June 24, 2015

State Roundup, June 24, 2015

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HOGAN SIGNALS CONFEDERATE SYMBOL BAN: Maryland efforts to eliminate symbols that many people perceive as racist gained momentum Tuesday, with Gov. Larry Hogan signaling plans to end the use of the Confederate battle flag on vehicle tags and a progressive group starting a petition to take down other reminders of past inequality, Josh Hicks of the Post is reporting.

RUTHERFORD HEADS BPW: Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford came down hard on state department spending Tuesday as he covered for Gov. Larry Hogan at the first Board of Public Works meeting since the governor announced he was starting treatment for cancer. “I was one of those few government people who always felt I should spend less than the budget,” Rutherford said. Rebecca Lessner writes the story for MarylandReporter.com.

THE NEW NORMAL: Before Rutherford chaired the Board of Public Works meeting, he and Hogan met in the governor’s mansion to discuss hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts that were up for review. It was the beginning of a new normal for Hogan and Rutherford and the first day of a new governing reality in Annapolis, one in which Hogan must balance running the state with the effects of a life-threatening illness and brutal treatment regimen, either of which could render him incapable of governing, writes Ovetta Wiggins.

PERSONAL, MEDICAL REACTION TO HOGAN NEWS: Although Hogan was not in attendance, it was felt at the meeting since many were wearing the lime green ribbons, which symbolize the fight against lymphoma, writes Michael Dresser of the Sun.

Praying for Hogan

A handmade sign outside the front gate to Government House, the governor’s residence in Annapolis, says: “Praying for you governor. Maryland loves & needs you.”

LAWMAKERS ADDRESS POVERTY ISSUES: Calling for a renewed effort to eliminate poverty, federal lawmakers met Tuesday in Baltimore to discuss underlying issues they said contributed to the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent riots: racism, lack of economic opportunity and disparities in education, John Fritze reports in the Sun. “The death of Freddie Gray turned the nation’s eyes to the city,” said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat who helped organize the University of Baltimore forum, which drew members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Joint Economic Committee.

  • Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen heard from a group of policy experts about discriminatory policies that they said helped fuel those disparities and about possible solutions. But they also heard from community members, who questioned the value of such gatherings when so little has changed in their lives. “We have a lot of fancy forums, town halls and galas,” said the co-founder of the local group 300 Men March. “There is a disconnect, and there is a false sense of leadership.”

GRAY AUTOPSY: Freddie Gray suffered a single “high-energy injury” to his neck and spine — most likely caused when the police van in which he was riding suddenly decelerated, according to a copy of the autopsy report obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Justin Fenton reports that the state medical examiner’s office concluded that Gray’s death could not be ruled an accident, and was instead a homicide, because officers failed to follow safety procedures “through acts of omission.”

EDWARDS PICKS UP LABOR SUPPORT: U.S. Rep. Donna F. Edwards on Tuesday earned the endorsement of a local electrical engineers union in her Senate bid, writes John Fritze of the Sun. “Whether it’s on picket lines with workers or in the halls of Congress, Donna has consistently put Maryland families first, regardless of which direction the political winds are blowing,” Chuck Graham, president of IBEW Local 26 said in a statement.

PAID SICK LEAVE IN MONTGOMERY: The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a bill that will require most employers doing business in the county to provide earned sick and safe leave to employees for work performed in the county, MyMC Media reports. Enactment of the bill makes Montgomery County one of the few local jurisdictions in the nation to have some form of required sick and safe leave requirements for employees.

TRUMP STUMPS: There were no golden escalators and no paid actors. But even without props, Donald Trump knows how to put on a show. John Fritze of the Sun writes that the billionaire real estate mogul, who entered the race for the GOP presidential nomination this month, told state Republicans in Linthicum on Tuesday night that his background as a negotiator and businessman makes him the most qualified candidate to “take back our jobs,” “take back our money” and “take back our country.”

PEROUTKA HANGS WITH CONSTITUTION PARTY: Michael Peroutka may be known as one of four Republicans on the Anne Arundel County Council, but he hasn’t cut ties with his former Constitution Party. Though Councilman Peroutka, R-Millersville, has been away from his district for a few days, he was recently spotted on social media in a photograph taken at a political event over 800 miles away, writes Elisha Sauers for the Annapolis Capital.