State Roundup, October 12, 2018

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JUDGE REJECTS EXELON SUIT AGAINST MARYLAND: A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has rejected a lawsuit filed by Conowingo Dam owner Exelon Corp. against the state of Maryland, saying the company was premature in suing environmental regulators over demands that it do more to reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay from the Susquehanna River, reports Scott Dance for the Sun.

STATE TO EXTEND RETIREES DRUG PLAN: After a federal judge ruled that Maryland can’t force state retirees to switch to a federal prescription drug plan during this enrollment period, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that the state would extend its coverage through December 2019, Andrea McDaniels reports in the Sun.

HOW KIRWAN RECOMMENDATIONS COULD FAIL: Recommendations of the Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in education will fail if the same mistakes are made as with Thornton, consultant  Marc Tucker of the National Center on Education and the Economy says in testimony transcribed by MarylandReporter.com.

BILL WOULD PROTECT ELECTION SYSTEMS FROM FOREIGN FOES: Maryland’s two U.S. senators are introducing a measure to prohibit foreign adversaries from owning or controlling companies that support election systems, according to the AP. Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin said Thursday they were introducing the bill, along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine.

HOGAN STAYS ON TOP, BUT WHY? For more than a year — no matter who was doing the public polling — the results have come back the same: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan up by double digits in the Democratic bastion of Maryland. The Sun’s Luke Broadwater reports that no matter what decisions he may be lambasted for, Hogan continues to lead by those double digits and pollsters wonder why.

DEMS SEE BLUE WAVE IN ABSENTEE BALLOT REQUESTS: Despite polls showing their gubernatorial candidate trailing Gov. Larry Hogan by double digits, Maryland Democrats say a surge in absentee ballot requests shows a “blue wave” is coming on Election Day in November, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

NON-VOTERS URGE OTHERS TO VOTE: Jonathan Hernandez and his Casa in Action canvassing team are starting their shift. It’s one of two teams working Howard and Anne Arundel counties. “What we are basically doing is reminding people that there is an election coming up and we are endorsing these candidates,” says Hernandez. Many of the canvassers are not eligible to vote, but they are urging those who can to do so, Dominique Maria Bonessi of WYPR-FM reports.

VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE NEARS: Whether you’re a first-time voter, a new Maryland resident or maybe just a devotee of Taylor Swift’s Instagram account, the deadline to register to vote in Maryland’s November midterm elections is Oct. 16, writes Lillian Reed in the Sun. (Though Marylanders can also register to vote — and vote that same day — during early voting.)

OP-ED: END EARLY VOTING: Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat writes that early voting in Montgomery County begins on Oct. 25, but at least one resident won’t be heading to the polls prior to the Nov. 6 general election. Phil Andrews, a Democrat who represented District 3 on the Montgomery County Council from 1998 to 2014, has argued in a recent Washington Post opinion piece that early voting does a disservice to residents who may risk not being informed by late-breaking news when they cast ballots before Election Day.

COLVIN CAMPAIGNS FOR 1st DISTRICT: Jesse Colvin is approaching his quest to unseat Rep. Andy Harris (R) in Maryland’s solidly red 1st Congressional District the way one might expect a former military intelligence officer to chase an elusive target, Arelis Hernandez writes for the Post. He’s clocked more than 600 miles a week on his truck on reconnaissance missions, getting to the know as many farms, factories and folks as he can in the sprawling district. He’s studied the defeats of Democrats — and one moderate Republican — before him. He’s impressed Maryland power brokers with prolific fundraising and a growing volunteer network.

CORRECTION ON SEGAL: In yesterday’s Roundup, we misspelled the last name of the candidate in the Bread and Roses Party. The correct spelling is Jerome S-e-g-a-l.

DISTRICT 3A STANDS ON RECREATIONAL POT: If the legalization of recreational marijuana comes up in the next General Assembly, the two candidates who are elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in District 3A could be asked to take a stance. Republican candidates Mike Bowersox and James Dvorak and Democratic sitting Dels. Carol Krimm and Karen Lewis Young weighed in on the subject this week, with only one of the four stating a hard opposition, Mallory Panuska reports in the Frederick News -Post.

DEMS CLAIM REDMER TAKING INSURANCE-RELATED BUCKS: The Maryland Democratic Party is criticizing Baltimore County executive candidate Al Redmer Jr., claiming he has accepted insurance-related campaign contributions after pledging not to do so. But Redmer campaign spokeswoman Hannah Marr dismissed the claim as “ridiculous,” reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

LOCAL AFL-CIO BACKS OLSZEWSKI: The union representing Baltimore County government workers is endorsing Democrat Johnny Olszewski Jr. for county executive, writes Pamela Wood for the Sun. The AFL-CIO’s Baltimore Metropolitan Council announced its endorsement Thursday. The union council includes the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees, which represents correctional officers, 911 center workers, office workers and other county employees. It also includes the AFSCME Council 67, which has county employees among its membership.

ROBIN FICKER SPEAKS: Bethesda Beat’s Louis Peck sat down with Robin Ficker, Republican candidate for Montgomery County executive, to discuss the issues that he believes are important to county residents. He says, “I think we need some geographic diversity in the county government, and I certainly give that—because I’m the only one who drives down I-270 every day; I live in Boyds … [Marc Elrich and Nancy Floreen] are alike. The only way they’ve been a little different is in development. They’re two very liberal Democrats, and I’m the only alternative to them in this race … . We need someone who thinks like the general election voters, as I do.”

GROUP OPPOSES RAZING ELLICOTT CITY BUILDINGS: A nonprofit that opposes Howard County’s five-year flood mitigation plan has released a third-party engineering report that implores the county to consider alternatives to razing buildings in flood-prone Ellicott City, Erin Logan reports for the Howard County Times. County Executive Allan Kittleman this week signed legislation to partially fund a $50 million project to remove 13 buildings from the historic downtown to help protect the area from damage caused by major floods.

STATE PUTS HOLD ON ONE RX POT GROWER: Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital reports that state officials have told marijuana dispensaries and processors not to accept products from a Lothian growing facility. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has placed an “administrative hold” on products from ForwardGro. The commission’s executive director cited part of Maryland code that states a possible suspension of product distribution if “an inspector has reasonable suspicion of an operational failure or of conditions that create a likelihood of diversion, contamination, or a risk to the public health.”