State Roundup, September 18, 2018

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HOGAN RETAINS HIGH APPROVALS; JEALOUS PLANS SUPPORTED: Headed into the home stretch of the election, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan retains a 64% approval rating among voters in deep blue Maryland, potentially blunting hopes for a “blue wave” in the state come November. But the poll also revealed widespread support for policies that are part of the campaign platform for Democratic challenger Ben Jealous: a $15 minimum wage was supported by 71% polled, 62% said they supported legalization of marijuana, and 54% said they hold a favorable view of Medicare-for-All programs, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.

JEALOUS OFFERS DRUG AFFORDABILITY PLAN: Flanked by Maryland residents who’ve seen their prescription drug prices spike in recent years, gubernatorial hopeful Ben Jealous (D) on Monday released a drug affordability plan to increase competition and reduce costs to consumers, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. “Marylanders desperately need relief from sky-rocketing prescription drug costs,” he said. “From the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland, Marylanders live in terror caused by skyrocketing pharmaceutical costs.”

  • Called a “New Rx For Maryland,” Jealous’ plan proposes creating a prescription drug affordability board to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for rising costs and “ensure Marylanders are not subject to sharp increases.” The Sun’s Luke Broadwater writes that his plan also calls for driving down costs by allowing reimportation of prescription drugs, so that Marylanders can access prescriptions at cheaper rates from Canada, and instituting a drug spending cap for Medicaid, which the Jealous campaign says helped New York achieve $958 million in savings last year.

JEALOUS’ TV CAMPAIGN: Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports on Ben Jealous’ late entry into the TV campaign. With about seven weeks to go before Election Day, Jealous begins airing his first ad of the general election on Monday. The ad is playing on all four broadcast stations in the Baltimore market.

HERALD MAIL REPORTER CUT FROM DEBATE: Herald-Mail Media plans to send a panelist to next week’s gubernatorial debate, despite having its veteran State House reporter rejected Monday. The campaigns of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and his Democratic challenger, Ben Jealous, announced this month that they agreed to a single one-hour debate on Sept. 24, to be hosted by Maryland Public Television. Both sides agreed that they could veto any of the representatives from the news outlets. On Monday, Tom Williams, managing director of communications for MPT, told Herald-Mail Media that its representative at the debate, State House reporter Tamela Baker, was vetoed, apparently by the Jealous camp, Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.

MARYLAND SUES EPA: Maryland plans to take the Trump administration to federal appeals court now that the Environmental Protection Agency has rejected the state’s demands that it do more to limit coal power plant emissions in upwind states. The EPA on Friday finalized a decision it had proposed in May denying a Maryland petition under a section of the federal Clean Air Act known as the “good neighbor” provision, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.

STDs GROW IN MARYLAND: The number of people with sexually transmitted diseases in Maryland is growing rapidly and many might not even know they are infected, fueling the spread. The rise in STDs is happening across the state and not just in trouble spots such as Baltimore, which has a history of high rates. The spread of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are of particular concern to public health officials and doctors, who say they are treating many more cases, Andrea McDaniels reports for the Sun.

MATHIAS OUT-RAISES CAROZZA: Sen. Jim Mathias has raised almost twice as much money as his Republican challenger, Del. Mary Beth Carozza, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Mathias had raised $352,521 so far as of the Aug. 28 Maryland filing deadline, while Carozza had $184,808, Liz Holland reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. “Campaigns are all about messaging,” Mathias said, and getting the word out costs a lot of money.

SARBANES’ RISING STAR: As Democrats push to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November, government ethics and political reform have become an increasingly important part of their message. And that means an elevated role for Maryland U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D). He is the House Democrats’ apostle of political reform, the chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force. If the Democrats seize the majority, he will play a leading role in shaping the suite of reform bills that Democrats will try to advance through Congress, Josh Kurtz writes in Maryland Matters.

SCHUH LOOKS FOR ETHICS UPDATES: It was another full Anne Arundel County Council meeting Monday night as members debated proposed changes to the county’s ethics laws, legislation that would benefit a medical marijuana business in Annapolis and were warned “blood” is on some of their hands after voting against an abortion resolution at the last meeting, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports. The ethics proposal — introduced by County Executive Steve Schuh — also updates the county’s ethics laws to correspond with state changes.

FREDERICK BUSINESSES AGAINST LIQUOR LICENSE PROPOSAL: More than a dozen local business owners are speaking out against legislation proposed by the Frederick County liquor board that would allow licensing supermarkets to sell beer and wine, Cameron Dodd reports for the Frederick News Post. Local alcohol store owners told the Board of Licensing Commissioners on Monday that allowing grocery stores to sell beer and wine would signal the end of their businesses.

MO CO WELCOMES PARCC PHASE-OUT: Dan Shere of Bethesda Beat reports that as Maryland prepares to phase out its latest statewide standardized test, teachers, parents and other stakeholders in Montgomery County public schools say it’s a welcome change. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced earlier this month the Partnership for the Assessment of College and Career Readiness, tests would no longer be given, starting in the 2020-2021 school year. The state is currently seeking bids for a new test that is less time consuming, according to the Sun.