State Roundup, December 22, 2015

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NAACP SUES OVER RED LINE: The NAACP on Monday filed a federal civil rights complaint against Maryland, alleging that the state discriminated against African American residents in Baltimore when Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line rail project and diverted state money to road and bridge projects elsewhere, Ovetta Wiggins and Bill Turque report for the Post.

  • The NAACP  and the ACLU of Maryland are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch an investigation into cancellation, complaining that “rather than being a cost-saving measure, (it) was simply a naked transfer of resources from the project corridor’s primarily African-American population to other rural and suburban parts of the state,” the complaint says. The east-west rail line would have extended 14 miles between Woodlawn and Bayview, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun.
  • The project, designed to connect the east and west sides of Baltimore with a rapid transit system, was in development for more than 15 years and expected to create 10,000 jobs before Gov. Larry Hogan announced the cancellation of the project in June, citing cost concerns, according to the complaint. Hogan made clear his opposition to the Red Line during his successful gubernatorial campaign, writes Heather Cobun for the Daily Record.

NEXT STEPS TOWARD RX POT: People who want to buy marijuana in Maryland for medicinal purposes are probably going to have to wait until 2017, nearly four years after the state made it legal, reports Fenit Nirappil for the Post.

HOGAN VETO OVERRIDE?: The AP’s Brian Witte reports that Maryland’s Senate president said Monday he’s confident Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill designed to ensure that third-party travel websites pay all of the state’s sales tax is headed toward an override vote. Mike Miller said  that there are enough Senate votes to override the Republican governor’s veto when the legislative session begins next month.

STATE TAX FRAUD RISING: CNS’s Neomi Eide reports on state tax refund fraud, and how it has hit people such as Roberta Roper, founder of the Stephanie Roper victims’ advocacy group, and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. Legislation may be coming before the General Assembly to address the issue. The article appears in MarylandReporter.com.

AUDIT CHIDES SCHOOL FOR DEAF: Jeremy Bauer-Wolf of the Frederick News-Post reports that a state audit released Monday found that the Maryland School for the Deaf did not follow proper procedures in its monitoring of school purchasing cards, and did not maintain accurate records for its inventory of equipment.  The two issues pinpointed in the financial review by the state Office of Legislative Audits have either been corrected or are soon to be fixed, according to a written response from the school. The audit revealed no financial misconduct.

ATHLETICS SUBSIDIZED AT UMD: A Capital News Service analysis of Big Ten schools’ athletic department finances found that Big Ten schools consistently generate more net revenue than other NCAA programs, while relying on significantly less in subsidies from state governments and university budgets to fund athletic programs. But Maryland and Rutgers, the analysis found, are exceptions. Both schools remain very dependent on state and student subsidies to fund athletic programs. The graphic analysis runs in MarylandReporter.com

JUSTICE & 2016 SESSION: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record joins Marc Steiner of WEAA-FM to talk about police accountability, drug laws and alternatives to incarceration as we head into the 2016 General Assembly session and Steiner’s annual Annapolis Summit, kicking off the whole shebang.

HELPING BALTIMORE CITY: In this eight-minute video, House Speaker Michael Busch sits down with Center Maryland to announce that he will push for a comprehensive legislative package that will address Baltimore City’s challenges and take advantage of critical opportunities.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday announced a new effort to provide monthly age-appropriate book mailings for Baltimore City children younger than 6, writes Josh Hicks in the Post. Tennessee is the only other state to partner with the Imagination Library initiative, a child literacy program started by country singer Dolly Parton. Seven Maryland counties have their own partnerships, as does Baltimore City, but Baltimore’s was reaching only a handful of children, so the Hogan administration decided to launch a state-run effort to involve more city families.

PROGRESSIVES BACK RASKIN: State Sen. Jamie Raskin picked up the endorsement Monday of the political arm of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in his bid for a House seat — an important stamp of approval in a race where most of the Democratic candidates are claiming the mantle of progressive politics, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

MO’M STUMPS IN MD: Martin O’Malley will hold a handful of campaign events in Maryland next month — among the first scheduled in his home state since he launched his presidential bid in Federal Hill in May, writes John Fritze for the Sun. The events, which are partly being billed as “send offs” ahead of the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa, are an indication that the former two-term Maryland governor intends to stay in the race at least through next month.