August 14, 2015

State Roundup, August 14, 2015

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HOGAN  DECISION PROTESTED: Dozens of people of all ages marched around the iron fence surrounding the governor’s mansion in Annapolis on Thursday, protesting Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to notify federal immigration officials when an illegal immigrant targeted for deportation is released from the state-run Baltimore City Detention Center, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post.

OFFICIALS PRESS ON RED LINE INFO: Members of Baltimore’s congressional delegation are pressing Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration for detail about how much money the state will save by ditching the Red Line project, and why none of those savings are headed for transportation projects in the city. John Fritze reports in the Sun that in a letter to the governor’s office Thursday, five members of Congress — all Democrats — have asked the Republican governor how much federal money the state plans to forgo by canceling the Red Line and also how the state intends to fund other projects it has planned for Baltimore transit in coming years.

BEYOND RED LINE — NOTHING: Fraser Smith, opining at WYPR-FM, asks: Were the Democrats really expecting a Hogan administration vision for transit? If so, shame on them. Beyond buses, it’s clear the Hogan team has no vision. There was no suggestion of anything at all beyond buses.  First the governor killed the Red Line. He suggested nothing in its place. Then he parceled out the Red Line savings to parts of the state that voted for him. This week the administration hosted Democratic leaders at what they apparently thought would be a Red Line replacement meeting. Did they really? Wrong.

PG MAY PONY UP $20M MORE FOR PURPLE LINE: Prince George’s County has tentatively agreed to commit an additional $20 million to finance the Purple Line in exchange for assurances from state transportation officials that construction will begin within its borders and the command center be built there, writes Arelis Hernández for the Post.

HEALING STATE’S FISCAL HEALTH: Randolph May of the Free State Foundation writes in MarylandReporter.com that  the election last November of Gov. Larry Hogan was a welcome sign that Marylanders recognize that the state’s fiscal health was poor – the result of too much unrestrained spending leading to too much debt. The election confirmed that Maryland’s citizens wanted a change of direction. Since he took office, Hogan already has taken some positive steps to improve Maryland’s budgetary situation – and he needs the help of the legislature to do more.

SAME-SEX ADULTERY: With marriage equality comes divorce equality, write Jessica Anderson and Colin Campbell of the Sun. To clear up a murky area of state law, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has written a legal opinion that says cheating by spouses in same-sex marriages can also be considered adultery. The opinion might seem superfluous, but for those couples struggling in an unfaithful marriage, the opinion is important when it comes to filing for divorce. A spouse, including one from a same-sex couple, clearly can now file for divorce over adultery

DISTRICTING REFORM IN MD & VA: Two governors have the same problem: Their states are heavily gerrymandered, giving one party a disproportionate share of seats in the state legislature and Congress. Both governors want to create independent redistricting commissions that would draw fairer districts. But both states’ legislatures are virulently opposed to the idea. Here’s the catch: The governors are from different parties. In Virginia, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is trying to convince a Republican legislature to give up its control over redistricting. Across the Potomac in Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is trying to sell his state’s Democratic legislature on the same idea, Samantha Lachman writes in the Huffington Post.

POT PANEL TO AVOID ZONING ISSUES: The director of Maryland’s medical marijuana commission said the panel will not get involved in local zoning issues on where cannabis growing and dispensing facilities can be located, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Hannah L. Byron told county officials from around the state that the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission would not develop regulations related to local zoning but would likely take into account whether an applicant for a license had county approval when making preliminary decisions as early as late December.

POT LESSONS: County officials from across Maryland packed an information session in Ocean City Thursday, seeking guidance now that entrepreneurs are scouting locations to grow and sell marijuana for medical use, report Michael Dresser and Pamela Wood for the Sun. “If it’s coming, I want to be as knowledgeable and prepared as I can be,” said Michael Hewitt, a St. Mary’s County commissioner who was among 200 people who attended the session at the Maryland Association of Counties summer convention.

BIKE-CAR ACCIDENTS: Amy Reinink writes in Bethesda Magazine that according to a Montgomery County report released in late 2014, there were 613 reported bicycle-vehicle collisions from 2009 to 2013, and the driver was at fault in 52% of them. The statistics underscore a relationship between cyclists and drivers that can be tense at best and vicious at worst.

ON EHRLICH, RASCOVAR & RED LINE: Center Maryland columnist Laslo Boyd, fresh from a vacation out west, opines about a few of the news items that occurred while he was away, including former Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s announcement that he would not run for president (this is news?), Barry Rascovar’s dustup with the Hogan administration and the governor’s views on the Red Line.

RASKIN ROLLS OUT WOMEN SUPPORTERS: Facing a Democratic primary field that includes a well-funded woman as a rival, state Sen. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park is moving aggressively to accumulate and highlight support from women voters in his bid to represent the 8th District in Congress, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Beat.  “Women for Jamie” announced its launch late Wednesday by publishing the names of more than 260 members; organizers say they are seeking to add to that number in advance of a Sept. 27 kickoff rally and fundraiser at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.

EDWARDS STUMPS IN EASTON: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, one of the main contenders vying for Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat once she retires after her term expires, kicked off her statewide 2016 U.S. Senate election campaign in Easton on Thursday, Aug. 13. Edwards, a Democrat who has represented Maryland’s 4th District in portions of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2008, met with local Mid-Shore Democratic leaders in Easton to hear about what issues matter to them, Josh Bollinger reports for the Easton Star Democrat.

O’MALLEY LAYS OUT GOALS AS PRESIDENT: Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley would seek to increase the median net worth of American families by $25,000 over a decade, his campaign said Thursday — part of a series of 15 goals the former Maryland governor is unveiling in Iowa. O’Malley outlined the goals at the Iowa State Fair, an established campaign stop for presidential hopefuls. The goals also include full employment for veterans and an end to childhood hunger by 2020.

O’MALLEY DEFENDS CAMPAIGN LAUNCH: Lagging in the polls and struggling to raise money, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley insists he doesn’t regret waiting until late spring to launch his candidacy — after U.S. Bernie Sanders’ crowds had started to swell and Hillary Clinton had survived initial criticism over her private e-mail account and her family’s foundation, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.