Hogan’s 67% approval rating higher than tops for O’Malley, Ehrlich

Two-thirds of all voters (67%) in a new poll taken last week approve of the job Gov. Larry Hogan is doing and only 19% disapprove, a higher approval rating than ever achieved by either of his two predecessors. Three out of five voters (60%) believe Maryland is headed in the right direction, while 22% say the state is headed on the wrong track, with 18% giving no answer. Linked to full poll results.

Economist advises senators: Spend on infrastructure, education; lower income tax, broaden sales tax

In what has turned into an annual performance to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, the chief economist with Moody’s Analytics said that while Maryland’s economy is performing close to the national average, it needed to do more to grow its performance. Repeating recommendation from a September Moody’s Analytics Report, economist Mark Zandi said Maryland should focus on reducing key taxes and costs, investing in infrastructure, and reducing the perception of business unfriendliness. The economist said Maryland needs to build or maintain businesses that rely on demand from the private sector for growth.

A protest against the Curtis Bay incinerator. Photo by Chesapeake Climate

Gov. Hogan takes ‘no position’ on Curtis Bay incinerator

Asked about the long-smoldering fight over a 160-megawatt trash incinerator proposed in south Baltimore, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a forum Wednesday that he has “no position on it because I don’t have the facts.” The woman who asked the question found Hogan's reply “infuriating,” even though he promised to have his staff meet with her and the group opposing the incinerator. “We've been fighting this proposal for four years,” she said. But Hogan's environment secretary knew a lot about the project.

Rascovar: Hold off on Internet hotel tax

Among the most controversial bills the legislature will consider next week is a vetoed bill concerning a dispute between large hotel operators, like Bethesda-based Marriott and Rockville-based Choice Hotels, and Internet travel companies. The fight is over tax payments to the state by those Internet companies when they book in-state hotel rooms. Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr. vetoed this bill for the most sensible of reasons: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot already is suing an Internet company, Travelocity, over what he claims is $6 million in unpaid taxes on those service fees between 2003 and 2011.

Gov. Larry Hogan announces tax cut proposals. Photo from the Governor's Office.

Hogan ‘can’t imagine how anyone could vote against’ proposed tax cuts

Tax cuts plans Gov. Larry Hogan offered Tuesday were so modest and mainstream that the worst a Democratic Party spokesman could say about them was that two copied proposals by Democrats and Hogan didn't say how he would pay for them. The $480 million in tax relief spread out over five years targets tax breaks for new manufacturing, businesses, retirees, and families making less than $53,000.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh. Photo by Fort Meade with Flickr Creative Commons License.

Anne Arundel executive plans to maintain fast pace of change

Steve Schuh was gung ho when he took office as Anne Arundel County executive 13 months ago, and he thinks he’s made a good start implementing his campaign promises and transforming county government. In an interview in his Annapolis office last month, he said he’s not planning to slow the pace of change. Two major consultant reports are due out soon. One will call for a major revamping of land use, licensing and permits and the other will recommend overhauling the procurement process that Schuh describes as “notoriously inefficient” and “wasteful.”

Gov. Larry Hogan with staff and patients at Greenebaum Cancer Center. Dr. Kevin Cullen is at far right. From Larry Hogan's Facebook page

Tobacco settlement aids cancer research, diagnosis and treatment

In 2015, Maryland spent 33% of its allocated cancer prevention and treatment money at the University of Maryland Medical Center, where Gov. Larry Hogan was treated, and Johns Hopkins University, according to the Cigarette Restitution Fund, a division of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Current restitution funding has provided benefits for both cancer prevention and tobacco-use prevention in the state, and cancer rates are dropping.