Wed September 18, 2013
Primary Results In Annapolis, Craig’s Call For Environmental Law Repeal, and Howard County Politics
Incumbent Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen (D) will face off against Mike Pantelides (R) in the November general election. Harford County Executive David Craig calls for a repeal of environmental laws. Plus: the Howard County Executive race, Perry’s trip to MD, and more.
Annapolis Mayoral Primary: The field is set for this year’s general election in Annapolis. Incumbent Mayor Josh Cohen held off a strong primary challenge yesterday, to win the Democratic endorsement for a second term with about 57 percent of the vote. Republicans selected Mike Pantelides as their candidate; he won about 65 percent of the GOP vote. Annapolis’s general election is on November 5th. WYPR’s Joel McCord filed this story Tuesday night (with a slightly different vote tally, as fewer ballots had then been counted). There’s more here from the Capital Gazette and here from the Baltimore Sun.
Board Of Revenue Estimates Lowers Projections: The Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates has lowered revenue projections for the current fiscal year. State Comptroller Peter Franchot says that the state will likely bring in $15.33-billion in FY-2014, that’s nearly $62-million dollars less than the state had been expecting. And Comptroller Franchot tells the Baltimore Business Journal that revenues could drop even more, if Congress’s disagreements over the budget and the nation’s debt ceiling lead to a government shutdown. Franchot says that federal spending drives about a third of Maryland’s economic activity.
Craig Calls For Repeal Of Environmental Laws: Harford County Executive David Craig wants to get rid of stormwater fees – both in Harford County and around the state. And the Republican is also calling for what the Baltimore Sun describes as a “sweeping rollback of Maryland’s environmental laws.” Craig says he’ll introduce legislation in the Harford County Council to repeal the fees, which he characterizes as a “rain tax.” He also wants the fees repealed for the other jurisdictions they affect. Craig is also calling for the elimination of the Critical Area Act – a law passed in 1984, designed to protect the Bay by limiting development along the Bay and its tributaries. And Craig also wants to abolish a law that requires Maryland farmers to limit fertilizer and animal waste runoff. Craig is running for governor next year; others vying for the GOP nomination include Anne Arundel County Delegate Ron George and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar.
Environmental Groups Oppose LNG Terminal: A coalition of environmental groups is calling on Governor Martin O’Malley to oppose the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed LNG terminal would go up at Calvert County’s Cove Point; the 3.8 billion dollar facility would be the first on the East Coast to export liquefied natural gas to the world’s markets; there are three other such facilities pending approval on the Gulf Coast. This project has won approval from the Department of Energy, but still needs permits from the state Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to move forward. The Baltimore Sun says that a 120-group coalition is concerned that the LNG facility would pollute the Bay and the air. Governor O’Malley has not yet taken a position on the project; he says through a spokesperson that he’s “reviewing the issue very carefully.”
Panel Formed To Address Training Workers To Interact With Disabled: Governor Martin O’Malley has created a state commission tasked with improving training for state employees whose jobs can require them to deal with people with disabilities. The Washington Post reports that the commission will be led by Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics. It’ll issue its first report early next year. The commission was created in response to the January death of Ethan Saylor, a developmentally challenged man who died while in custody of Frederick County law enforcement officers. Saylor’s family is calling for an independent investigation of the case; Governor O’Malley’s aides tell the Frederick News Post that he’s considering whether to call for one, but don’t offer a timeline on when that decision might be made.
The Race Is (Almost) On To Succeed Ulman In Howard County: WYPR's Nathan Sterner and Amanda Yeager of the Howard County Times talk about Councilwoman Courtney Watson's expected announcement of her candidacy for Howard County Executive and how she and State Senator Allen Kittleman stack up. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.
Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty: A second state corrections officer is now admitting her role in a conspiracy to smuggle contraband into the Baltimore City Detention Center. The officer pleaded guilty to racketeering in federal court yesterday; she faces a possible 20 year prison term when she is sentenced. The Baltimore Sun reports that 11 other corrections officers are facing charges in relation to a smuggling ring, in which drugs and cell phones were brought to into jail, where they were used and distributed by the Black Guerrilla Family prison gang. The gang’s ringleader pleaded guilty earlier this summer. Revelations of the smuggling ring sparked multiple investigations into the state’s correctional system.
Perry To Visit MD, Debate O’Malley: Texas Governor Rick Perry will be in Maryland today in an effort to lure businesses and residents to his state. Perry's visit has been preceded by a series of television and radio ads, blasting Maryland's taxes and fees and calling on residents to check Texas out. Perry has no public events but is expected to visit gun maker Beretta and hold a private reception for other companies. He will also square off against Governor Martin O'Malley on CNN's Crossfire tonight. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from the Washington Post.
Payday Lenders Face Cease And Desist Order: Maryland regulators are going after online lenders who’ve been accused of making unlicensed consumer loans. The state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has issued a cease and desist against lenders MyCashNow, Paydaymax and DiscountAdvances.com. State officials tell the Baltimore Business Journal the companies have gave out dozens of Internet loans with interest rates over 200-percent, well over Maryland's legal limits.
Retailers Indicted For Food Stamp Fraud: Nine Baltimore area retailers are under federal indictment for allegedly committing food stamp fraud. Prosecutors say the retailers received nearly $7-million in federal payments for transactions in which they did not provide any food. The Baltimore Sun reports that they allegedly engaged in a practice known as food stamp trafficking, where the store owners split the proceeds of the scam with food stamp recipients. The defendants all face a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
Commercial Vehicles Targeted On Bay Bridge: Authorities are cracking down on commercial vehicles on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Anne Arundel County police says random vehicles are getting spot-checked, and drivers are getting ticketed. WJZ reports that 5% of all Bay Bridge crashes involve commercial vehicles.
Heat-Related Deaths Down In Summer 2013: Maryland has just come out of its coolest summer in four years… and state health officials say the season saw the lowest number of heat-related deaths since 2009. The Baltimore Sun reports that 15 Marylanders died of illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke during “meteorological summer” which runs from June through August. Last year, a far hotter summer, the state saw 46 heat-related deaths.
Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox yesterday; the score was 3 to 2. The O’s look to do it again when the two teams play again tonight. The O’s are now two games out of a Wild Card slot.