State Roundup, November 30, 2017

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BATTLE OVER SICK LEAVE: Maryland’s debate over paid sick leave has devolved into a series of accusations and counteraccusations between Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Democratic legislative leaders, Josh Hicks of the Post reports. When Hogan unveiled his latest sick-leave proposal at a Tuesday news conference, he devoted much of his time to criticizing the legislature for the sick-leave bill it passed early this year. He also accused top Democrats of spurning invitations to negotiate a compromise plan. Democratic leaders, in turn, issued a lengthy statement on Wednesday saying the governor’s claims of outreach were false.

PG HOSPITAL GROUNDBREAKING: Arelis R. Hernández of the Post reports that the University of Maryland Medical System will break ground today on a long-awaited regional medical center in Prince George’s County. The $543 million project waited years for approval from the state’s health-care commission, in part because of concerns the hospital was too large, too expensive and unsustainable in a rapidly changing health care market. Both the state and county are contributing more than $400 million to construct the 205-bed facility in Largo, which was cleared for construction 13 months ago.

METRO REPORT: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that the report on Metro he commissioned from former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be officially released Tuesday. Robert McCartney of the Post reports that his publication obtained and published the study this month, but the formal rollout will include supporting documents explaining why LaHood believes his proposal to replace the Metro board with a smaller “reform board” is legally possible without amending the Metro Compact. The compact spells out how the agency is governed and financed. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) supports the reform board in principle but has said it would require amending the compact, a lengthy and burdensome process.

HIKE & BIKE GRANTS: The Frederick News-Post is reporting that Maryland’s transportation secretary has announced $20.3 million in grants to fund safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians across the state. Three state and federal programs will provide grants for 43 projects

FRANCHOT’s MISQUIDED FOCUS: In an op-ed for the Sun, Raimee Eck of the Maryland Public Health Association writes that with barely half of Maryland adults (55%) reporting consuming alcohol in the past 30 days, Comptroller Peter Franchot’s focus on increasing alcohol production, sales and consumption without review of the health consequences and costs is misguided.

MARYLAND AS RUSSIA’s ‘DRY RUN?’ John Fritze of the Sun reports on the Russians’ Facebook attack on Maryland following the 2015 riots in Baltimore. The simple advertisement betrayed little about its intent or origin. It pictured Freddie Gray and two other African Americans who died in encounters with police alongside the words “never forget.” Analysts say the ad — and hundreds more aimed by Russia at Facebook users in Maryland following the Baltimore riots of 2015 — might have been a dry run for the broader, national social media campaign that followed in the presidential election campaign months later.

AA SCHOOLS LEGISLATIVE LIST: When addressing the Anne Arundel County State House delegation Tuesday night, Board of Education President Julie Hummer listed expanding pre-kindergarten, maintaining construction funding, exempting substitute teachers from sick leave legislation and school calendar flexibility as priorities for the system during the 2018 legislative session in Annapolis, Rachael Pacella of the Annapolis Capital writes. Hummer and schools Superintendent George Arlotto attended the delegation meeting along with officials from the City of Annapolis, ARC of the Chesapeake and others, to lay out their legislative priorities.

THE JEALOUS-TURNBULL TICKET: A gubernatorial ticket in Maryland is also a marriage of convenience, political calculations and shared ambitions, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. He goes on to list some “fun facts: about the newly formed ticket of Ben Jealous and Susan Turnbull, including: It unites the Hillary and Bernie wings of the Democratic Party. The dissension between the two wings hasn’t been as pronounced in Maryland as it has been elsewhere, but unity is unity, and never a bad thing from a campaign’s point of view.

2 TAPPED FOR JUDGESHIPS: Gov. Larry Hogan appointed an assistant attorney general and a family magistrate to fill two vacancies on the Prince George’s County Circuit Court bench, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record writes. Peter K. Killough has been with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General since 2009 and Judy Lynn Woodall has been a magistrate with the court since 2002.

BUCKLEY AIDE TO JOIN AA EXEC CAMP: The man who ran Gavin Buckley’s grassroots, resident-focused campaign for mayor in Annapolis will be taking his skills to the Anne Arundel County executive’s race, reports Danielle Ohl for the Annapolis Capital. Scott Travers, an experienced field organizer who managed Buckley’s successful campaign, will join Steuart Pittman’s 2018 campaign to challenge County Executive Steve Schuh. Pittman is the only Democrat to announce his candidacy but has not yet filed. Schuh announced his campaign several months ago.

Jessica Haire

HAIRE RUNS FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNCIL: Jessica Haire, wife of Maryland Republican Party Chair Dirk Haire, Wednesday night announced her run for County Council District 7, the large South County area currently represented by County Councilmember Jerry Walker. She was endorsed by County Executive Steve Schuh, who said “we’d like to have a woman’s perspective on our county council.” With the updating of the General Development Plan, followed by comprehensive rezoning, “we need somebody special on the council,” Schuh said, citing Jessica Haire’s background as a lawyer with a civil engineering degree. “I truly believe in limited government,” said Haire. She said she had three main goals: reducing property taxes by 3%, a goal Schuh shares; more accountability for education funding by the newly elected school board; and better police protection in District 7. MarylandReporter.com

NEW MO CO GOP CHAIR: Mark Uncapher was narrowly elected Tuesday night to a second stint as chair of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, a post he held from 2008 to 2013, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat. Uncapher, who launched his campaign for the job this month, won by a 24-22 vote. He ousted the incumbent, Dick Jurgena in a battle Uncapher said was about organizational shortcomings in the county party. But others characterized it as being fueled in large measure by personality conflicts, along with some divisions between older and newer factions.

CUMMINGS SEEKS TOP FBI PROBE: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings pressed the director of the FBI on Wednesday to make the investigation into slain Baltimore homicide detective Sean Suiter “a top priority” and called on the federal agency to “do everything” in its power to help, John Fritze reports in the Sun. Cummings and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus held a closed-door meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss concerns with an unrelated Aug. 3 report from the bureau that warned of a threat posed by “black identity extremists.”