State Roundup, July 20, 2016

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MARYLAND SUES VW: Maryland is suing Volkswagen for allegedly breaking state environmental laws and causing pollution, state officials announced Tuesday. Jesse Coburn of the Sun writes that Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said that the German car company committed a “willful and systematic scheme of cheating” on emissions tests, which sullied the state’s air and water and exposed residents to harmful pollutants.

FANTASY SPORTS REGS ‘COMPLICATED:’ Maryland’s attorney general Tuesday said fantasy sports gaming in the state is a convoluted and complicated issue for which his office lacks the financial resources to resolve, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. “We have priorities [and] resources and we devote them to the most important matters that confront our state,” Brian E. Frosh said during a press conference announcing the state’s lawsuit against Volkswagen

MD TRANSGENDER STUDENT SUES: Transgender high school students in Maryland and Wisconsin who were banned from boys’ facilities in their schools have filed federal lawsuits arguing that the prohibitions violate their civil rights. The two lawsuits — filed by transgender boys from Talbot County, Md., and Kenosha, Wis. — are the latest actions in a flurry of litigation surrounding the question of how schools treat transgender students. The cases challenge the legality of restricting transgender students to unisex restrooms or to the restrooms that correspond with the sex shown on their birth certificates rather than allowing them access to the public school bathrooms — and locker rooms — that match their gender identity, Moriah Balingit and Emma Brown report in the Post.

LAWMAKERS HOME IN ON CITY CONTRACTING: Lawmakers are calling for changes to Baltimore City’s government contracting practices after a review by the Sun found infrastructure jobs went $105 million over budget in the past four years. State Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, suggested in a Facebook post that a contractor who goes over budget be disqualified from bidding on a city job for 10 years, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

HOGAN ENDORSES SZELIGA: Gov. Larry Hogan surprised nobody Tuesday by formally endorsing Del. Kathy Szeliga, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, as both skipped the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Michael Dresser writes in the Sun. Hogan and Szeliga, who represents Baltimore and Harford counties, held a news conference outside McGarvey’s restaurant in Annapolis after holding a private meeting there with Armed Forces veterans.

SZELIGA MISSES GOP CONVENTION: Instead of traveling to her party’s gathering where Donald Trump claimed the GOP’s presidential nomination Wednesday, Maryland House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga decided to remain in her own state to focus on her campaign against Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County for the open U.S. Senate seat, CNS’s Jessica Campisi writes in MarylandReporter.com. “I am a little sorry I couldn’t be there,” said Szeliga, who represents Baltimore County in the Maryland House of Delegates. “But I should be here (in Maryland) meeting voters.”

VAN HOLLEN ADDS $1.8M TO COFFERS: Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s campaign for Maryland’s open Senate seat said Tuesday that it had raised $1.8 million in the second quarter of the year, triple the figure expected to be posted by Republican Del. Kathy Szeliga.

HOEBER CONTRIBUTES TO OWN CAMPAIGN: Potomac-based national security consultant Amie Hoeber is continuing to put her money where her mouth is when it comes to her bid to oust Democratic Rep. John Delaney this fall. The same goes for her husband, Mark Epstein, a former telecommunications company executive, reports Louis Peck for Bethesda Beat.

DISTRICT 8 RACE SPENT $20M: The nearly $20 million in spending disclosed in final financial reports filed by candidates for the District 8 congressional primary show the race was the most expensive to date in the nation for a House seat during the 2015-2016 election cycle, Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat writes.

In this screen shot from C-Span, Maryland GOP Chair Diana Waterman casts Maryland's votes for Donald Trump.

In this screen shot from C-Span, Maryland GOP Chair Diana Waterman casts Maryland’s votes for Donald Trump.

PLAGIARISM ‘NO BIG DEAL:’ Allegations that the Trump campaign plagiarized portions of Melania Trump’s prime time address on Monday continued to dominate discussion on cable news Tuesday, but convention delegates were ready to dismiss the imbroglio as old news, John Fritze reports in the Sun. “What is it — a 1,600-word speech and two sentences were close to another speech?” said Maryland Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings of Baltimore County, an at-large delegate for Trump. “To me it’s no big deal.”

CARSON AT CONVENTION: Retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon and former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson said Tuesday that being transgender “doesn’t make any sense” and equated gender identity with ethnicity. “For someone to wake up and think that they belong to a different sex because they feel different that day is the same as if you woke up and said I’m Afghani today because I saw a movie about that last night and even though my genetics might not indicate that, that’s the way I feel, and if you say that I’m not, then you’re a racist,” Carson told The Hill newspaper in an interview.