State Roundup, November 21, 2018

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PAY HIKE OKd FOR SOME STATE WORKERS: Nearly 5,000 professional employees working across state government agencies are set to receive a 3% pay raise next year under a new contract announced Tuesday by the Hogan administration. Members of the Maryland Professional Employees Council still have to ratify the deal with secret ballots at their Dec. 8 meeting as Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration faces tough negotiations with AFSCME, state government’s largest union, Doug Donovan reports in the Sun.

OYSTER POPULATION SUFFERS: The Chesapeake Bay’s market-sized oyster population is about 300 million — or half the amount found in 1999 — according to a much-anticipated report presented to the state’s Oyster Advisory Commission Monday night, Rachael Pacella of the Annapolis Capital reports.

LAWMAKERS TOUT HEALTH MANDATE: Maryland lawmakers plan to introduce legislation again next year that would create a state-level individual mandate, a potential long-term fix for Maryland’s individual insurance market, Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports. Under the proposal, funds raised by the individual mandate, a tax on people without health insurance, would be used to help people purchase health insurance, reduce premiums and pay for administrative costs.

WHAT MARYLAND OFFERED FOR HQ2: The details of Maryland’s bid to acquire Amazon’s HQ2 were released Tuesday afternoon by the Maryland Department of Commerce in response to a state Public Information Act request by the Baltimore Business Journal. Staff reporter Melody Simmons writes that Maryland’s package included $2.8 billion in refundable state income tax credits spread out over 10 years and $2.4 billion in new transportation funding. The total incentive package was $5.84 billion and set a state record.

FAITH GROUPS DECRY KKK FLYERS: While anti-Jewish and anti-immigrant flyers touting the KKK have been popping up around Maryland, local faith groups are decrying the messages, writes Jean Marbella for the Sun. “I do think there are certain parts of the country that are nationalistic and anti-immigrant,” said Beth Millstein, president of the Jewish Federation of Howard County. “That is not Maryland. That is not Howard County.”

HOGAN TAPS FADER TO HEAD SPECIAL APPEALS COURT: Gov. Larry Hogan has elevated Court of Special Appeals Judge Matthew J. Fader to head Maryland’s second-highest court, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports. Fader, 45, will succeed Court of Special Appeals Chief Judge Patrick L. Woodward, who reaches the state’s mandatory judicial retirement age of 70 on Nov. 28.

WA CO TOPS IN POOR HEALTH OUTCOMES: Compared with the rest of the state, Washington County has higher rates of obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and teen births, reports Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. The number one cause of death in the county is heart disease, and Washington County has the sixth highest rate of deaths from heart disease in the state.

MINNICK AIDE CHARGED WITH THEFT: A Glen Burnie school principal stole about $13,000 in campaign funds from a dead Baltimore County delegate, according to state prosecutors. Phil Davis of the Annapolis Capital writes that, in a release Tuesday, the Office of the State Prosecutor said that Ronald Chesek, 59, of Severna Park, has been charged with stealing between $10,000 and $100,000 from the campaign fund of former Del. Joseph J. “Sonny” Minnick, who died in October 2015.

McCONKEY RECOUNT UNLIKELY: Republican officials don’t think a recount is likely after a Democrat surprised everyone by defeating a GOP incumbent in District 33 by 185 votes, breaking a 20-year hold on the conservative district, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital. Maryland GOP executive director Dirk Haire said a recount is not likely between Democrat Heather Bagnall and incumbent Republican Tony McConkey. Bagnall’s upset defeat surprised political operatives despite McConkey’s sordid history.

RIDDICK RETURNS TO PG GOVT: Major F. Riddick Jr. is returning to Prince George’s County government – at least temporarily, writes Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters. Riddick, who served as the county government’s chief administration officer and in other roles under then-County Executive Parris N. Glendening (and later became Glendening’s chief of staff when Glendening was governor), will reprise the role in the early administration of incoming County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D).

PITTMAN TAPS TRANSITION CHAIRS: Anne Arundel County Executive-elect Steuart Pittman on Tuesday announced his transition committee chairs and new advisers that include two councilman and a local historian, Chase Cook reports for the Annapolis Capital. Pittman formed seven committees and named chairs for each. Those committees, all tied to communities, are called Safe, Healthy, Thriving, Empowered, Sustainable and Educated communities. The last committee is called Responsive Government.

FLOREEN FUNDING STAYED STRONG: Nancy Floreen’s unsuccessful independent bid to become the next Montgomery County executive garnered strong financial backing right up until the finish line. The outgoing four-term member of the County Council raised more than $91,000 between Oct. 22 and the election according to her post-general election report that was submitted Tuesday to the Maryland State Board of Elections, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports.