State Roundup, October 1, 2018

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JEALOUS PROMISES ALL-DEM DELEGATION: Ben Jealous, the Democratic candidate for Maryland governor, has pledged to deliver an all-Democratic congressional delegation if he’s elected, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. At the Baltimore County Democratic Party Unity Dinner in Timonium on Thursday, Jealous warned his fellow Democrats that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan would work to place more Republicans in Congress.

LAWS GO INTO EFFECT TODAY: Scores of laws passed during this year’s General Assembly session go into effect today, including measures to: Ban spoofing phone calls; Stop the distribution of electronic cigarettes to minors; Create a new extreme risk protective order (red flag) that will take guns away from alleged abusers and shrink the period required for driving learner’s permits from nine months to three, Meg Tully reports for MarylandReporter.

  • Erin Cox and Peter Jamison of the Post report that new gun laws — passed in the wake of two mass shootings at high schools this year and the massacre at a Las Vegas concert last year — are designed to limit access to firearms and certain accessories. They also might have cost Gov. Larry Hogan (R) his high ranking with the National Rifle Association.
  • Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that using threats of shame or economic harm to coerce a person into having sex will become explicitly illegal in Maryland under one of the hundreds of new laws that take effect today in the state. While officially gender-neutral, the bill is one of many the General Assembly passed this year with a focus on protecting or otherwise enhancing the quality of life of women. They address a variety of concerns — including sexual assault, workplace harassment and the rights of female prisoners.

HOGAN’s ANTI-TRUMPISM DOESN’T BOTHER TRUMP FANS: On the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland — red parts of a deep-blue state — Gov. Larry Hogan has retained the enthusiastic support of the GOP base. Robert McCartney of the Post reports that that loyalty has freed the governor to champion centrist proposals and positions. Hogan’s repeated attempts to distance himself from Trump, meanwhile, appear to have inoculated him from Democratic attempts to link him to the president, with 60% of Maryland voters in a recent Goucher Poll saying their opinions of Trump will have little to no effect on their gubernatorial vote.

HOW FAR WILL ‘DRIVE FOR FIVE’ GO? In a commentary for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz writes that the “Drive for Five” runs through Hogan Country. But whether Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. (R) and his fellow Republicans reach their final destination is dependent on countless political variables in the final weeks of this confounding election cycle. Republicans are hoping to flip five state Senate seats in November, denying Democrats a veto-proof majority for the next four years and strengthening the governor’s political hand measurably if he wins a second term. Democratic strategists concede that they’re likely to lose at least a seat or two.

JUDGE TO RULE ON APPLE IMAGE: A Montgomery County judge will rule today on a preliminary injunction aimed to stop Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign from using certain apple imagery in his reelection bid, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.

  • Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael Mason said he would take the weekend to consider arguments made by lawyers representing the Maryland State Education Association and the governor’s campaign. The association — which represents 75,000 teachers statewide, filed suit more than a week ago, alleging Hogan’s use of an apple logo coupled with the phrase “teachers for” violates a trademark they registered in 2009, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. “This is clearly an attempt to confuse the public,” said Kristy Anderson, attorney for the teacher’s union.

YOUNG, DEM WOMEN ON BALLOT: In this election year, there’s been a surge nationally of mostly young Democratic women running for office. And that surge is swamping ballots in Maryland as well, reports Karen Hosler for WYPR-FM. In one race, a 30-year-old woman—a Democrat—is pitted against a 65-year-old former Republican member of the House of Delegates for the state Senate seat representing Annapolis.

SPEAKER BUSCH IN PHYSICAL THERAPY: House Speaker Michael Busch expects to return home today, 10 days after he had unscheduled bypass surgery, reports Rick Hutzell of the Annapolis Capital. In an interview Friday afternoon, the Annapolis Democrat said he has been undergoing physical therapy at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore to rebuild his strength. He expects to make campaign and other public appearances again soon.

MOON GETS UNLIKELY BOOST: Del. David Moon of Takoma Park, one of the most outspokenly liberal members of Montgomery County’s all-Democratic delegation in Annapolis, this week got an endorsement as the next Maryland House speaker from an unlikely source: Robin Ficker, the Republican candidate for county executive. Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat is reporting.

