MD Congressman Steny Hoyer reacts to this weekend’s agreement between Iran and the US, which would see Iran’s nuclear program put on hold for the next six months. Plus: news from the MD GOP’s fall convention, Hogan plans to enter governor’s race, the proposed CSX terminal in Baltimore, and more.
Hoyer On Iran Deal: As you heard from NPR, an historic deal with Iran was reached over the weekend; under the agreement, Iran will put its nuclear program on hold for the next six months and the US and its allies will pause or reduce some sanctions. Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer is cautiously optimistic about the agreement, but the 5th District Democrat says he’d like to see the Senate pass a House bill that levies tough new sanctions on Iran, but only implement those sanctions if Iran fails to live up to its end of the deal. Hoyer serves as House Minority Whip; his comments came yesterday on CBS’s Face the Nation.
News From MD GOP’s Fall Convention: The Maryland Republican Party held its fall convention in Annapolis over the weekend… and at the event, GOP lawmakers from the House of Delegates unveiled their legislative priorities for next year’s General Assembly session. As the Washington Post reports, those priorities include a 10 percent reduction of state income taxes, Maryland’s withdrawal from the “Common Core” education initiative, and a repeal of legislation requiring many Marylanders to pay stormwater fees (called the “rain tax” by critics). Republicans are a minority in the state legislature, so their proposals face a tough climb… but the Post notes that even if they’re not approved, they could play a major role in next year’s elections. The MD GOP is also walking away from a proposal to open up its primary elections to independent voters – at least, for next year’s vote. The Washington Post reports that the GOP has left open the possibility of allowing independent voters cast ballots in its statewide primaries after 2014. And delegates at the GOP convention voted down a resolution that would have urged Republican lawmakers convicted of crimes that result in jail time to resign; the measure follows the sentence of 60 days in jail for Anne Arundel County Delegate Don Dwyer on alcohol-related offenses. Dwyer is serving his sentence on weekends, and is expected to continue his work in the House when next year’s General Assembly session gets underway.
Hogan Eyes Governor’s Race: The 2014 governor’s race looks like it’s getting more crowded on the Republican side. On Friday, Larry Hogan announced that he plans to mount a bid for the state’s top job. The Washington Post notes that Hogan served as Appointments Secretary under Bob Ehrlich, Maryland’s last GOP governor. Hogan says he’ll make a formal announcement of his candidacy in January. He’ll be vying for his party’s nomination with candidates including Harford County Executive David Craig, Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George, and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar. The only Republican gubernatorial candidates to have filed their paperwork with the state board of elections so far are the team of Brian Vaeth and Duane Davis… but gubernatorial candidates have until February 25th to get their paperwork in. Maryland’s gubernatorial primary election takes place in June.
Baltimore Re-born, Re-imagined: Much of Baltimore still struggles with crime, drugs and decay, but water, warehouses and green-living young people are redefining the city. The change occurring along the waterfront and beyond amounts to a resurgence and even to an altered identity. Today, WYPR Senior News Analyst Fraser Smith begins “Bright Promise, Sobering Challenge,” a three part series derived from the historical perspective of Jay Brodie, a steward of growth in the city for almost 40 years.
How Panama Canal Expansion Might Affect Baltimore's Morrell Park: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Fern Shen of BaltimoreBrew.com talk about Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's advocacy of a proposed (and controversial) intermodal railroad facility in Morrell Park that aims to capitalize on increased shipping from an expanded Panama Canal. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Amtrak Looks To Replace Tunnel: Amtrak says it’s planning to replace the “Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel” – it was in that tunnel that an Amtrak train derailed last week, disrupting travel for nearly a day. The 1.4 mile tunnel is 140 years old; some 85 Amtrak trains and 60 MARC trains use it every day. The Baltimore Sun reports that replacing the tunnel is expected to cost about $1.5-billion; there’s no word on when the work could begin.
Baltimore City Council To Look At Police Staffing Needs: Tonight, a Baltimore City Council committee hearing will take place looking at the staffing needs of the Baltimore Police Department. This will be the first such hearing since a crime-fighting strategy conducted by outside consultants was released last week. Members from the police and finance departments are expected to appear before the council’s Public Safety Committee. Concerns about staffing needs and overtime cost are expected to be addressed during the hearing. The consultant’s report addresses staffing issues, such as attrition and work schedules.
Overtime In Anne Arundel County: The amount of overtime put in by Anne Arundel County employees is up nearly 50 percent from 3 years ago. The Capital Gazette reports that overtime costs in Anne Arundel, in the fiscal year that ended in June, were just under $20-million. Almost half the overtime hours went to County firefighters… but some 65 percent of county workers put in overtime during the last year. Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman says that encouraging employees to work overtime has saved money on health and retirement benefits for new employees. Neuman does say she expects overtime hours to drop in the years to come.
Opponents Move to Shave ‘Lyft’ Mustache in Maryland: Maryland’s Public Service Commission will hear two requests today pertaining to the app based ride sharing service called Lyft. As WYPR’s Kenneth Burns reports, Yellow Transportation, which owns a large fleet of taxis in Baltimore, is asking the commission to issue a cease-and-desist order until Lyft meets regulatory requirements. And the state Office of People’s Counsel is requesting Lyft’s operation be investigated and an emergency hearing take place. The People’s Counsel expressed concern about the company’s reliance on drivers without carrier or for-hire licenses as well as “insurance issues revolving around the company.” Local Lyft managers asked their members over the weekend to lobby the commissioners on the company’s behalf. Officials at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco said they have been in contact with the PSC and look forward to working with them.
Naval Academy Midshipmen Allowed Mustaches During “Movember”: Midshipmen at the Naval Academy are allowed to grow mustaches. The Brigade has permission from the top command during Midshipman Mustache Month. Normally, midshipmen are forbidden to have any facial hair, but the rules have been relaxed for November – or “Movember” as the month’s being called by groups behind organized mustache growing – aimed at raising awareness of men’s health issues. But there are strict regulations for mustaches at the Naval Academy; the Baltimore Sun notes that ‘staches may not touch the tops of midshipmen’s lips, and cannot grow down the sides of their mouths.
Police Issue Warning To Holiday Shoppers: Police are reminding shoppers to be on their guard this holiday season. Law enforcement officials tell the Frederick News Post that thefts and car break-ins tend to increase at this time of year. That's why it's important to keep valuables or shopping bags out of sight in your car. Shoppers also should avoid the distraction of using a cellphone when walking in a mall parking lot. These reminders come on the heels of an armed robbery Friday inside Towson Town Center where two thieves stole a man's cash and cellphone.
Baltimore Football: The Ravens took down the New York Jets 19 to 3 in yesterday’s game. The Ravens will be back on the field Thanksgiving Day, for a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.