State Roundup, September 28, 2015

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CLEARING THEIR RECORDS: Under new state laws that take effect Thursday, many more Marylanders will be able to clear minor charges from their records — and, officials say, fare better in the employment market, Alison Knezevich reports in the Sun. The legislation, approved this year by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly and signed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, is part of a national reassessment of the tough-on-crime, mass-arrest mentality of the 1990s and 2000s, in light of the far-reaching consequences it has had on many communities.

BODY CAM RECOMMENDATIONS: The lone recommendation in the final report of a state commission on best practices for the use of police body cameras has led to concerns about access to public records, Bryan Sears writes for the Daily Record. The 19-page report, posted on the commission’s website, contains 16 best practices meant to guide the Maryland Police Training Commission in the creation of a uniform set of rules governing the use of cameras by police departments across the state. But the commission “strongly recommends to the General Assembly of Maryland that it consider forthwith amending the Maryland Public Information Act” with an eye toward restricting public access to videos showing victims of violent crime or domestic abuse.

HOGAN TAKES RAVENS FIELD FOR CANCER AWARENESS: We’re coming to the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month and Gov. Larry Hogan has played a big role in these campaigns. As most Marylanders are aware, Hogan was diagnosed with late stage 3 non-Hodgkins lymphoma in June. That’s an extremely serious but treatable disease in most cases, Barry Rascovar writes in MarylandReporter.com.

MIKULSKI WARNS ON PURPLE LINE FUNDING: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said this week that Republicans in Congress risk derailing plans for Maryland’s light-rail Purple Line if they don’t lift spending caps that could limit the federal money available for the project, Josh Hicks reports for the Post.

  • Even though Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has committed to build a $2 billion light-rail Purple Line in the Washington suburbs, there remains a looming question: How many people will ride it?, Katherine Shaver writes in the Post. The state’s predictions have grown over the years — at one point, the number jumped by 45 percent. But how those numbers were calculated, and how realistic they are, remains a mystery to the taxpayers who will pay for the 16-mile line linking Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. The predictions stem from highly technical and complex computer models that few transit experts say they truly understand.

HOUGH, CILIBERTI STIR PLANNED PARENTHOOD DEBATE: The editorial board of the Frederick News Post writes that Sen. Michael Hough and Del. Barrie Ciliberti are joining the Center for Medical Progress in doing a little twisting of their own to bring the national debate over abortion down to the state and local level, and no doubt stoke their supporters’ outrage. They’re relying on us taking the Center for Medical Progress’ claims over “Black Market in Baby Parts” as authentic and trustworthy — even though it’s becoming increasingly clear that the videos have been heavily doctored.

Kathy Szeliga

Kathy Szeliga. (Photo by Phil Tran on Szeliga’s Facebook page.)

SZELIGA GROWS U.S. SENATE CAMPAIGN: Del. Kathy Szeliga, the minority whip in the House of Delegates from Baltimore County, is building a campaign for U.S. Senate, giving some state GOP leaders hope that the party can compete for the seat now held by retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski, John Fritze reports in the Sun

WIDOW ENDORSED FOR DEL. PROCTOR’S SEAT: The answer to the question of who will fill the District 27A delegate seat left vacant by the Sept. 10 death of Del. James E. Proctor grew a bit clearer Saturday afternoon as U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer and Del. Michael Jackson, who represents Dist. 27B, endorsed Proctor’s wife, Susie Proctor, to fill the seat, Joel Davis reports for the Charles Independent.

HANCOCK EMBRACES RX POT FACILITY: CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes that as a medical-marijuana cultivator gets ready to make application to the state, Hancock residents and town officials this past week reaffirmed their support of the operation that could bring much-needed employment opportunities to a job-starved community including creating about 125 jobs, bringing back vital employment opportunities for the town of roughly 1,500 people, and pumping millions of dollars in private investment and wages back into the local economy.

MARYLAND JOINS VW PROBE: At least 27 state attorneys general, including Maryland’s, are opening a multi-state investigation into Volkswagen after it came clean about rigging diesel emissions technology to pass U.S. smog tests, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

RODRICKS: SEND MONEY, NOT A BULLDOZER: In a column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks writes that now that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has decided not to seek re-election, Gov. Larry Hogan has come around again, expressing a desire to help the city. That’s great. But, please, sir, just send money, not a bulldozer. Talk of knocking down “blocks of derelict buildings” makes the governor sound like that guy at the backyard barbecue. He should know better. While some whole blocks might need to go, many with vacant rowhouses also have homes that are owner-occupied.

MARYLAND FLAG AS MARKETING TOOL: The gaudy reds and golds of the Maryland state flag have leapt in recent years from the flagpole to T-shirts, koozies, swimsuits and a host of other products that Lord Baltimore himself never could have imagined. A handful of companies are riding a wave of interest in state flag-themed products and items that allude to Baltimore or Maryland culture, such as images of crabs, Carrie Wells writes in the Sun.

O’MALLEY’S FURNITURE DEAL: Doug Donovan of the Sun writes that the furnishings that former Gov. Martin O’Malley purchased from the governor’s mansion for a fraction of their cost were not the only items of interest as he was about to leave office. There’s also a conference table …

BAKER BACKS IVEY: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III endorsed Glenn Ivey’s bid for the 4th Congressional District on Friday, backing a longtime family friend over a former lieutenant governor and a half dozen other Democratic candidates, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING RALLY: Hundreds of parents, teachers and students gathered Saturday near Lake Montebello in Baltimore City to show their support for charter schools. The Maryland Alliance of Public Charter Schools organized the rally after Baltimore school officials proposed a budget formula that would have reduced funding at 26 of the district’s 34 charter schools, Jessica Anderson reports for the Sun.

VAN HOLLEN WEIGHS IN ON VOTING SITE MOVE: U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen on Friday urged the Maryland State Board of Elections to reject a decision to replace early voting locations in Burtonsville and Chevy Chase with sites in less-densely populated Brookeville and Potomac, Aaron Kraut reports in Bethesda Beat.

BOLSTERING LIVING WAGE LAW: Two Montgomery County Council members plan to introduce legislation to bolster what they say are weaknesses in enforcement of the county’s “living wage” law, Bill Turque reports in the Post. The law, passed in 2002, requires that approximately 400 companies providing services to the county — including janitorial, cleaning and landscaping work — pay employees enough to make ends meet in a region where living costs are high. The rate, adjusted annually based on changes in the consumer price index, is currently $14.35 an hour.

ON ROGER BROOKE TANEY: An upcoming symposium organized by the Historical Society of Frederick County seeks to turn the one-dimensional perception of Roger Brooke Taney as only the father of the Dred Scott Decision on its head. As its name suggests, “The Many Layers of Roger Brooke Taney” — a two-day event — will explore Taney’s legacy beyond that infamous decision, one that conflicts directly with some of Taney’s earlier work, Nancy Lavin writes in the Frederick News Post.