State Roundup, September 18, 2015

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SCHUH SEES PUSHBACK ON POT STAND: Arundel County Exec Steve Schuh’s proposal to prohibit medical marijuana from being grown, produced and sold in the county has caught the attention of state lawmakers who disagree — including some of the county executive’s closest Republican allies, reports Rema Rahman for the Capital Gazette. The most vocal criticism came from the chairman of Maryland’s Senate Judiciary Proceedings Committee, Democrat Bobby Zirkin of Reisterstown, called it “both disappointing and baffling.”

  • Zirkin, in an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital, writes that “As a member of the House of Delegates, Mr. Schuh voted against medical marijuana and to continue making possession of small amounts of marijuana an offense punishable by months in jail. In combination with his current stance, if Mr. Schuh has his way, citizens of Anne Arundel County and across our state with debilitating diseases … would continue to be forced to choose between obtaining helpful medication and being a criminal.”
  • Sun columnist Dan Rodricks takes Schuh to task over his stand against allowing a marijuana industry to get off the ground in Anne Arundel County, writing “here’s Schuh, playing the ol’ Reefer Madness card: ‘The quantities that are allowed to be dispensed under the current Maryland law are rather frightening to me. We don’t want to have a situation where everyone who is prescribed medical marijuana is in effect a little miniature dealer.’ “

HANCOCK MEETS ON POT PROPOSAL: There were mixed reactions in Hancock Thursday night from among some of the nearly 50 people who attended an informational town hall meeting about the potential for a medical-marijuana growing operation in the western Washington County town. The chief executive officer and other employees of Harvest Inc., a firm with medical cannabis licenses in three other states, spoke with town residents about their plans to build a cultivation and production facility in Hancock, Carlee Lammer writes in the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

‘SECRET’ PANEL GETS AIRING: A state panel described as secret by one Maryland architect was dragged into the light during a meeting of a governor’s commission tasked with reforming the state regulatory code, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Architect John F. Corkill Jr. said the Overlapping Practice Panel within the Department of Licensing Labor and Regulations delays projects and causes unnecessary expenses related to development projects because it can require the use of an engineer on some plans that up until 2002 could be done by those within his profession.

SRB, HOGAN MEET: Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake met for half an hour in Annapolis Thursday afternoon at the governor’s request, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. The two discussed economic development projects, transit, and security issues in advance of the upcoming trials of six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a spokesman for Hogan said.

DATA CONTRACT ON HOLD: The state’s spending board this week put on hold a contract for mapping software, which drove much of the “data-driven” government style that has earned accolades for former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat. The company that won a sole-source, $3.8 million bid to do work for the state back in 2011 while O’Malley was governor and later hired him to give speeches when he left office. O’Malley aides, meanwhile, say that the company first started working for Maryland in the 1970s, writes Erin Cox in the Sun.

CHANGING MARYLAND: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that few like it when government rummages around in their pockets, so no one should be surprised Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement Tuesday that he will cut or eliminate more than 100 state fees drew praise from many quarters. This fulfilled a campaign promise by the Republican from Anne Arundel County, a tax-averse jurisdiction where the news will undoubtedly fit well with the governor’s image as a champion of less burdensome government. Congratulations are due for a good first step in fulfilling his promise to “Change Maryland.”

HOGAN IN 5th ROUND OF CHEMO: Gov. Larry Hogan heads back to the hospital Friday for his fifth round of chemotherapy to treat stage 3 lymphatic cancer, but there’s no respite for his staff during his five-day stays, writes Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com.

NO ETHICS PROBE ON O’MALLEY FURNITURE BUY: The Maryland State Ethics Commission will not launch an inquiry related to former governor Martin O’Malley’s purchase of furniture from the governor’s mansion in Annapolis, according to a statement Thursday night from the state Attorney General’s office, John Wagner of the Post is reporting.

BAN THE PLASTIC BAG: Banning the plastic bag would be a great thing for Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to do, writes Dan Rodricks, a columnist for the Sun. But he adds, it would also be a great thing for Gov. Larry Hogan to undertake since the bags are a menace to the environment.

ERVIN ENDS RUN FOR CONGRESS: Former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin told supporters Thursday she will no longer run for the open 8th District congressional seat, Aaron Kraut and Louis Peck report in Bethesda Beat.

O’MALLEY ON POT: Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley is promising immediate change on marijuana policy if he takes office — even as he met with pot workers in Colorado who could be out of business if O’Malley carries out his plans, according to an AP story in the Cumberland Times News.

OBJECTIONS GROW TO CHICKEN FARMS: In a county where chickens outnumber humans more than 500 to 1, people have begun fighting back. About 50 of them gathered Wednesday night to rail against the rise of “factory farms” in Somerset County and rally support for local legislation to protect the health of neighbors and agricultural workers, Jeremy Cox reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.

  • Supporters of a movement to stop the growth of industrial poultry houses on the Delmarva Peninsula met at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Richard A. Henson Center on Wednesday, Sept. 16, to openly discuss the matter. All who spoke at the forum had some objection to what some of the environmental organizations behind the movement are calling an “unprecedented expansion” of the poultry industry, although industry professionals disagree with that opinion, Josh Bollinger reports for the Easton Star Democrat.

MO CO PESTICIDE BAN BILL AMENDED: A three-member Montgomery County Council committee approved Thursday an amended version of a controversial pesticide bill that eliminates many of the original legislation’s significant elements, Andrew Metcalf reports in Bethesda Beat.

GROWING FREDERICK: Frederick County is starting to grow faster, surpassing the growth rates of other counties in the state, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data released Thursday. Kelsi Loos and Jen Fifield of the Frederick News Post report that the county went from being the seventh-fastest-growing county in the state to the fifth-fastest, according to the bureau’s “2014 American Community Survey 1-year Estimates.” These estimates are released every year to update demographic information about the United States.

JOBS ON THE LINE: Don Fry writes in Center Maryland that since Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line community groups, elected officials, local transit experts and others continue to ask the question, “What should we do next?” “For the past 13 years I’ve said the Red Line held the potential to reinvigorate the Baltimore economy, provided east-west connectivity and access to jobs for thousands who are transit dependent, and deservedly was viewed as a ‘jobs line.’ Now that other transit options are being debated to replace the Red Line plan, it’s important to stay focused in this discussion on the fact that mass transit is a vital link to jobs.”

RODRICKS TO LEAVE ‘MIDDAY:’ The Daily Record is reporting that Dan Rodricks announced Thursday that he will leave “Midday,” the daily two-hour talk show on WYPR, Baltimore’s National Public Radio affiliate. Rodricks will focus exclusively on his column in the Baltimore Sun as well as his newly launched blog and other projects.