Wed December 4, 2013
Mizeur To Accept Public Financing, Douglas Eyes AG’s Race, and Baltimore’s Strategic Plan
Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur will be the first gubernatorial candidate in 20 years to take part in Maryland’s public-financing system. Republican lawyer Richard Douglas eyes the Attorney General’s race. Plus: Baltimore’s strategic plan to improve its business climate, the “Bay Barometer,” and more.
Mizeur To Accept Public Financing: Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur will be the first gubernatorial candidate in 20 years to take part in Maryland’s public-financing system. As the Washington Post reports, Mizeur’s campaign plans to limit its spending to about $2.5-million during the primary; in exchange, it’ll be eligible for more than $1-million in state matching funds. Mizeur’s plan to enter the public financing system comes as she issues a broad proposal to limit the influence of special interests on elections… the Baltimore Sun reports that it includes a comprehensive public financing program, as well as a ban on corporate contributions and donations from state contractors. Mizeur also wants to increase the time that former legislators have to wait after leaving the General Assembly before becoming lobbyists. Mizeur is facing Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and state Attorney General Doug Gansler in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Both Brown and Gansler are expected to spend significantly more than $2.5-million in the primary.
Douglas Eyes AG’s Race: Next year’s race for state Attorney General may get its first Republican candidate. The Baltimore Sun reports that College Park lawyer Richard Douglas is considering mounting a bid for the post. Douglas ran for the GOP nomination in last year’s US Senate race, but lost to former secret service agent Dan Bongino, who’s running for Congress next year in the 6th District. The Washington Post notes that Maryland hasn’t elected a Republican Attorney General since 1918, and four years ago, no Republicans even entered the race. The Attorney General’s race is a crowded one, on the Democratic side… with State Senator Brian Frosh, and Delegates Aisha Braveboy, Jon Cardin, and Bill Frick, all running for their party’s nomination.
MD Health Benefit Exchange Still On Track To Reach Goals: Despite a rocky start, Maryland’s online health exchange is still expected to reach its enrollment goals. At least, that’s the opinion of Rebecca Pearce, the Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. Yesterday, Pearce acknowledged that only about 3-thousand people have used marylandhealthconnection.gov to sign up for private health insurance plans so far. But she says the state is still projecting some that 147-thousand more will be enrolled by the March 31st deadline. If that happens, about one fifth of the currently uninsured Marylanders will have insurance. Last week, Governor Martin O'Malley said that major problems with the online insurance exchange would be fixed by the middle of this month. And the Baltimore Sun notes that enrollment has been picking up as the technical problems are being resolved.
Baltimore Taps Texas Firm To Help With Strategic Plan: Baltimore City is looking to improve its business climate – and it’s hired a Texas-based consultant to help come up with a strategic plan to do so. The Baltimore Sun reports that the consultant has created similar plans for cities including Cincinnati and New Orleans; the Baltimore Development Corporation will pay up to nearly $170-thousand to develop the strategy for Baltimore. The plan will incorporate the ideas of local businesses, community leaders, and city residents; there will be a series of public hearings to get input – the first one is set for next week. And you can also add your input through an online survey. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says the eventual goal is to create new jobs, put new life into neighborhoods and bring in investors. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.
Familiar Blue-Versus-Green Conflict Over Cove Point: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Andy Green of the Baltimore Sun talk about the effort to build a liquefied natural gas terminal at Cove Point in Calvert County and why Governor O'Malley is in a difficult political position. It’s this morning’s look Inside Maryland Politics.
“Bay Barometer” Reports on Chesapeake Water Quality: The Chesapeake Bay Program’s annual report on the Bay and its tributaries says that many water quality goals are still not being met. The so-called "Bay Barometer," released yesterday, indicates that only 29 percent of the Bay and the rivers and streams that feed it have adequate water quality. Just a few years ago, some 40 percent of the Bay and its tributaries were classified as adequate. Officials with the Chesapeake Bay Program tell the Baltimore Sun they know there's a lot of work that still must be done. They also say that it may take years for the beneficial effects of Bay protection efforts to be seen… such efforts include the planting of cover crops and the reduction of urban stormwater runoff.
Minimum Wage Legislation: The push to raise the minimum wage in Washington DC and the two Maryland counties that border the district moved forward yesterday, when the DC City Council voted unanimously to raise their rate to $11.50 an hour, phased in over the next three years. The Wall Street Journal reports that the legislation is similar to a bills already approved by Montgomery County Council and the Prince George’s County Council; the major difference is that the two Maryland counties would phase in the increase over four years, instead of three. The Gazette reports that Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is expected to sign his county’s bill into law tomorrow. And the General Assembly is set to take up the minimum wage at the statewide level in next year’s session; Maryland’s minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, and Governor Martin O’Malley says that he plans to make raising it a priority.
Medstar Plans Layoffs: Columbia-based MedStar has alerted the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation that it plans to lay off 74 workers at the end of January… those workers will be removed from MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, MedStar Harbor Hospital and MedStar Union Memorial Hospital. Medstar says the jobs being cut are from facilities management and real estate brokerage services. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.
Morgan State Fraternity Put On Probation: A Morgan State University fraternity chapter is on probation until 2015 after accusations of discrimination. The school says a student was turned down for membership in the fraternity because he is gay. A disciplinary panel agreed the move violated school policy. The Baltimore Sun reports that under the panel’s decision, Morgan's Alpha Iota chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity will be prevented from taking part in school sponsored activities or hosting events.
Baltimore’s Mitten Tree To Accept Donations Next Week: Baltimore's mitten tree will be back for a 40th year. The annual campaign to collect mittens, caps, gloves and scarves for those in need kicks off next week. City officials will launch the effort on December 12th in the lobby of the Abel Wolman Municipal Building on Holliday Street. There will be music and Santa Claus will toss the first mittens on the tree. Collections will run through December 20th and the Salvation Army will distribute the clothing to the less fortunate. There’s more here from the Baltimore News Journal.