August 7, 2015

State Roundup, August 7, 2015

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DEMS POO-POO HOGAN REDISTRICTING REFORM: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday waded into the heated national debate over how to draw congressional boundaries — appointing a commission to explore ways to strip that power from elected leaders, even as the Democrats who control the state legislature vowed to resist, Josh Hick reports for the Post.

  • Hogan said he hopes to put a constitutional amendment before voters in 2016 to change the way the maps are drawn,Michael Dresser reports in the Sun. The idea won immediate praise from election reform advocates such as Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, but it was quickly dismissed by Democrats who control the General Assembly. “It’s not going to happen,” Senate President  Mike Miller said.
  • Hogan said the 11-member commission would work through the year looking at ways to move the state toward an independent process for the decennial reapportionment of state legislative and congressional districts, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. “When it comes to the right answers, fair elections are perhaps the most basic promise that those in power can offer to our citizens,” Hogan said.
  • John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that Hogan said, “This is not a Republican, Democrat thing. I mean there are a lot of very liberal Democratic groups who feel exactly as I do.”  Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, says, “This is a huge step forward toward a more fair, democratic process for Maryland. Redistricting has been the embarrassment of the state for far too long, and we are very excited to see the Governor taking the lead in turning that around.”

HOGAN BEGINS CHEMO ROUND 3: Gov. Larry Hogan will return to the University of Maryland hospital Friday to begin a new five-day round of 24-hour chemotherapy to treat his cancer, reports Michael Dresser of the Sun. Hogan mentioned his plan Wednesday at a meeting of the Board of Public Works, and a spokesman confirmed Thursday night that his plans had not changed.

COP PSYCH EVAL FIRM UNDER REVIEW: Investigations launched by three agencies into a psychological firm tasked with assessing the mental health of Baltimore’s police, including an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, are raising questions about whether officers are adequately screened for psychological issues before being placed on active duty.  The Maryland State Police, which also holds a contract with the firm, has already taken action, placing the firm on probation in June after an investigation showed it was completing evaluations of officers’ mental stability in 15 minutes instead of the 45 minutes required by the state contract, according to an AP story in the Daily Record.

HUMANTRAFFICKING PART 6 A COMPLEX APARTMENT PROBLEM: Part 6 of Capital News Service’s five-day series on human trafficking in Maryland focuses on the Langley Park community, where the mix of apartment complexes and a large community of non-English speaking immigrants makes it difficult for law enforcement to track down the prostitution problem.

TAX FREE SHOPPING: As the summer nears its final days and schools prepare for students and staff filling the hallways, Comptroller Peter Franchot is encouraging communities to take advantage of Maryland’s tax-free week. The annual tax-free shopping week begins Sunday, Aug. 9, and goes through Saturday, Aug. 15, Mike Davis reports for the Easton Star Democrat.

FREDERICK-CENTRIC RACES: There are at least three races besides the presidential one that Frederick County should care about. U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Baltimore who started as a  congresswoman in 1977, is retiring from her post, putting that seat up for grabs. Jen Fifield outlines who is running for Congress for districts that represent Frederick County’s District 6 and District 8. The districts split the county in half — if you live within Frederick city limits or south of the city, you’re in District 6. If you live west, north or east of the city of Frederick, you’re in District 8.

EDWARDS URGES DEM HOPEFULS TO COURT AFRICAN AMERICANS: Senate candidate Donna Edwards said Thursday that the Democratic presidential field should be doing more to court African American voters and connect them to national progressive policies, John Fritze reports in the Sun. Edwards, who is vying to replace retiring Sen. Barbara  Mikulski, said that the presidential candidates should be more aggressively tying national Democratic priorities, such as Wall Street reform, back to communities of color.

TANEY BUST MAY BE MOVED: The bronze bust of an iconic pro-slavery figure with ties to Frederick could be removed from its post outside Frederick City Hall under a proposal from Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak. Kuzemchak detailed Thursday a plan to relocate the bust of Roger Brooke Taney from outside City Hall to a museum or other location, writes Nancy Lavin for the Frederick News Post.

CORRECTION:  In yesterday’s roundup, we referred to a Frederick News Post reporter by the wrong name. Her name is Marissa Horn. Thanks to Andrew Schotz for pointing out the error.