State Roundup, August 21, 2018

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DEMS TOUT JEALOUS’ KINDERGARTEN PLAN: Maryland Democrats are touting a plan backed by their gubernatorial hopeful, Ben Jealous, to expand kindergarten to 4-year-olds, using revenue generated by the legalization of marijuana. They say the 2012 referendum legalizing pot in Colorado provides a handy template for the windfall that would occur if Maryland were to follow a similar path, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

GOP CONFIDENT ON HOGAN SUPPORT IN MO CO: In the face of an independent poll last week that showed Gov. Larry Hogan losing Montgomery County to Democratic opponent Ben Jealous by a better than 2-1 margin, county Republican Central Committee Chair Mark Uncapher on Friday said he remains confident that Hogan will do significantly better than that here in November, Louis Peck reports in Bethesda Beat. “I was a little surprised by that number … I do think we’re doing better in Montgomery County,” Uncapher said of the Gonzales Research & Media Services poll that showed ealous leading Hogan by 60% to 25% in the county.

JEALOUS’s MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Len Foxwell, chief of staff for Comptroller Peter Franchot, and MACo President Jerry Walker joined Ryan Miner A Miner Detail Radio Podcast on Monday evening to talk about this year’s annual MACo conference in Ocean City. Miner, Foxwell and Walker discussed the significance of the annual four-day retreat, the mood, the chatter and the gossip. One central theme of the conference was abundantly clear: Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous’s absence was a missed opportunity for him, said Walker.

SEN. YOUNG JOINS DEMONSTRATION: “Tacky” was how Republican elected officials referred to Democratic Sen. Ron Young’s role in a demonstration Monday outside a noontime fundraiser for his Republican opponent, Craig Giangrande featuring Gov. Larry Hogan as the main attraction. Young was near a group of 20 peaceful demonstrators on the sidewalk and roadway holding signs for a number of Democratic candidates, including Hogan’s opponent, Ben Jealous, reports Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.

SAVING PIMLICO: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh said Monday the Preakness was in Baltimore to stay — and when asked how to pay for the $300 million needed to upgrade Pimlico, a state delegate suggested it could be through a special lottery. Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that Del. Sandy Rosenberg said the lottery could fund much of the cost to re-do the historic, 143-year-old race track in Park Heights pending the results of an ongoing study by the Maryland Stadium Authority.

GIVE D.C. BACK TO MARYLAND? While many Washington, D.C., activists and residents have been pushing for statehood for years – as have many Democrats in Congress – a relatively new group claims to have a more feasible solution to the “second-class citizenship” of city residents: the retrocession of D.C. into Maryland. Douglass County, Md., a 501(c)(4) organization, advocates creating a 24th county in Maryland – Douglass County, named after Frederick Douglass – which would only have the city of D.C. in it, Kaanita Iyer of Maryland Matter writes.

ELECTION PROTECTION: Maryland’s U.S. senators asked a Senate committee to support language requiring notice if any state election vendors come under the ownership or control of a foreign national, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports. A letter sent by Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee follows the disclosure in July that a Maryland election software vendor has ties to a Russian investor.

CARSON LOSES IMAGE: Ben Carson’s story of climbing out of poverty to become a world-renowned surgeon was once ubiquitous in Baltimore, where Carson made his name. In some schools his memoir was required reading, an illustration of the power of perseverance. For a working-class, majority African-American city wracked by racial division and neglect, Ben Carson was hope. But his role in the Trump administration has added a complicated epilogue, leaving many who admired him feeling betrayed, Juliet Linderman of the AP reports.

INCINERATOR ORDERED TO CUT POLLUTION: Maryland environmental regulators are demanding that a Baltimore trash incinerator cut its emissions of one harmful air pollutant by about one-fifth and study whether it can clean its exhaust even more aggressively. Scott Dance of the Sun writes that the Wheelabrator Baltimore incinerator, the city’s single largest source of industrial air pollution, would be required to reduce its output of nitrogen oxides by about 200 tons a year under a regulation proposed Friday. The compounds contribute to smog and irritate the respiratory system, increasing the likelihood of lung diseases and stroke.

HICCUPS IN RX POT INDUSTRY: The medical cannabis industry isn’t immune to growing pains. In Maryland, there have been concerns about diversity in the market, as well as about bigger companies controlling licenses to more than one dispensary. In addition, the federal government has given its prosecutors more power to enforce laws in states where medical marijuana is legal. And reaction from physicians has been mixed, Alison Eatough writes in Harford Magazine.

OTIS BACK ON FREDERICK BALLOT: Frederick County Council President Bud Otis will be back on the ballot as he vies for re-election in November. Otis, who is seeking re-election on the council as an unaffiliated candidate, successfully gathered enough signatures to get his name on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election. Otis was required to get 1,794 signatures — or 1% of the electorate — in order to appear the ballot, Allen Etzler of the Frederick News Post reports.

THINK, BEFORE BANNING EPS: The editorial board for the Carroll County Times opines that Carroll County’s Environmental Advisory Council is in the process of putting together a report on expanded polystyrene foam, which is also known as EPS, or by the brand name Styrofoam. The data compiled will be turned over to the Board of County Commissioners in the fall, sans recommendations. Presumably, the commissioners would use the report to consider a possible ban on EPS foam, similar to bans that have been enacted elsewhere in Maryland, such as Montgomery and Prince George’s counties; and in Washington, D.C. But while bans have picked up steam across the country, Carroll’s leaders have a lot to consider.

ARUNDEL’s FAILED CASINO-REVENUE PLAN: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that when revenues started pouring into Anne Arundel County from the Live! casino in Hanover five years ago, county leaders set millions aside annually for police and fire protection. Recent events make it clear the spending hasn’t been effective.

OCEAN CITY OPTS FOR SOLAR FARM: Ocean City plans to break ground Thursday on a solar farm that will generate enough power to run the resort town’s convention center and municipal buildings, reports Scott Dance in the Sun. The project comes as town leaders fight an offshore wind farm they say could disrupt beach views and send tourists elsewhere. The City Council decided in May even free electricity wouldn’t justify the project, rejecting such an offer from developer U.S. Wind in a closed-door session in May.

NEWS OUTLETS SUE OVER DISCLOSURE LAW: News outlets filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging a Maryland law meant to fight foreign meddling in online political advertising because they say it creates unfair burdens on media sites that publish such ads. The challengers argue the law infringes on free speech because it requires them to publish information about political ad buyers. The newspapers also say the law includes onerous requirements for them to make data on ad buyers available to election officials on request, the AP is reporting.