State Roundup, November 20, 2019

Ex-Mayor Pugh indicted; Del. Barve to propose bill to shutter state’s remaining coal-fired plants; union proposes tax changes to fund Kirwan education plan; Maryland roads score high on quality, spending, in ConsumerAffairs report; Gov. Hogan’s appointments secretary says vetting, hirings are not political; Sen. Guzzone to replace King as Budget-Tax panel chair; NRA backs gun rights advocates’ appeal of Maryland law; Sen. Jill Carter jumps into crowded race for seat of late U.S. Rep. Cummings;  state Sen. Washington announces run for Baltimore mayor; and Baltimore City Council finally passes plastic bag ban.

Maryland roads score high on quality and spending

Maryland nearly made the Top 10 of Best Roads in the country in rankings for a consumer website. Maryland came in at 38, in reverse scoring chart where number 1 was worst and number 50 was best. Maryland scored better than any of its neighbors, while also outspending them per mile of road, according to ConsumerAffairs.com, a web-based consumer news and resource center.

State Roundup, November 19, 2019

GAO assesses impact of climate change on most contaminated sites, including seven in Maryland; vaping businesses suffer during health scare; Howard board of ed straw votes signal move toward redistricting with some changes; Gov. Larry Hogan keeps big announcements under wraps, but with a cost to some political relationships; Baltimore City Council pushes state on richer HBCU settlement;poultry slurry tank plan stirs controversy in Wicomico; state Sen. William Smith returns from Afghanistan deployment to different political world; Ellicott City plan awaits one land purchase; Del. Parrott to seek U.S. Rep. Trone’s seat; and Evening Sun editorial cartoonist Mike Lane dies at 78.

Eastern Shore controversy spotlights chicken plant slurry

Residents of rural Wicomico County are upset about the construction of a 3-million-gallon tank of chicken “residuals” leftover from the processing of poultry which is spread on farmland. The 23-foot-tall tank will contain an oily slurry culled from the wastewater generated by two poultry industry facilities in a neighboring county. One homeowner fears the odor will drive her indoors, attract hordes of flies and cause the value of nearby properties, including hers, to plummet.

State Roundup, November 18, 2019

Central Maryland school districts split over pre- or post-Labor Day school start; marijuana commission restricts sale of some vape products; environmental, financial concerns arise over proposed American Legion Bridge project; Maryland pushing health care signups even as Trump administration continues to seek dismantling of Obamacare; Gov. Hogan OKs attorney Nicole Williams for former Del. Gaines’ seat; state GOP holds weekend convention; state police agencies wrestle with drone use vs. privacy issues; Maya Rockeymoore Cummings undergoes preventative double mastectomy as she readies run for late husband’s congressional seat; Howard County Del. Hill jumps into fray to seek Cummings’ seat; and House Speaker Pelosi blasts Trump during fundraiser for U.S. Rep. David Trone.

State Roundup, November 15, 2019

Baltimore reaches staggering 300 homicides for fifth year in a row; Gov. Larry Hogan is frustrated with rising violence in the city; Kirwan talk of the town around Maryland; Sykesville fire that caused two deaths didn’t have smoke detectors; vaping victim speaks out; Maryland making it more convenient to get REAL ID compliant; Howard County schools redistricting sparks big conversations about diversity, achievement, need-based programs; Franchot meets with Montgomery Dems; UMD father not satisfied with investigation into daughter’s death; Rawlings-Blake won’t seek Cummings seat; special election planning difficult for schools; new Democratic chair to be elected; Purple Line will be key for PG housing plans; court rules against MTA police show of force; Air BnB legislation difficult to enforce; nonprofit group supports police in Blue Line Flag debate; Del. Jalisi shares top priorities; more than a dozen teachers want to join state Board of Education; courthouse to be named in memory of Cummings

State Roundup, November 14, 2019

Hundreds of supporters of Maryland’s historically black universities and colleges rally in Annapolis to voice opposition to Gov. Hogan’s final offer of $200 million to settle lawsuit as Speaker Jones takes to the mic to back $577 million settlement; General Assembly likely won’t address legalizing recreational marijuana in 2020 session; Hogan taps Keiffer Mitchell as top lobbyist for his agenda; two companies proposing off-shore wind farms raise the height on their turbines by more than 200 feet, pushing regulators to reopen discussions; oops: state errs in sending 22,000 warnings to drivers over Hatem Bridge; Comptroller Franchot offers same message to Republicans and Democrats on the limits of government; Howard high schools back on the table over redistricting discussions; UB to train 3,000 as elections judges to Feb. 4 special primary to fill U.S. Rep. Cummings’ seat; and Cummings’ papers to go to Howard University.

State Roundup, November 13, 2019

Maryland, Virginia governors announce partnership to rebuild American Legion Bridge over the Potomac in attempt to relieve major traffic congestion on I-495; dozens show up at last public hearing of Kirwan Commission to show support for pricey, statewide education reform proposals; audit office under Kirwan would be weak; Washington County air concerns to lawmakers before start of Annapolis session; field for seat held by late U.S. Rep. Cummings gets crowded; Cummings was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer 25 years ago; and Baltimore city seeks to fix laws on prohibiting posting ‘early’ campaign signs.

Md. Inspector General for education: A junkyard dog that can’t bite

In Maryland, compromise provisions of the law “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future” establishing (among other things) an independent Inspector General (IG) for Education, have created a weak auditing office—a tired, toothless canine. The new IG will be statutorily much weaker than his or her counterparts within the U.S. GAO, federal IG offices, Maryland’s Office of Legislative Audits (OLA), and IGs in the state’s executive-branch agencies.