State Roundup, May 23, 2016

Print More

MEDICAL MARIJUANA DELAYS: Maryland’s state medical marijuana commission delivered a blow to marijuana advocates and would-be entrepreneurs last week by abruptly capping the number of businesses that can process marijuana into pills, oils and other products, Aaron Gregg and Fenit Nirappil report in the Post. The commission also gave conflicting information about when the first long-awaited growing licenses would be issued, first saying it would be late summer or early fall, then stating that licenses would come “weeks” after the evaluations of the applications are completed in early July.

HOME-GAMBLING ALLOWED: A busted mah-jongg game at a retirement village eventually led to Gov. Larry Hogan signing a bill to legalize some home poker games. The bill came with many caveats. Among other restrictions, games cannot be held more than once a week, cannot be advertised, cannot involve the wagering of more than $1,000 in a 24-hour period and cannot involve “use of an electronic device that connects to the Internet,” Justin Moyer writes in the Post.

McMILLAN BILLS IGNORED: Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports that Gov. Larry Hogan has given his approval this year to more than 600 bills, on topics large and small. None of these measures had Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis, as a primary sponsor. McMillan, who publicly challenged some of the initiatives the Republican governor supported during this legislative session, is the only Anne Arundel County delegation member who hasn’t seen a bill he shepherded through the General Assembly signed by Hogan.

Hogan Preakness 2016

Maryland governors get one guaranteed appearance on national TV every year, the awarding of the Woodlawn vase to the winner of the Preakness. Here Matt Bryan, owner of Exaggerator, holds up the vase he was given by Gov. Larry Hogan as he is interviewed by NBC’s Bob Costas. Photo from among many on Gov. Hogan’s Facebook page. 

U.S. CYBER COMMAND: Officials and business leaders in Maryland are backing a proposal to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command — one of 10 charged with carrying out missions around the world — a move they hope will bring prestige and more jobs to the state, reports Ian Duncan for the Sun.  U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger praised the idea on the floor of the House last week, before lawmakers approved the annual defense funding bill, which this year included language directing the Pentagon to make the change.

PARCC GOES AFTER CRITICS: Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post shows how the testing folks associated with Common Core are trying to shut down critics based on infringement of the PARCC copyright.

EXCESSIVE SCREEN TIME: In an op-ed for the Towson Flyer, parent Cindy Eckard writes that, “I have refused PARCC testing for my children because of the excessive screen time that is required. PARCC regulations require elementary school children to use a computer for as much as an hour and a half straight, for testing. Students are allowed just one 3-minute break — if the test coordinator agrees.”

PARENTAGE LAWS: As reproductive technology has advanced and marriage equality has become the law of the land, the body of Maryland statutes and cases that determine the legal definition of a parent have not kept up, Lauren Kirkwood reports for the Daily Record. Two cases recently heard by the Court of Appeals — one involving the parental rights of a former same-sex partner of a child’s mother, the other involving a father who tried to deny his responsibility to support a child conceived through in vitro fertilization — have raised questions about inconsistencies in the laws surrounding child custody rights and child support responsibilities.

NEALL’S DIFFICULT TASK: They never seem to give Bobby Neall easy assignments, columnist Barry Rascovar opines in MarylandReporter.com. Now Gov. Larry Hogan wants the former Anne Arundel County executive, former state senator and former state delegate to take on another near-mission impossible: reorganize state government. But Republican Hogan’s motives are deeply distrusted by the Democratic legislature. Any move that smacks of cutting government operations to pay for election-year tax cuts will be buried by legislative Democrats.

PURPLE LINE DIVIDED PART 3: In Part 3 of a CNS series on the Purple Line, Brittany Britto reports in MarylandReporter.com that Wanderly Calderon first heard about the Purple Line from her neighbors three years ago, but she didn’t think it was going to directly affect her. Now, it’s going to be in her front yard.  Calderon, 77, who has lived in her house for the past 40 years, received a letter from the Maryland Transit Administration in late 2014. The Purple Line will travel underground in a tunnel and will surface at the new nearby station, Long Branch, which would be built across the street from Calderon’s home.

ON WIEDEFELD: Paul J. Wiedefeld used to run BWI Marshall Airport. Then he oversaw Baltimore’s bus and rail system. Then he ran BWI again. Now he faces a tougher challenge. On the heels of his ouster at BWI last summer, Wiedefeld was hired six months ago to reverse the sagging fortunes of Washington’s once-proud Metro system — beset in recent years by fatal safety lapses and abysmal service. This month, he launched a repair plan that will mean a year of inconvenience and hardship for riders. Michael Dresser of the Sun profiles Wiedefeld.

VIETNAM VETS CELEBRATED: Maryland Public Television will be airing a state government sponsored documentary from Tuesday, May 24 to Thursday, May 26 saluting Maryland Vietnam veterans. The state invested $325,000 in FY16 in the four-year, $1.9 million undertaking. And Gov. Larry Hogan will preside at the Saturday, June 18 tribute ceremony at MPT’s weekend event “LZ Maryland.”  According to MPT, Vietnam vets in the legislature — particularly Sens. John Astle and Mac Middleton  — have been helping MPT promote the project. MPT also received support from the state departments of Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

HOMEBUYERS BLOCKED FROM SUING: Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that the state’s top court has ruled that homebuyers cannot sue companies allegedly involved in a real-estate kickback scheme under a Maryland law that makes it a crime for mortgage brokers to receive – and settlement and title companies to pay – referral fees.

GIFTS FOR HOGAN: Two days after Gov. Larry Hogan announced his cancer diagnosis last year, the gifts started rolling in. Books. Blankets. A box of cigars. A wooden goblet. Hats. More hats. Comfort kits. What eventually tallied up to 13 prayer shawls. Two rosaries from Pope Francis. During his first 16 months in office, Hogan accepted 277 gifts he estimated to be worth at least $7,250, according to financial disclosure records filed this month, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

ELECTION REVIEW CONTINUES: State elections officials said Friday that they continue to find irregularities in Baltimore City’s primary election as they complete their review, writes Luke Broadwater in the Sun. Officials reported Thursday that about 1,000 more votes were cast during the April 26 primary in Baltimore City than there were voters checked in at the polls. More than 450 provisional ballots were not considered by election judges. And nearly 800 provisional ballots — given to voters whose eligibility was in question — were improperly counted before eligibility was verified, officials said.

AA BOARD OF ED NOMINATING PANEL MEETS: A meeting held Sunday by the Anne Arundel government body that recommends candidates to the governor for the county Board of Education got off to a contentious start when one member tried to halt interviews of school board candidates for two seats that come open in 2017, Lauren Loricchio reports for the Annapolis Capital.

OBAMA SIGNS FEMALE PILOT BILL: Female pilots who served in the air forces during World War II can now be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, thanks to legislation President Obama signed Friday. The family of 2nd Lt. Elaine Danforth Harmon, a Marylander who died last year at 95, has been fighting to change the policy against allowing female pilots this honor, writes Rachel Weiner for the Post. Harmon was one of over a thousand women who flew planes for transport and training during the war.

O’MALLEY ON DEBATE QUESTIONS: John Fritze of the Sun writes that former Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley made a notable claim when he appeared this month on a Baltimore television station for his first full-length interview to assess his unsuccessful bid for the White House. “The public never was told this, but they would tell us, ‘Look, Secretary Clinton’s going to get 50% of the questions, Sen. Sanders is going to get 40% and you’re going to get 10% of the questions,’ ” he said.