State Roundup, May 12, 2016

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AC POWER STRUGGLE LEADS TO RESIGNATION: A debate over whether Baltimore-area schools can spend money on portable air-conditioning units has mushroomed into a power struggle involving some of Maryland’s top elected officials, writes Josh Hicks in the Post.

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN CHALLENGE: In a Maryland gun-rights case that will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, attorneys for gun owners and the state battled before a federal appeals court Wednesday over the constitutionality of the state’s ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines and over whether a judge who upheld the ban applied the correct legal standard, Steve Lash reports for the Daily Record.

NO FROGS, TURTLES ON JULY 4: After many years, the frogs and turtles will no longer be part of the July 4th festivities in the Town of Bel Air. The Aegis is reporting that the frog-jumping contest and turtle derby will be prohibited by new updates to the State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources regulations. The updates were published in the Maryland Register on April 15 and will go into effect on June 20.

FEDERAL FANTASY SPORTS CHECK: Congress on Wednesday launched a fact-finding mission into the loosely regulated world of fantasy sports games — a multibillion-dollar business that seemingly advertised everywhere during the pro football season, the AP is reporting in the Daily Record. Maryland legislators debated several measures during the most recent session, including bills to regulate or even ban the industry. No measure was passed, though leaders are pushing Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh to take action.

FEMA FLOOD PLAIN CHANGE SOUGHT: Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin called Wednesday for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to adjust its flood plain maps for Ocean City, arguing that residents there are unnecessarily facing high insurance costs. The two Democrats said in a letter to the agency on Wednesday that FEMA incorrectly deviated from flood maps established by the Army Corps of Engineers late last year. Being on the wrong side of a flood line can significantly increase the cost of insurance.

PART 4: ART & SCIENCE OF CELL PHONE TRACKING: In Part 4 of the CNS series on cell phone tracking technology, we learn that cell site simulators were initially used overseas by intelligence agencies and federal law enforcement. Homeland Security agencies including the Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement also now use the devices, as does the Internal Revenue Service, writes Courtney Mabeus in MarylandReporter.com. As the technology improved and spread through federal agencies, local and state agencies learned of them, too. DHS and DOJ officials have said that domestically, their devices only scoop up metadata. They do not gather content, like emails or text messages.

REFORMING SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY:  Roughly 200,000 people are on the national sex offender registry for something they did as a child, as young as age 9. Some committed serious offenses. But pulling down a classmate’s pants or having sex underage can also land you on the registry, with devastating consequences, Sheilah Kast of WYPR-FM speaks with Nicole Pittman, founder of the Center on Youth Registration Reform, and Elizabeth Letourneau, of Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

DIXON WON’T SEEK RECOUNT: Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon said Wednesday she will not seek a recount of last month’s Democratic primary election for mayor, which she lost to state Sen. Catherine Pugh, Yvonne Wenger and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.

MATTHEWS CONSIDERS OTHER RUNS: Kathleen Matthews, who lost the Democratic primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District last month, says she has not ruled out another run for office and thinks she would have defeated state Sen. Jamie B. Raskin if wine mogul David Trone had not entered the race, writes Bill Turque of the Post.

MIKULSKI TODAY, TOMORROW: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski met with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland on Wednesday, as it remains unclear if President Barack Obama’s pick for a vacant seat will be considered before November’s general election, Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post writes. “I am doing the job that I was elected to do by the people of Maryland,” Mikulski, a Democrat, said after the meeting in a written statement.

  • Mikulski, who is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year, left open the possibility of a future role in government, possibly as part of a Clinton administration if the former Secretary of State wins the general election, John Fritze of the Sun reports. “I’m turning the page, not writing the final chapter,” the Maryland Democrat offered in response to a question about whether she would work in a Clinton White House. “Service is in my DNA…Let’s get a Clinton administration and then we can talk.”

EDITOR AWAY: Editor Len Lazarick is away. If there is a problem with roundup or the newsletter, contact roundup editor Cynthia Prairie at cynthiaprairie@gmail.com; if there is a problem with the website or one of the stories published there contact Meg Tully at megctully@gmail.com.