State Roundup, October 12, 2017

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OPENING UP PRE-K: Jess Feldman of CNS reports that the state’s income threshold for families to qualify for free pre-kindergarten should be increased by more than 60%, a state workgroup told a legislative panel Tuesday. The Joint Committee on Children, Youth and Families, weighing universal schooling for 4-year-olds acknowledged the need for an increase in funding for the early education program statewide. Maryland’s Kirwan Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education has also tentatively agreed to recommend universal pre-K. The article appears in MarylandReporter.

POLL: BETTER SICK LEAVE: Three-quarters of Maryland voters want employers to provide robust paid sick leave benefits to their workers, according to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted for advocacy groups. Specifically, 74% of survey respondents supported requiring companies with at least 15 employees to provide five days of paid sick leave each year to full-time employees. A bill that emerged from the legislature this year would have accomplished just that, but was vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan, Josh Kurtz writes for Maryland Matters.

MO CO WON’T PAY FOR WAGE HIKE IMPACT STUDY: Montgomery County will not pay $149,000 to a Philadelphia-based consulting and research company for a now discredited study on the local economic impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, Andrew Metcalf is reporting in Bethesda Beat. Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for County Executive Ike Leggett, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat Tuesday, “We are not paying the bill.”

FROSH WEIGHS IN ON STATE GUN LAW: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a decision upholding the constitutionality of the state’s ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, the AP is reporting. Frosh argued in court papers filed with the high court Tuesday that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was correct when it ruled in February that the 2013 Maryland Firearm Safety Act does not violate the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms.

RX POT LICENSE CHALLENGE CONTINUES: Erin Cox is reporting in the Sun that a Baltimore judge ruled Wednesday that a case that could disrupt Maryland’s fledgling medical marijuana industry should proceed to trial. Circuit Judge Barry Williams said a trial should determine whether state regulators acted outside the law when they chose which companies won lucrative licenses to grow the drug. If the court finds that the licenses were awarded improperly, he said, it has the power to order the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to remedy the situation.

ABANDON FAILED CRIME FIGHTING POLICIES: In a Sun op-ed, Jeremy Kittredge and Keith Wallington of the Justice Policy Institute urge Gov. Larry Hogan not to return to the failed policies of crime fighting that only led to unsafer communities and more young African American males being incarcerated. In response to the violence in Baltimore, they writes, Hogan and some other Maryland elected officials have called for more mandatory minimums and longer prison sentences. Unfortunately, they seem to be taking a play directly from Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ playbook of the failed strategies from the 1990s, which did little to improve public safety and instead created the mass incarceration challenges we see today.

SENSIBLE SCHOOL CALENDARS: The editorial board of the Howard County Times lauds Howard County public schools for its sensible approach to setting its school calendar, writing that Howard County is not alone in struggling to align its school calendar for the next year with the governor’s mandate to start classes after Labor Day and end the year before mid-June, an exercise aptly described as “always a puzzle.” But unlike other large districts in the state, the county’s proposals for 2018-2019 are largely sensible and don’t take away religious holidays that have been promised, an issue that is becoming a flash point in neighboring Baltimore and Montgomery counties.

BLOWBACK OVER JEWISH HOLIDAYS: The Baltimore County School Board is considering a proposal to keep schools open during the Jewish holidays next September. But the board got some blowback for that idea during a public hearing Tuesday night. WYPR’s John Lee and Nathan Sterner talk about it on Morning Edition.

SIERRA CLUB EARLY ENDOSEMENTS: The Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club announced  “early endorsements” of 52 incumbent state senators and delegates based on their environmental records. The list includes no Republicans, but most of the Democratic leadership of the House of Delegates. “These Sierra Club endorsed candidates have demonstrated strong leadership in promoting clean air, clean water, and cleaner energy for a healthier Maryland,” said Josh Tulkin, director of the Maryland Sierra Club. (MarylandReporter.com)

HOGAN & THE TRUMP EFFECT: As the state gets closer to the 2018 election, observers are watching to see how President Donald Trump will affect the re-election effort of Gov. Larry Hogan. Typically, a midterm election tends to hurt the party of the president. Observers in Maryland last year said Trump’s victory could work against Gov. Larry Hogan, a fellow Republican. But, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record, Trump’s path to the White House and his first 10 months in office have been anything but typical, and some say that far from being harmed Hogan actually could benefit.

ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS TO RUN FOR GOV: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings might lack name recognition, political experience and money as she jumps into the crowded Democratic race for governor. But one thing she has in abundance is confidence. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that the 46-year-old consulting firm owner, who plans to announce her candidacy today via a web video, said she has the experience required to take the reins of state government from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

  • Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes that Rockeymoore Cummings is not widely known in Maryland political circles apart from her husband, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cumming. She holds a doctorate in political science from Purdue University and has more than two decades of experience working in the public and private sectors, including as chief of staff to New York congressman Charles B. Rangel (D), senior resident scholar for health and income security at the National Urban League and vice president of research and programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

SEIU TO ENDORSE JEALOUS: Service Employees International United, a labor union with 45,000 members in Maryland, will support former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous in the Democratic primary race for governor. SEIU leaders plan to formally endorse Jealous during an event today, according to his campaign, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

APPEALS JUDGE NOW CITY SOLICITOR: Former 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Andre Davis left the bench to become Baltimore City solicitor. Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes about Davis and his long career in law and serving Baltimore City and his difficult decision to leave the bench at Mayor Catherine Pugh’s requests.

MIZEUR’s NEW VENTURE: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes about former gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur’s new venture: MizMaryland /Soul Force Politics. “I have always had a very strong desire to change politics as usual,” she said. “This new organization is really just an outgrowth of my signature political creed – ‘be for something, not against someone.’”

MO CO CANDIDATES LIST: Here’s MarylandReporter’s updated list of candidates for local, state and federal office in Montgomery County as best as we could determine as of Oct. 11, 2017.