State Roundup, July 12, 2018

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DRIVE FOR FIVE: In the Republican “Drive for Five,” GOP leaders know that District 30, covering the Annapolis area and south, will be a key to getting more senators in the State House. The GOP’s goal is to win five more state Senate seats, bringing their number to the crucial 19 that would enable them to block overrides of Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes with the largest contingent of Republican lawmakers ever. That’s why Hogan on Tuesday gave his “100% enthusiastic endorsement” to former Del. Ron George, 64, at a fundraiser at Annapolis Yacht Club, a man who ran against Hogan in the Republican primary four years ago, Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes.

FLOREEN JUMPS INTO MO CO EXEC RACE: Longtime Democrat Nancy Floreen launched an independent bid for Montgomery County executive on Wednesday, calling the Republican and Democratic nominees for the office “flawed extremes” and urging residents of the affluent and liberal suburb “to put principle and pragmatism above purely party politics,” Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

SOPHOCLEUS TO BE SWORN IN: The wife of an Anne Arundel County lawmaker who died last month is being sworn in to finish the rest of his term. Alice Sophocleus will be sworn in by House Speaker Michael Busch today, the AP is reporting. Her husband, former Del. Ted Sophocleus, died last month at the age of 79 after serving 22 years in the Maryland House of Delegates.

FRANCHOT BLASTS POTENTIAL SPECIAL SESSION: Maryland’s top tax collector blasted lawmakers over a potential special session to lay the groundwork for legalized sports betting, saying the prospect of such a meeting is “a big mistake given the election year we’re in.” Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Comptroller Peter Franchot, a Democrat who has frequently butted heads with legislative leaders of his own party, took to social media this week to oppose a special session. At issue, he said in an interview, is that any expansion of gaming should be left to the next legislature when it is seated in January and not “lame-duck lawmakers.”

FRANCHOT ISSUES TAX SCOFFLAW LIST: Baltimore defense attorney Warren A. Brown is on the state comptroller’s naughty list. In a list of the top businesses and individuals who owe the state a total of $12.7 million in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest, Brown owes the state $253,214, ranking No. 8 among individual taxpayers, Anamika Roy reports in the Daily Record. Comptroller Peter Franchot’s office publishes the names of top offenders as part of its Caught in the Web program to shame those on the list to pay what they owe. You can see the list here.

HONORING SLAIN AT CAPITAL GAZETTE: Congress paused for a moment of silence this afternoon to honor the victims of the June 28 shooting at the Capital Gazette’s Annapolis newsroom. U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown led the remembrance with other members of the Maryland House delegation, Colin Campbell of the Sun reports.

JOURNALISTS VOLUNTEER AT CAPITAL GAZETTE: After the horrific shooting at the Capital Gazette, in which five staffers were killed on June 28 in the newsroom near Annapolis, Md., journalists from across the country — the New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, the Boston Globe and others — have been lining up to help the community newspaper. Alison Klein of the Post reports that dozens of journalists emailed the paper and asked what they could do, and others simply showed up and said, “Put me to work.”

KAVANAUGH’s MARYLAND: Paul Schwartzman and Michelle Boorstein of the Post write about the community that Maryland judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh lives in. “Most people in Washington tell you what they do,” said Tim Higgins said from behind the bar of the Chevy Chase Lounge on Tuesday, the day after Trump nominated Kavanaugh. “I never knew Brett was a lawyer. I expect we’ll be seeing him in here a lot less.”

HOWARD COUNCIL TO HAVE ALL NEW MEMBERS: Political newcomer Liz Walsh held on to her upset victory over incumbent Howard County Councilman Jon Weinstein in last month’s Democratic primary after a recount Wednesday. Walsh gained two votes in the recount and Weinstein lost two, making the final tally 3,175 votes for Walsh and 3,169 for Weinstein. The race was one of the closest in recent county history and will mean that the next five-member County Council, to be installed in December, will have all new members, Kate Magill of the Howard County Times reports.

MAYOR APOLOGIZES FOR LANGUAGE: C.J. Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that as hundreds weighed in on Facebook, Hagerstown Mayor Bob Bruchey took to the same platform Tuesday night to offer an apology and provide some context to his comments calling London’s Muslim mayor a “terrorist.” “My strong opinion came from the fact that he gave his support to a group to fly a balloon of our Presiden Bruchey provided further comment Wednesday to Herald-Mail Media, writing in a statement sent via text message that “my use of the word terrorist was unwarranted and extreme.”

STATE FUNDING JEOPARDIZED: Baltimore City’s summer youth jobs program is riddled with problems. That’s according to an audit presented to the Board of Estimates this morning. Acting City Auditor Audrey Askew says it puts the program at risk of losing state funding. Dominique Maria Bonessi of WYPR-FM reports that the audit found the 2017 YouthWorks program paid roughly $3,800 last summer to 11 participants who never did any work, others lied on timesheets about hours worked and in at least one case, someone falsified a youth’s name for job placement. Jason Perkins-Cohen, director of Youth Works, says the problems stem from a lack of resources.