HOGAN CUTS MORE FEES: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that he plans to eliminate or reduce dozens of state fees by $60 million over the next five years, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. The action comes less than a month after the Democratic-controlled legislature refused to approve some of the governor’s proposed cuts. And it is the second time in less than a year that Hogan has cut fees without legislative approval.
- The Sun’s Pamela Wood writes that a few of the reductions will affect a significant number of Marylanders. They include a cut in the up-front fee for an E-ZPass transponder from $9 to $7.50, and another measure to give veterans half-price admission to state parks.
- The 155 reductions and eliminations are the second round of such actions in the last year under the first-term Republican governor. Earlier this week, Hogan signed legislation that eliminates fees for birth certificates for homeless people, allowing wider access to a primary document that can be used to establish an individual’s identity and provide them with access to a wider array of services, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
STATE DECERTIFIES CITY ELECTIONS: State election officials ordered the results of Baltimore’s primary election decertified Thursday and launched a precinct-level review of irregularities, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. The story is topped by a short video on the topic.
- State Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said the number of ballots cast in the April 26 contest was hundreds more than the number of voters who checked in at polling places, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports. The state also identified 80 provisional ballots that hadn’t been considered.
- “Some of the ways this had been reported are not quite right. The state never certified this election,” said deputy administrator of the Maryland Election Board Nikki Charlson. Charlson said state election officials did become concerned when they noticed something odd this week as they conducted their normal post-election reconciliation, a process undertaken for all Maryland jurisdictions, writes Fern Shen in Baltimore Brew.
- On Thursday, activists came together outside of the city board of elections to applaud the state’s action and to call for an investigation, WBFF is reporting. “This is a gross negligence that went way too far,” said Hassan Giordano with “Voters Organized or the Integrity of City Elections.”
- Baltimore City has a long history of election irregularities and problems, Yvonne Wenger reports for the Sun.
POLITICS OF AIR CONDITIONING: The editorial board of the Sun opines that the obsession with window air conditioning in Baltimore county and city public schools by Comptroller Peter Franchot, joined of late by Gov. Larry Hogan, is no longer amusing. On Wednesday, their heavy-handed tactics to force local officials to immediately install window units in some 4,000 classrooms went beyond political grandstanding into the realm of doing real damage to students and to a system of making hard choices on how to allocate limited funds that has long served the state well.
- WYPR-FM’s Fraser Smith and Bryan Sears of the Daily Record discuss the history of the politics of air conditioning in schools.
HOGAN PLEASED WITH RESIGNATION: Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he’s “very pleased” with the decision of the state’s school construction chief to resign amid the ongoing battle over school air conditioning in Baltimore city and county, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. David Lever has headed the Interagency Committee on School Construction, a state agency that reviews school construction projects and spending, since 2003.
NAACP HOPEFUL AFTER TALBOT OPEN MEETINGS RULING: The Talbot Boys statue still stands on the courthouse grounds in Easton. This week, a Maryland compliance board sent a letter to the Talbot County Council saying that the council did not act properly when it held the vote to determine the statue’s fate behind closed doors, Tyler Butler reports for WBOC-TV. “It gives us a little bit of leverage to say to the county council and at least ask them to go back and redo their process to make it more of an open process,” said Talbot County NAACP President Richard Potter.
PG RESIDENTS FILE COMPLAINT AGAINST STATE: Residents of rural southern Prince George’s County filed a federal civil rights complaint Wednesday, saying the state’s approval of a natural-gas-fueled power plant would disproportionately affect their majority-black community, Arelis Hernandez reports for the Post.
PART 5: TACKLING CELL-PHONE TRACKING LAW: Part 5 of CNS’s series on cell-phone tracking technology, Courtney Mabeus writes that the Maryland legislature and courts are starting to tackle how cell phone simulators should be used by local law enforcement. The law governing use of cell site location information in Maryland changed in October 2014 to raise the burden of proof and required a court order before law enforcement could conduct real-time tracking. The story appears in MarylandReporter.com.
EHRLICH BACKS TRUMP: Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a former backer of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, pasted a message on Facebook Wednesday night telling Republicans “it is time to get our act together” and rally behind Trump to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton, writes Michael Dresser for the Sun.
CONGRESS OKS WOMEN PILOTS’ INURNMENT AT ARLINGTON: Congress has approved legislation to allow Women Airforce Service Pilots who flew domestic missions during World War II to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery, Tim Prudente reports for the Sun. The House of Representatives passed the legislation Thursday. It now awaits the president’s signature.
OBAMA ISSUES DIRECTIVE ON TRANSGENDER STUDENTS: Public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, according to an Obama administration directive issued amid a court fight between the federal government and North Carolina. The Tribune story in the Sun says that the guidance from leaders at the departments of Education and Justice says public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a way that matches their gender identity, even if their education records or identity documents indicate a different sex.
DISTRICT HEIGHTS MAYOR, 39, DIES: The mayor of District Heights, a city in Prince George’s County, died early Thursday after emergency responders found him unconscious inside his home, Arelis Hernandez reports. James L. Walls Jr., 39, was the youngest person ever elected to the city’s top office in 2006. News of his death rattled the inner-Beltway city of 6,000 residents, where he was serving his third term.
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