State Roundup: Offshore wind developer nixes deal; Moore sends agenda to lawmakers; parties’ stranglehold over vacancies is challenged again

State Roundup: Offshore wind developer nixes deal; Moore sends agenda to lawmakers; parties’ stranglehold over vacancies is challenged again

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OFFSHORE WIND DEVELOPER PULLS OUT OF PACT WITH MD.: Maryland’s nascent offshore wind energy industry suffered a major blow late Thursday when one of the two companies planning to install wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City announced that it was “repositioning” its plans, pulling out of its agreement with the state and seeking alternative financial arrangements to keep the project going. A spokesperson for Gov. Wes Moore (D), who has vowed to make Maryland a leader in developing offshore wind, said the governor was disappointed by the news. Josh Kurtz/Maryland Matters

  • The company said in its notice to Maryland regulators that it is not ceasing development on its the wind farm, which is planned off the coast of northern Ocean City. But the company is saying to Maryland regulators and policymakers that the current pricing limit on wind energy is not commercially viable, and it will need to be changed going forward. Christine Condon/The Baltimore Sun

MOORE SENDS AGENDA TO HOUSE AND SENATE: Gov. Wes Moore (D) delivered a 16-bill legislative package Wednesday for the second session of his term. The governor’s legislation falls into four areas — public safety, affordability, making the state more competitive, and public service — that were highlighted in his recent budget announcement. Bryan P. Sears/Maryland Matters

WILL PARTIES’ STRANGLEHOLD OVER VACANCIES CHANGE THIS YEAR?: Statewide, 23% of the 188-member Maryland General Assembly first acquired their seats through appointment. The frequency of vacancies occurring in between elections has led to a years-long push by several members of the Montgomery County legislative delegation to trim the power of political party committees in all of the state’s 24 major jurisdictions to make appointments to fill vacancies – and to give voters a say when such vacancies do occur. Those advocating a change in the status quo are cautiously optimistic that 2024 may finally be their year. Louis Peck/MoCo360

BMORE CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT TESTIFIES AT EX-WIFE’S FRAUD TRIAL: Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby on Thursday took the blame for the federal tax problems afflicting him and his now ex-wife, testifying at her mortgage fraud trial that he caused them to owe tens of thousands of dollars and lied about taking care of the debt to protect their family. Dylan Segelbaum/The Baltimore Banner

  • Nick Mosby’s testimony comes on the fourth day of Marilyn Mosby’s trial, and after the prosecution spent days laying out evidence supporting its allegations. He testified he was the only member of the couple who interacted with their tax preparer, that he caused the problems that led to the debts, considered their taxes to be his responsibility and that he was not transparent about their liabilities. Alex Mann & Jean Marbella/The Baltimore Sun

TAKOMA PARK HIRES EX-ROCKVILLE CITY MANAGER WHO QUIT: Takoma Park has hired former Rockville City Manager Robert DiSpirito as its new city manager, according to a press release from the city of Takoma Park. The City Council voted to confirm his appointment on Jan. 17. DiSpirito resigned from his Rockville post on Aug. 17, 2023 – hours after the council held a closed session earlier in the day to discuss his performance and three months after he had been placed on a performance improvement plan. Ginny Bixby/MoCo360

CITY OF FREDERICK WAS VICTIM OF WIRE FRAUD LAST NOVEMBER: The city of Frederick was the victim of wire fraud in connection with a project to create a new police headquarters, a city spokesperson said Thursday. The city’s staff learned about the wire fraud in November 2023, city spokesperson Allen Etzler wrote in an email. Etzler said the city is not releasing the amount believed to have been taken. Maryland State Police are investigating the case, he wrote. Ryan Marshall/The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK CO. BOARD OF EDUCATION OKS DRAFT BUDGET AHEAD OF STATE CUTS: The Frederick County Board of Education on Wednesday decided to take Superintendent Cheryl Dyson’s recommended budget to a public hearing next week without adding any new requests. The decision came minutes after Frederick County Public Schools’ head of fiscal services told the board that it would have fewer state dollars per student next year than it does this year, resulting in a roughly $5 million decrease to overall expected revenues for the district. Jillian Altesek/The Frederick News-Post

KEITH OLBERMANN BASHES BILL FERGUSON AND HIS CAUCUS:  Political commentator Keith Olbermann’ on Thursday bestowed the dubious honor of “worst persons in the world” on Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson and the Maryland Senate Democrats over the confirmation and later resignation of Carlos Ayala from the Maryland State Board of Elections. Ayala resigned this month after he was arrested by the FBI for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Bryan P. Sears/Maryland Matters

EDUCATION OFFICIALS SPELL OUT PRIORITIES TO HOUSE PANEL: Some of Maryland’s top education officials converged in Annapolis on Wednesday to give the House Ways and Means Committee one message: Make sure public education remains fully funded. The officials also asked lawmakers to continue to support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan. William J. Ford/Maryland Matters

BAY BRIDGE IS SLATED FOR POTENTIAL UPDATES: Maryland is facing a future of financial straits when it comes to funding transportation projects. For those concerned with crossing those straits and about promised projects yet to be completed, the inspiration of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge – undergoing potential updates of its own – stands tall as an example. Dwight A. Weingarten/The [Hagerstown] Herald-Mail

ELECTION DATES TO REMEMBER: It is a presidential election year in the United States, and the primary season is underway. Some states have their citizens’ voices heard early in the process while snow still lays on the ground, but Marylanders don’t head to the polls until May. Whether you are a first-time voter or cast your ballot in the election between Kennedy and Nixon, here are some key dates all Maryland residents need to know. Dwight A. Weingarten/The [Hagerstown] Herald-Mail

COMMENTARY: MOORE’S BUDGET WOULD DEVASTATE COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Gov. Wes Moore’s proposed fiscal year 2025 state budget, which was released on Jan. 18, includes the fourth-largest cut to community colleges in the history of the Cade Funding formula – a $22 million reduction. There is still time to reverse this devastating recommendation that would cause unrepairable harm to students who are desperately trying to join the middle class and improve their quality of life. Brad Phillips/Maryland Matters

OPINION: WHY IS MAINSTREAM SO WORRIED ABOUT SUN PURCHASE?: “What is it about Sinclair and its leader that has the paragons of journalistic integrity so upset? ,” asks Jim Pettit in The Hill

OPINION; PUTTING $400 MILLION INTO PIMLICO IS A BAD BET: “It’s not just that we don’t have this money and there are far better uses for it if we did. It’s that a horse track is neither a viable economic development tool nor a desirable urban renewal strategy in a part of the city that desperately needs both. If gambling on the ponies generated spillover benefits for nearby residents, the Pimlico neighborhood would be stable and prosperous already. It’s not, and that’s partly because of, rather than in spite of, Old Hilltop’s presence.” Christopher Summers in The Sun

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