Wed April 16, 2014
The Governor’s Race, Campaign Finance, Kamenetz’s Budget Proposal, & A MARC Ridership Record
The latest on issues being discussed in the governor’s race. How Supreme Court campaign finance decision could affect Maryland. A look at the proposed budget for Baltimore County. Plus: record weekend ridership for MARC trains, fixing potholes in Frederick County, and more.
Gansler Calls For Elimination Of State Prosecutor’s Office, Implementation Of Combined Reporting: State Attorney General Doug Gansler wants to get rid of the state prosecutor’s office. Gansler, who’s running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, says that eliminating the office would save the state up to $1.2-million a year. Gansler says that the office’s duties overlap with those of other law enforcement offices. But as the Baltimore Sun reports, the executive director of watchdog group Common Cause Maryland argues that the independence of the agency should be preserved. In recent years, the state prosecutor’s office has led the prosecution of now-former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon for embezzlement and now-former Anne Arundel county Executive John Leopold for misconduct in office. Gansler’s call to eliminate the state prosecutor’s office is part of a longer proposal to streamline state spending, which he says he’d implement if elected governor. The Annapolis Capital reports that the proposal calls for Maryland to adopt a practice called “combined reporting” – which would require Maryland companies pay income taxes on revenues they earn out of state. Combined reporting is already law in half the states in the US, and Gansler says its implementation would bring in $27.3-million a year. Another Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur, has led attempts in General Assembly to imposed combined reporting, but they were unsuccessful. The Washington Post has more.
Mizeur Calls For Physician-Assisted Suicide, Makes Proposals Aimed At Maryland Seniors: Heather Mizeur says that if she’s elected governor, she would advocate for a law allowing physician-assisted suicide in Maryland. Three states already have such laws in place, called “death with dignity” laws by their supporters. Mizeur tells the Baltimore Sun that “if terminally ill, mentally competent adults choose to end their li[ves]” with the help of doctors, they should be allowed to do so. Mizeur announced that proposal yesterday along with a plan that would create state-backed retirement savings accounts for Maryland workers who don’t have access to such plans through their employers. It’s part of a broad series of proposals aimed at Maryland seniors, which also includes a statewide geriatric mental health outreach program, elder abuse prevention, and ensuring greater empowerment over medical decisions. There’s more here from the Washington Post. Mizeur’s campaign picked up another endorsement yesterday, from the Association of Flight Attendants union.
Brown “Prematurely” Announces Endorsement: Another Democratic candidate for governor – Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown – announced yesterday that is campaign had won the endorsement of a labor organization that represents building trades workers, such as roofers, plumbers, and bricklayers. But as the Washington Post reports, that announcement was premature, at best. The executive director of the labor organization says his group hasn’t officially decided to endorse, and that they will “make [their] position known…. When [they’re] ready to.” There are three other Democrats in the race for their party’s nomination; the primary election takes place on June 24th.
Hogan Reports Fundraising Totals: Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan has raised more than $450-thousand since he entered the race, three months ago. As the Baltimore Sun reports, that’s more than all of Hogan’s rivals for the GOP nomination took in throughout the entirety of last year. Hogan, who served on the cabinet of former governor Bob Ehrlich, says his campaign will use the money to expand its radio and cable television advertising efforts. Hogan’s camp has already spent several hundred thousand dollars in outreach efforts, and now has about $168-thousand in the bank. It’s hard to make direct cash on hand comparisons with other campaigns, which won’t file new finance statements until May… but the Sun notes that one of Hogan’s rivals – Harford County Executive David Craig -- had about $183-thousand in the bank when it last filed, in January. Also running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination are Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George and Charles County Businessman Charles Lollar. CORRECTION: Hogan's campaign has not yet reached the seed money threshold to take part in Maryland's public financing system, but the Hogan camp tells WYPR that it expects it will reach the threshold "soon." An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Hogan was not taking part in public financing; our apologies for the error.
How Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision May Affect Maryland: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Todd Eberly of St. Mary's College talk about the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down aggregate campaign donation limits and how that might affect states like Maryland where one party is consistently dominant. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Remembering John Adams: Full of the hope that comes with opportunity, John Adams lost his newly promising life last Tuesday night. WYPR’s Fraser Smith reports.
Kamenetz Eyes Future Of School Buildings: There are no property tax increases or income tax increases in Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. As the Baltimore Sun reports, Kamenetz released the $1.75-billion operating budget plan yesterday, which increases current spending by about four-percent. About $176-million is earmarked for capital projects. County Executive Kamenetz also unveiled a $1.1-billion school construction and renovation plan designed to eliminate classroom overcrowding. He tells WYPR’s Kenneth Burns that County schools could face a shortage of 14-hundred seats within 7 years if something isn’t done.
Lawsuit Against Owners Of Madison Park North Apartments: Some residents of a subsidized Baltimore apartment complex are suing their landlord for what they say are unacceptable and unhealthy conditions. 32 adults and their children are being represented in the lawsuit which claims that the owners of Madison Park North Apartments have neglected their tenants. The lawsuit also claims that residents suffered reprisals when they spoke out about conditions. Baltimore city has tried to revoke the landlord’s license to operate the apartments; that case is set to go before the state’s Court of Appeals next month. The Baltimore Sun was unable to reach the landlords for comment about the latest lawsuit.
Weekend MARC Ridership Posts Record: The National Cherry Blossom Festival is being credited with helping to boost weekend MARC train ridership. Governor Martin O'Malley says a record 13-thousand-338 people took trips on MARC Penn Line trains this past weekend, which is more than three times the number who used the service on its first weekend in December. O'Malley says the investment to expand MARC service helped thousands of Marylanders enjoy the cherry blossoms in DC without having to drive. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.
$15-Million In Grant Money For BWI: BWI Marshall Airport is receiving a $15-million federal grant for runway improvements. The money is from the Airport Improvement Program. It is the second installment of a $44-million project, aimed at improving traffic flow on the airport's aircraft taxiway system. Officials say the project will complement a separate $350-million runway improvement project, also partially funded through the federal program. The Baltimore Sun has more.
Frederick County Water Quality: The water in Frederick County is safe to drink. At least, according to the County’s annual water quality test, the results of which were released earlier this week. The Frederick News Post reports that all of the dangerous substances the test’s designed to detect – including lead and E. coli bacteria – were either not found, or were found at levels deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Frederick County Pothole Repair: Fredrick County will be accepting more than half a million dollars from the state to fix potholes on county roads. The money’s part of some $10-million set aside by the state’s Department of Transportation to pay for such work. The Frederick County Commissioners voted to take the money yesterday. The Frederick News Post notes that the icy winter has caused significant damage to county roads; Frederick County Commissioners President Blaine Young says the state funds will “help us out big time.”
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles did not play the Tampa Bay Rays last night; the game was postponed because of rain. The O’s are set to take on the Rays this afternoon at Camden Yards; first pitch is set for 12:35pm.
Washington Baseball: The Washington Nationals lost yesterday’s game against the Miami Marlins; the score was 11 to 2.