State Roundup, July 24, 2018

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DELEGATES CRITICIZE HOGAN ON STATE CENTER REDO: House of Delegates leaders sent a letter Monday criticizing the Hogan administration’s attempt to redo plans for a State Center redevelopment while urging the governor to back existing plans favored by nearby communities, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. “There is significant concern about a plan to start anew on a phantom project,” wrote State Del. Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Appropriations Committee. “The community is tired of getting the same ‘short shrift.’”

JEALOUS’s $24B PLAN COULD SAVE MONEY: An attack ad by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) paints the health-care plan proposed by his Democratic opponent, Ben Jealous, as irresponsible and unaffordable. But, Steve Thompson of the Post reports, the dramatic number it relies on — $24 billion — was gleaned from state analysts who based their work on a study suggesting such plans could save money overall. The ad says Jealous’s “risky plan for health care will cost at least $24 billion a year. Every year.” That figure considers only half the trade-off at the heart of Jealous’s proposal — a “single payer” or “Medicare for all” plan of the sort that has gained increasing support among progressive Democrats in recent years.

HOGAN OUTRAISES JEALOUS IN MoCo: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is currently “blowing out” Democrat Ben Jealous in Montgomery County fundraising 5 to 1, writes Adam Pagnucco in the Seventh State blog, even though MoCo is the traditional ATM for statewide Democratic candidates. Hogan has raised $1.5 million there compared to $303,000 for Jealous.

JEALOUS RELEASES NRA SURVEY ANSWERS: Ben Jealous, the Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, on Monday released his answers to the 2018 National Rifle Association questionnaire and called on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to do the same, writes the Sun’s Luke Broadwater. “The people of Maryland deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials,” Jealous said in a statement. “When an organization like the NRA has repeatedly called for policies that go against Maryland values, we all deserve to know where our elected officials stand in public and in private.”

HOGAN DISSES NRA: Gov. Larry Hogan has no plans to accept donations from the gun lobby and no intention of filling out a questionnaire from the National Rifle Association, his deputy campaign manager said Monday. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that Doug Mayer said the governor told a group of students last week that he has “no interest” in accepting contributions from the gun rights group or answering the survey, which the organization generally uses to decide whether to endorse candidates.

HOGAN’s DRIVE FOR FIVE: If Gov. Larry Hogan (R) wins re-election and Maryland Republicans are successful in their “Drive for Five” and can swing a handful of state Senate races this fall, Annapolis will be a very different place in 2019. That’s because the Democrats who control the legislature will no longer be able to overturn Hogan vetoes on their own, something they have done with relative ease since 2015, Bruce DePuyt and Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters write.

CRIME VICTIMS FUND: Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration is making up to $78 million in federal funding available for victims of crime, according to the AP. The funding from the Victims of Crime Assistance Grant is available to Maryland counties and programs serving victims of crime.

DELANEY, HARRIS UNITE ON ELECTIONS BILL: It was a little more than a week ago that the FBI told Maryland officials that a Russian-backed firm owns the servers where much of the state’s election data is stored. That has brought together U.S. Reps. John Delaney, a Democrat, and Andy Harris, a Republican, who together introduced a bill last week that would make it extremely hard for foreign countries to win contracts for vital components of U.S. elections, Matt Laslo of WYPR-FM is reporting.

AFTER RECOUNT, ELRICH REMAINS PRIMARY WINNER: A recount Monday in the Democratic primary for Montgomery county executive slightly changed the vote totals but not the outcome: At-large council member Marc Elrich remains the Democratic nominee, Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports.

HARRIS TAKEN TO TASK: In an op-ed for the Sun, Baldwin resident Patrick Muth, a Larry Hogan supporter who calls himself “a moderate liberal with pro-business leanings and a commitment to the capitalist system,” excoriates his congressman, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris. He calls Harris unpatriotic for his unquestioning defense of President Donald Trump even while Trump expressed disdain for federal agents, his support of dismantling the Affordable Care Act although he is a doctor, and being complicit in the president’s inhuman separation of refugee families while publicly complaining about Maryland’s lack of access to work visas for migrant workers who annually underwrite the economy of Eastern Shore agriculture.

SENATE HOPEFUL SUBMITS PETITIONS: Independent U.S. Senate hopeful Neal J. Simon has submitted more than 12,000 petition signatures to the state Board of Elections, the result of a four-month, statewide effort he hopes will put him on the ballot this fall, Bruce DePuyt writes for Maryland Matters.

STATE WORKER EVALUATIONS LACKING: State law requires every state government employee to have twice yearly performance evaluations. A June report by Office of Legislative Audits found that on average 5,600 were not evaluated at all from fiscal 2012 to 2016, according to the Department of Budget and Management, amounting to 10% to 16% of the executive branch workforce, Meg Tully reports for MarylandReporter. Some agencies evaluated almost all employees, but others, such as Public Safety, evaluated less than 70% of the people who work there.

BABY OYSTERS IN THE SEVERN: Ten million microscopic baby oysters were planted in the Severn River Monday, a main ingredient in efforts to help restore the Chesapeake Bay. They are the first batch of a total of 50 million to be placed in the oyster sanctuary outside Annapolis in the coming weeks. Pat Furgurson of the Annapolis Capital writes that the project is a cooperative effort by the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the Severn River Association, Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources and Horn Point — but also the general public, who donated approximately $27,000 to help the local river group pay for half of the oysters laid on the river bottom Monday.

OFFICIALS DENOUNCE TRUMP MOVE ON HEALTH FACILITIES: Baltimore City’s mayor and health commissioner were joined by the full force of the local congressional delegation Monday in denouncing a move by the Trump administration which takes aim at health centers across the U.S. that perform abortions. In May, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued proposed changes to the Title X Family Planning Program that would prevent funding from going to any health centers that perform abortions or are affiliated with those that do, Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

HOWARD COUNCIL MULLS LOOSER ETHICS RULES: The Howard County Council is considering an update to its ethics laws, including dropping requirements that members from 12 county boards and commissions have to file financial disclosure statements, Kate Magill of the Howard County Times reports.