MO CO WON’T PROBE KAVANAUGH WITHOUT COMPLAINT: Montgomery County law enforcement officials reiterated Friday their position that they will not investigate allegations of a decades-old sexual assault by U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett J. Kavanaugh unless the alleged victim files a complaint, Glynis Kazanjian reports in Bethesda Beat.

MARYLAND SENATORS BACK FBI PROBE: Maryland’s U.S. senators support a new FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and question whether Kavanaugh could be an impartial justice. Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen had previously said the Senate needed a full accounting of the allegation before a final vote. President Trump on Friday ordered an FBI investigation “to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” but limited the probe to less than one week, Jeff Barker reports for the Sun.

HELP LINES HEAT UP: Christina Tkacik and Lillian Reed of the Sun reports that as the Senate Judiciary Committee interviewed first Christine Blasey Ford and then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whom she accuses of sexual assault, calls started pouring in to TurnAround. In fact, the Baltimore organization, which helps survivors of sexual violence, received roughly double its usual volume of calls Thursday and a continued spike Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the organization, though she declined to provide an exact figure.

SCHUH & PITTMAN ON THE ENVIRONMENT: A little over a month remains until Election Day, and candidates for county executive in Anne Arundel County have been busy explaining who they are to voters. To help voters decide, Rachael Pacella of the Annapolis Capital takes a look at one topic — environmental policy — in search of a clear idea of what separates incumbent Republican Steve Schuh and his challenger, Democrat Steuart Pittman.

PITTMAN MAKES HIS CASE: Steuart Pittman, Steve Schuh’s Democratic rival for Arundel County executive, in his column for the Annapolis Capital, writes, “Having hosted 10 community forums in recent weeks, I can say without reservation that residents are frustrated. They want a voice. … while other local governments are getting on the open government bandwagon, our county executive is opposing good legislation that promotes transparency and engages citizens.”

SCHUH TOUTS HIS RECORD: Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, in advocating for his re-election, cites his record on public safety and kicks off his column in the Annapolis Capital with “Four years ago, our county was facing a public safety crisis. Our police academy was falling apart, and our police officers and sheriff’s deputies were hopelessly tied up doing paperwork on arrests instead of out on the streets keeping our families safe.”

KAMENETZ PORTRAIT HUNG: Kevin Kamenetz loved his job as Baltimore County executive so much, and worked such long hours, said his widow, Jill, that all his office was missing was a “Home, Sweet Home” sign. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that as such it is fitting, she said, that her late husband’s portrait now hangs in the Historic Courthouse in Towson, positioned at the end of a long line of Baltimore County executives.

MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH CITY SCHOOL BUILDINGS: Baltimore City public schools face aging roofs, rusted pipes, cracking steps and broken elevators — all piling up to a massive maintenance backlog that has swollen to nearly $3 billion. That’s more than double the district’s annual operating budget, reports Talia Richman for the Sun.

HO CO EXCELS AT PHASED-OUT PARCC TESTS: Howard County schools, which maintained a top performing status on the annual rigorous statewide math and English assessments, will soon tackle a new test. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test, known as PARCC, has been criticized as too disruptive and too time-consuming to the school schedule, will be phased out statewide at the end of the current school year, Jesse Nocera of the Howard County Times reports.

METRO GM GETS LARGE RAISE: The general manager of Washington’s troubled Metro system has received a nearly 10% raise, over objections from agency workers, the AP is reporting. News outlets report the Metro Board voted 7-1 Thursday to increase Paul J. Wiedefeld’s salary by $37,500 and extend his contract to 2021. Although Wiedefeld hasn’t received a raise or bonus since starting in November 2015, his new annual salary of $435,000 makes him one of the country’s highest-paid public transit chiefs.

THE O’s HAVE IT: Matthew Rozsa and Benjamin Wheelock of Salon kick of a series called That’s the Ticket about what pairs of candidates could beat President Trump and Vice President Pence in 2020. Why do we care? They start the series with Beto O’Rourke and our very own former Gov. Martin O’Malley. We’re not quite sure who is supposed to be at the top of the ticket, however.