State Roundup, December 10, 2015

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From left, Sen. President Miller, Gov. Hogan and House Speaker Busch. Video by Ovetta Wiggins, the Washington Post.

From left, Sen. President Miller, Gov. Hogan and House Speaker Busch. Video by Ovetta Wiggins, the Washington Post.

IN TUNE FOR THE SESSION?: Before we get to the news, let’s start off with a bit of Christmas cheer: Take a gander (volume on for full effect) at the video of Gov. Larry Hogan, House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller singing “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” You won’t be able to un-hear it. Thanks to Ovetta Wiggins of the Post. If this is harmony, then expect some off-key notes during the upcoming session.

AFSCME TO PROTEST: Gov. Larry Hogan will host the annual holiday party for state employees Thursday afternoon at the governor’s mansion. But outside Government House, members of the state’s largest public employee union, AFSCME, plan on protesting what they say is the administration’s failure to negotiate a new contract or respond to any union proposals, despite a Dec. 31 deadline in state law, Len Lazarick reports in MarylandReporter.com.

ALCOHOL TAX TIED TO DROP IN STD: Sexually transmitted diseases didn’t factor heavily into the debate when state lawmakers approved an increase in the sales tax on alcohol four years ago. But research published Wednesday suggests a surprising consequence to the levy: thousands of fewer cases of gonorrhea, Scott Dance reports in the Sun.

NUMBERS IN JUVIE JAIL DROP: A decline in the number of juveniles securely detained in Maryland is expected to continue, thanks to ongoing modifications and tools in use by the state’s Department of Juvenile Services to standardize the intake process, Erin Serpico of Capital News Service reports.

STATE GRANTS AID DRUG ENFORCEMENT: Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, who is out to make life more difficult for drug traffickers, has gotten some help from Annapolis. Tamela Baker reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail that Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday unveiled grants of $91,760 to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and $125,000 to Maryland State Police to find and prosecute drug traffickers, as well as to help people already addicted get help.

REASONABLE IDEA OR PANDERING? At first glance, writes Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland, it seemed like a reasonable statement, very much in keeping with the general image that Larry Hogan has projected since becoming governor.  Who, after all, would argue with the assertion that gun control is “not the only solution” to the kind of tragedy that occurred in San Bernadino, California last week? A second look at Hogan’s comment makes it seem more like callous political pandering than a thoughtful contribution to a desperately needed national dialogue.

HOSPITAL JOBS TO RISE: State regulators approved a compromise job-creation program Wednesday that’s expected to create about 375 hospital jobs for residents of impoverished areas in Baltimore and across Maryland, Daniel Leaderman writes in the Daily Record.

ON BYRD STADIUM NAME CHANGE: Sheilah Kast of WYPR hosts a program on the proposal to change the name of the University of Maryland’s Byrd Stadium. UM President Wallace Loh has recommended the renaming of College Park’s football venue because Byrd was an avowed segregationist. To many Harry  Byrd is a home state hero; for others he is an outspoken racist. Is the change is warranted, or simply political correctness run amok?

WITNESS PROTECTION: Two Maryland Democrats introduced legislation Wednesday to create short-term, locally based witness protection programs for cases involving homicides and other violent crimes, John Fritze of the Sun writes. The measure would set aside $150 million in federal grants to establish the programs. Witness intimidation has long been an issue in the Baltimore City judicial system.

FIRING PROMPTS LAWSUIT: A former prosecutor has alleged Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby violated her constitutional rights by firing her for having backed Mosby’s political rival and predecessor, Gregg L. Bernstein, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

SCHUH SHAKES UP ETHICS PANEL: The next appointment to the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission is up for grabs as Democrats and Republicans vie for control of the panel, Rema Rahman is writing in the Annapolis Capital. Republican County Executive Steve Schuh said his rationale for wanting more members of his party was to fulfill the will of voters who gave the GOP a majority of local public offices during the last election.

CARROLL TO SHUT THREE SCHOOLS: To the disappointment of many in attendance, the Carroll County Board of Education voted 4-1 Wednesday night to move forward with schools Superintendent Stephen Guthrie’s proposal to shutter three schools next year, after hearing a final round of feedback from community members urging to delay closures, Lauren Loricchio reports in the Carroll County Times.

FREDERICK MOMS SEEK GUN LAWS: Mike Persley of the Frederick News Post writes that, just over a week after two people in San Bernardino, Calif., walked into a government building and shot and killed 14 people, a group of Frederick County mothers is heading to Washington to pressure federal lawmakers to change the nation’s gun laws. Carrie Larson said she’s tired of hearing excuses while there’s one mass shooting after another. She imagines her own kids at risk every time there’s another shooting, she said.