State Roundup, December 24, 2015

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MAYOR BACKS NAACP HOGAN COMPLAINT: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday said she supports the federal complaint filed by a coalition of civil rights groups against the Hogan administration, contending that its killing of Baltimore’s Red Line light rail project discriminates against African-Americans, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM ON AGENDA: According to an AP report at WJZ-TV, top leaders in Maryland’s legislature and aides to Gov. Larry Hogan say criminal justice reform and battling urban decay and other problems in Baltimore will be top priorities in the upcoming legislative session.

LEAD PAINT REMAINS AN ISSUE: Moved to address the continuing poisoning of Maryland children by the paint in their homes, Baltimore legislators plan to seek legislation aimed at holding manufacturers of the lead pigment once used in house paint liable for the lasting health damage caused by the products they sold decades ago, Tim Wheeler of the Sun is reporting. Wheeler has cleaned out his desk at the Sun and will be, as he wrote on his Facebook page, “moving on to try a new brand of journalism.” His excellent environmental reporting will be missed here.

POT PANEL DELAYS GROW LICENSES: The state marijuana commission has delayed until summer announcement of businesses that will be licensed to grow the plant. The commission originally planned to announce the recipients of 15 licenses in January. Peak Harvest Health, a medical cannabis growing business, hopes to locate in Cumberland’s Riverside Industrial Park. If granted a license, the company expects to employ up to 100 people by 2020, Greg Larry reports for the Cumberland Times News.

FOR GOOD POT LAWS: The editorial board for the Annapolis Capital opines that marijuana is likely to be prominent on the state’s agenda in 2016, with debates about the local implementation of last year’s state law legalizing cannabis for medical use, and more general issues revolving around decriminalization will be back before the General Assembly. But for now, the Anne Arundel County Council has acted responsibly on the issue — and probably, in the bargain, saved County Executive Steve Schuh from a major mistake.

  • With apologies to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Delmarva is getting its first dance with Mary Jane. Its first legal dance, anyway, opines the editorial board for the Salisbury Daily Times. Rarely a week goes by without news of medical cannabis — legally grown marijuana — being considered for location in towns like Snow Hill and Hebron. With the University of Maryland Eastern Shore partnering with Wellness Farms on a program for medical cannabis study, there is every hope that the project will earn one of 15 cannabis grower licenses awarded next summer.

108 CREATURES ADDED TO RISK LIST: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says climate change and other factors are putting more wildlife at risk, reports the AP’s David Dishneau at WTOP-AM. The agency released part of a draft State Wildlife Action Plan on Tuesday. It adds a net 108 creatures to a list of species in greatest need of conservation, bringing the total to 610. Newly added are the American mink, the ruffed grouse and six kinds of bats.

UNCLAIMED PROPERTY OF THE FAMOUS: Ray Rice, Nancy Kopp, the University of Maryland and Carmelo Anthony aren’t just famous Maryland entities — they’ve all left behind valuables or cash in banks or financial organizations, and the state can’t find them to return it, reports CNS’s Darcy Costello in the Cecil Whig. These unclaimed property items, which all together total more than $1 billion, were returned to the state by financial institutions, businesses or banking organizations after owners failed to claim their property. The comptroller’s office makes an effort to reunite owners with their lost property.

B’MORE ON BOARD WITH OBAMA: Baltimore joined other U.S. cities Tuesday in defending the Obama administration’s efforts to regulate climate-altering carbon emissions from power plants. More than a dozen cities, along with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of the administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” reports Tim Wheeler for the Sun.

Tom McMillen

Tom McMillen

McMILLEN GETS TRUSTEE AWARD: The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) announced that former U.S. congressman and University System of Maryland regent Tom McMillen is the winner of its inaugural Jerry L. Martin Prize for Excellence in College Trusteeship. McMillen is current president of the Division 1A Athletic Directors’ Association. A three-term Maryland congressman, Rhodes Scholar, U.S. Olympian and NBA basketball star, and successful entrepreneur, McMillen was a founding member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and served from 2007 to 2015 on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, which oversees the 12 campuses of the system.