S. Rep. Andy Harris called the 15,000 “a start,” though he added there’s still more work to do since they won’t accommodate the full demand this year. Harris added that the drop in unemployment has increased the demand for temporary seasonal workers, causing Maryland’s seafood processing industry and other seasonal industries to suffer.

CHINESE SISTER STATE: This week, Anhui province has sent its largest delegation to Maryland with the aim of increasing trade and tourism, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com. Gov. Larry Hogan declared the week Maryland-Anhui Promotion Week, and “both want to re-invigorate the partnership,” said Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford Tuesday kicking off a two-day event at the Rockville Hilton.

UPDATED TAX LIENS ON CANDIDATE: Montgomery County Clerk candidate Alan Bowser, D,  has two unsatisfied tax liens filed against him in the same Circuit Court he wants to manage. According to Maryland court records, a state tax lien for $20,788 and a federal tax lien for $47,710 is registered against him for 2008 to 2011. Last week Meiklejohn accused Bowser of misrepresenting endorsement claims. Bowser says he is currently in compliance with IRS filing requirements and is working on a resolution which is related to a small business tax matter. He says that the tax liens are unrelated to his affidavit for 2017 saying he would neither raise nor spend $1,000 in the race. Bowser said he’s raised $10,000 this year, although his latest campaign finance filing on the state’s official website says he had zero receipts. Bowser said he told the board that is an error.  MarylandReporter.com

NEXT DEM DEBATE: The crowded field of Democrats running for governor will compete in the second televised debate of the campaign today as the seven major candidates seek to gain traction with less than 30 days until the primary election. The debate will be broadcast at 7 p.m. in the Washington area, Erin Cox of the Sun writes.

BLAND GUBERNATORIAL RACE: Political columnist Barry Rascovar, writing in his politicalmaryland blog, opines that the timing of a June primary in Maryland is almost certain to result in an exceedingly light turnout. So is the field of bland, non-controversial and non-charismatic Democrats running for governor. Most of this year’s top primary contests have a scrambled-eggs quality to them. Take the race for Maryland governor. It’s “Snow White” Hogan vs. the Seven Democratic Dwarfs. … In the tightly contested primaries for county executive — Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Baltimore County — it’s hard to tell if anyone is the front-runner.

STATE MUST PROTECT ECONOMIC RIGHTS: Marceline White of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, in an op-ed for the Sun, writes that any efforts to protect economic rights must happen at the state level. Maryland’s General Assembly has made strides in the past few years: expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, passing sick leave, creating a Consumer Financial Protection Commission, ending payday loans, and increasing regulation and financial redress for Maryland students at for-profit schools. … But you wouldn’t know any of this by reading the policy platforms of Maryland’s gubernatorial candidates.

EDWARDS FILES CAMPAIGN REPORT: Prince George’s County executive candidate Donna F. Edwards filed her most recent campaign finance report Saturday — four days after the deadline — documenting that she raised $138,422 and loaned herself $180,000 from Jan. 11 to May 15. State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks, who is Edwards’ leading rival, took in $296,239 during the same reporting period. With four weeks to go until the June 26 Democratic primary, Edwards has $240,883 on hand, compared with $848,325 for Alsobrooks, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

NEW ACLU DIRECTOR: The ACLU of Maryland is getting a new director following the retirement of longtime civil rights lawyer Susan Goering. Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that Dana Vickers Shelley, a management and communications consultant who has worked for a variety of Maryland institutions, will take over the ACLU’s state office on June 11.

GUN HEARING TURNS INTO CAMPAIGN: A hearing Tuesday on a bill to stiffen gun possession laws in one county has turned political among candidates and supporters of candidates running for Baltimore County executive, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. The bill, sponsored by Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, who is running for county executive, would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to have access to a loaded firearm. The measure attracted support from candidates and surrogates for candidates opposing Almond in the June 26 Democratic primary, giving Almond and her colleagues an opportunity to further tout the bill.

MOHLER TAKES REINS IN BALTIMORE COUNTY: Don Mohler was sworn in as Baltimore County’s 13th county executive Tuesday morning, Pamela Wood writes in the Sun. Mohler took the oath of office during a private ceremony in Towson. He now officially takes over leadership of the county from Fred Homan, the county administrative officer who had served as acting county executive after the death of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on May 10.

MOSBY A NO-SHOW AT BUDGET HEARING: The chairman of the Baltimore City Council’s budget committee expressed disappointment that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby didn’t show up for a budget hearing Tuesday night and said he is rescheduling the agency’s budget hearing until next week, in hopes that Mosby attends. “Where is the head of the agency?” Councilman Eric Costello asked staffers with the state’s attorney’s office three times at the beginning of the hearing, Christina Tkacik reports in the Sun.

MO CO COUNCIL TWITTER ACCOUNT HACKED: Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat reports that Montgomery County Council staff members say they believe the council’s Twitter account was compromised and used to post a message containing offensive language Tuesday morning. The tweet posted on the council account included a couple of expletives and questioned media reports about new estimates of the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Council spokeswoman Susan Kenedy said the tweet was sent at 10:29 a.m. and taken down about five minutes later.