State Roundup, May 9, 2019

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MD VOTERS BACK TRUMP OVER HOGAN: If Gov. Larry Hogan mounted a primary challenge against President Trump, Republican voters in his home state would back the president by a more than 2-to-1 margin, a new poll has found, writes Erin Cox in the Post. Hogan remains just as popular as Trump among Maryland Republicans, according to a survey released Thursday by Gonzales Research & Media Services, but that popularity does not translate to support for a primary campaign.

HOW POPULAR IS COMPTROLLER FRANCHOT?: Very popular, he’s happy to tell you based on polling by Gonzales Research & Media Strategies his campaign paid for. Here is a summary of the results by his campaign manager. One surprise — 25% of voters did not recognize the name of Peter Franchot, the top vote-getter in the last election beginning his fourth term as comptroller.

  • The latest Gonzales Research and Media Services survey numbers show that Franchot’s sky-high approval ratings puncture the Annapolis Machine’s alternate reality, writes Ryan Miner in A Miner Detail. Sixty-five percent of voters overall approve of the job Franchot is doing as Maryland’s comptroller: 70% of Democrats, 56% Republicans and 62% of independents.

PG COUNCIL SKEPTICAL OF ROAD WIDENING PLAN: The Prince George’s County Council is urging state leaders to conduct comprehensive environmental and financial reviews of the Hogan administration’s plans to widen the Capital Beltway before entering into any contracts with private-sector firms. Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that a resolution the panel adopted this week mirrors language that legislators opposed to the administration’s Interstate 495 and I-270 expansion plans attempted to pass in the General Assembly. That measure passed the House of Delegates but died in the state Senate.

MORE VISAS FOR CRAB WORKERS: Gov. Larry Hogan is praising federal approval for thousands of additional visas for foreign workers this summer to support the state’s crab industry, the AP is reporting. Hogan made the announcement Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security finalized allowing the additional visas through the H-2B Nonimmigrant Temporary Worker Program.

BPW DELAYS CONTRACT OVER PRIVACY ISSUE: A state contract with a San Francisco-based software provider to provide traffic data by tracking motorists’ smartphone apps has been put on hold after one Board of Public Works member raised privacy concerns. A vote on the one-year, $236,000 sole-source contract with Streetlight Insight was delayed for at least two weeks after Comptroller Peter Franchot asked for a briefing on how the cloud-based service works and what information is tracked and stored, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

OPINION: SIGN FOAM CONTAINER BAN: In an op-ed in Maryland Matters, Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan and Del. Brooke E. Lierman call on Gov. Hogan to sign a ban on foam food containers, writing that last month, the trash wheels in Baltimore’s harbor reached a dubious milestone: They had collected more than 1 million containers made from expanded polystyrene foam since they began operating. The only type of litter they have collected more of is cigarette butts.

BILL TO AID BALTIMORE HOMEOWNERS: A new bill signed into law by Gov. Hogan is expected to prevent hundreds of Baltimore homeowners behind in paying water bills from losing their property, reports John Rydell of WBFF-TV.  The Water Taxpayer Protection Act of 2019 would prohibit such homeowners from losing their homes, since the liens on their properties would no longer be sold at the city’s annual tax sale.

WHAT FEDS GOT IN ‘HEALTHY HOLLY’ RAID: Luke Broadwater, Kevin Rector and Ian Duncan of the Sun report that federal investigators who raided Baltimore City Hall late last month took about two dozen items, including copies of then-Mayor Catherine Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” books, a check from the University of Maryland Medical System and other materials related to Pugh and one of her closest aides.

3 SAY THEY ARE NOT ON BOARD: The job-training nonprofit connected to a federal investigation of former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has reported to Maryland regulators that three prominent city residents — a state senator, a former Colts running back and a well-known attorney — have served on its board of directors, which Pugh chaired for a decade. But, reports Doug Donovan for the Sun, all three have said they are not — and never have been — board members for the Maryland Center for Adult Training.

STRONACH SEEKS SUIT DISMISSAL: The owners and operators of the Pimlico Race Course are seeking dismissal of Baltimore’s lawsuit that would block plans to relocate the Preakness Stakes to another venue, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports. The Stronach Group has pledged only to keep the Preakness, scheduled this year for May 18, at Pimlico until 2020 and is considering moving the event to a track it owns in Laurel Park. Under state law, the race can be moved to another track in Maryland only “as a result of a disaster or emergency.”

TRUMP DISTANCES SELF FROM BOSSIE: Gabby Orr and Daniel Lippman of Politico report that the Trump campaign is distancing itself from one of its highest-profile supporters, David Bossie, two days after the president’s longtime friend was accused of using his political group to scam elderly Republican voters for his own financial gain. According to Wikipedia, Bossie attended Towson State University and the University of Maryland, but dropped out before graduation. He lives in Montgomery County and is the Republican National Committeeman for Maryland.

HOGAN, CARDIN TO SPEAK AT YOUNG INAUGURATION: Gov. Larry Hogan and Sen. Ben Cardin will speak at Baltimore Mayor Jack Young’s inauguration Thursday as the former City Council president official assumes his new role after Catherine Pugh’s resignation last week. In a news release, the city said Young will be sworn in as the city’s 51st mayor at The War Memorial at 2 p.m. Doors open to the public at 12:30 p.m.

TRUMP LOST MILLIONS: Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig of the New York Times report that by the time his master-of-the-universe memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.