June 19, 2015

State Roundup, June 19, 2015

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DEADLY FORCE: Lawmakers considering changes to policing in Maryland after the death of Freddie Gray are looking at whether state law should more strictly define the circumstances in which officers can use deadly force. Sen. Catherine Pugh, co-chair of the state’s new working group on public safety, said she wants to learn more about how and when local police are trained to pull their weapons. The panel is reviewing the law amid growing concern around policing in Baltimore, where homicides have spiked and arrests have declined since six Baltimore police officers were charged in Gray’s arrest and death, writes Kevin Rector of the Sun.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORMS: Gov. Larry Hogan this year became the latest Republican state leader to back bills intended to reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders find jobs. Advocates say he and other Republicans have shown a willingness to rethink long-held theories about how to reduce crime, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting. “There’s a change in climate in criminal justice reform,” said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a national advocacy group that has worked to change the way Americans view crime and punishment

FROSH FILES AGAINST EVEREST GROUPS: Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is seeking to put investment adviser and infomercial star Philippe Rousseaux and his Towson firms out of business. Frosh alleges in an administrative filing that Rousseaux, either independently or through his Everest financial companies, has misled clients about service charges and the firms’ stock market successes and falsified forms intended to protect investors when transferring assets, writes Steve Lash in the Daily Record.

CONCERN OVER LIQUOR BOARD FUTURE:  With only two weeks until Thomas Ward steps down as chairman of the Baltimore Liquor Board, indications that Gov. Larry Hogan will appoint replacements who will reverse Ward’s reforms have the feisty retired judge and some community members worried, reports Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew.

KOREAN BIZ OWNERS, SRB BUTT HEADS: The head of a Korean business association has accused Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of prejudice as she butts heads with Gov. Larry Hogan over whether recovery loans should go to certain liquor stores damaged during riots after Freddie Gray’s death in April, Kenneth Burns reports for WYPR-FM.

Veep _1Sheet_v3.indd‘VEEP’ HEADS OUT: HBO announced on Thursday that it will move the production of “Veep,” its political comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, out of Maryland to Southern California, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. “After four years and a long deliberation we have decided to move the production of Veep to Los Angeles,” said Cecile Cross-Plummer, an HBO spokesman, in a statement.

ARUNDEL CASINO GRANTS: The group that oversees Anne Arundel County’s share of Maryland Live casino revenues voted Wednesday to increase community grants from $250,000 to $300,000. The grants are awarded to local organizations that improve the community in a 3-mile radius of the casino, such as Severn Crest Homeowners Association and the Assistance League of Chesapeake, Cindy Huang writes in the Annapolis Capital.

MATTHEWS AD: Kathleen Matthews, the former news anchor running in Maryland’s 8th congressional district, released an introductory web video Thursday that touts her background and outlines the message she hopes to project in the race for the Democratic nomination, John Fritze reports in the Sun. The article is topped by the video spot.

END FOSSIL FUEL RELIANCE, O’MALLEY SAYS: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley called Thursday for ending the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels by 2050 and doubling energy efficiency within 15 years — making the environment the focus of one of his presidential campaign’s first major policy rollouts, reports the Sun’s John Fritze.. The ideas, outlined in a USA TODAY op-ed, coincided with the release of an encyclical by Pope Francis, who called for a “bold cultural revolution” to address the threats posed by global warming.

FREDERICK BUDGET CHIEF PAYOUT: By the time Frederick County government is done paying Regina Williams under the terms of a settlement agreement, she will have collected about $118,000. Williams, the county’s former budget officer, has been receiving pay equivalent to a $115,065 annual salary since she went on leave in February. The county also agreed to pay Williams $78,000 on or shortly after the first payday of fiscal 2016, which is July 1, according to the agreement, which The Frederick News-Post obtained this week through a Maryland Public Information Act request, writes Jen Fifield for the paper.

TRANSIT AUTHORITY CONTROVERSY: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett faced significant opposition from speakers who assailed his plan to set up an independent transit authority at Wednesday night’s public meeting of the county Transit Task Force, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Magazine. The opposition isn’t new. After a public outcry, Leggett withdrew a state bill in January the county had asked state lawmakers to consider that would have provided the ability to set up the transit authority.

MEDICAL POT PLANT: Easton’s planning officer Lynn Thomas decided a medical cannabis growing facility is an acceptable use of the old Black & Decker building off the state Route 322 bypass, reports Josh Bollinger for the Easton Start Democrat.

FAREWELL GAZETTES: Jeffrey Lyles of the Gazette interviews Montgomery and Prince George’s county residents and business owners about the closing of the Gazette newspapers.