State Roundup, September 11, 2018

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MARYLAND DROPPING PARCC TESTS: Maryland officials are dropping the state’s standardized test — known by parents, teachers and students as simply PARCC — in favor of something shorter and they hope more popular, Liz Bowie reports in the Sun. Maryland is one of just a handful of states still giving the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests, once used in dozens of states, but criticized as too time-consuming and too disruptive to the school schedule. It’s also difficult — less than half of Maryland students can pass it.

GROUPS ASKS STATE TO HALT BWI EXPANSION: A community group has petitioned the Maryland Aviation Administration to halt expansions at BWI Marshall Airport until the Federal Aviation Administration reduces noise from low-flying planes, Christina Tkacik of the Sun reports. Earlier this summer, Maryland officials approved a $60 million renovation and expansion project at the airport, over the objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot and residents who live near the airport.

HOGAN DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY: Hurricane Florence is threatening to strike the East Coast on Thursday as a Category 5 hurricane, prompting evacuations in the Carolinas and an emergency declaration in Maryland ahead of potentially “historic” flooding, Scott Dance of the Sun reports. “At this time there’s still some uncertainty about the track of the storm and its potential impact,” said Gov. Larry Hogan as he announced a state of emergency Monday afternoon. “But we are preparing for the potential of historic, catastrophic and life-threatening flooding.”

TRONE TO UNDERGO SURGERY: A day before undergoing surgery for cancer, David Trone, the Potomac Democrat seeking to succeed Rep. John Delaney, said Monday that he would resume campaigning after recuperating for two weeks and brushed aside questions about whether his health would undermine his quest for the House seat, Paul Schwartzman of the Sun reports.

EDITOR’s NOTE: A Red Maryland item referenced in yesterday’s State Roundup concerning speculation that David Trone would drop out of the race for Congress has elicited this response from Trone campaign manager Jerid Kurtz: “It’s incredibly offensive that Amie Hoeber’s Republican attack dogs are playing politics with news about David Trone’s health, and we call on Hoeber to demand they immediately stop. David is committed to doing everything he can for the people of the 6th District, his prognosis is excellent, and he’s fully committed to this race. Like Governor Hogan, David is prepared to handle the duties of elected office, and any suggestion otherwise is a lie.”

STILL NO COMMERCIAL AIRTIME FOR JEALOUS: As expensive ads in favor of Republican incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan went out on Maryland television channels this month, his Democratic challenger, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, has yet to respond with his own TV spots, CNS’s Brooks DuBose reports in MarylandReporter.

ONE DEBATE ISN’T ENOUGH: The editorial board of the Sun decries the fact that Gov. Larry Hogan and his rival Ben Jealous decided to hold only one televised debate before the campaign. “A single, 60-minute debate between Messrs. Hogan and Jealous isn’t enough for Maryland voters to get the full measure of these two candidates. Based on the format the campaigns agreed to, we’ll be lucky if we get to hear each candidate’s answer to 10 different questions.”

JEALOUS TRIES TO GO NATIONAL: When President Trump attacked Ben Jealous at a rally in Montana last week – though not by name – it was an unexpected gift to the Democratic gubernatorial nominee of Maryland. On Thursday, Jealous is expected to get another opportunity to try to nationalize his campaign, when he is slated to appear on the same stage as two other young, progressive African-American nominees for governor, Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams and Tallahassee, Fla., Mayor Andrew Gillum, at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation annual legislative conference in Washington, D.C., Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes.

POLITICAL FOOTBALL: The Sun editorial board opines that the ironies of President Donald Trump’s dig at Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous’ promise to provide free community college for undocumented immigrants are thick. Mr. Jealous was over the moon at being singled out for criticism by a president whose disapproval ratings in Maryland rival those of sea lice. Gov. Larry Hogan, the Republican incumbent who was probably wondering what he could do to get criticized by the president, was quick to point out that he has already signed legislation that would provide free community college tuition to some undocumented immigrants, and that he wants to go further and let them transfer to a four-year school for free, too. As a political issue, this one works for all parties involved.

LOBBY FIRM SHAKEUP COULD LEAD TO LAWSUITS: One week after a handful of government relations professionals abruptly left a leading Annapolis lobbying firm – an unusual mass departure shrouded in mystery – they announced Monday that they are hanging their own shingle. The venerable lobbying firm countered by hiring a new director of its government relations practice. But mystery continues to surround the professional fate of the firm’s previous government relations director – who happens to be married to the lead partner of the new lobbying shop, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports.

HO CO EXEC FORUM SET: A forum for Howard County executive candidates and also for those running for County Council Districts 4 and 5 will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 in Highland, according to the Sun.

CITY CONSIDERS $1M IN ATTORNEYS FEES: Baltimore’s Board of Estimates on Wednesday will consider a recommendation that the city pay more than $1 million in attorney’s fees to a Christian-based health organization that successfully challenged an ordinance that required pregnancy centers opposed to abortion and artificial birth control to notify patients the facilities do not offer services for terminating or preventing pregnancies, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.