State Roundup, August 23, 2016

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RX POT HOPEFULS: The head of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is asking the governor to intervene in the awarding of medical cannabis licenses because the selected companies lack diversity, denying minorities the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an emerging industry, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. Del. Cheryl D. Glenn said, “Clearly, there was no effort at all to factor in minority participation and make sure that it’s inclusive of everybody in the state of Maryland.”

  • CannaMED Pharmaceuticals has a $1 million, 47,000-square-foot facility in Wicomico County it’s ready to convert to a growing facility for medical marijuana. It also has a business plan that involves setting aside space in its facility for visiting scientists to do research, as well as devoting millions of dollars in future revenue to university research. What CannaMED doesn’t have is a license — or even the initial approval to get one. But it isn’t giving up yet, write Daniel Leaderman in the Daily Record, since companies with preliminary approval could still be knocked out of the running.

MARYLAND NO. 10: For the first time since 2013, Governing Magazine ranked the overall economic performance of the 50 states. The results show a connection between a state’s economic performance and its governor’s approval ratings. Maryland ranks No. 10. Louis Jacobson writes the article.

SCORING SYSTEM REPEAL: Potential changes to a controversial transportation scoring system could come down to the definition of one word: repeal. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that Gov. Larry Hogan, speaking to a gathering of local government officials at the Maryland Association of Counties summer convention in Ocean City, vowed to repeal a bill he said would eliminate funding for all road and highway projects in favor of transit projects in a handful of counties. In comments to reporters, he compared the effort to one of the cornerstones of his 2014 campaign — the repeal of the stormwater management fee, the so-called rain tax.

WACO ED BOARD HEAD NOMINATED: Donna Brightman, president of the Washington County Board of Education, has been nominated to serve on a new state panel that could affect school funding formulas for years, writes Tamela Baker for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. But a final decision on who will serve on the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education has not yet been made, according to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office.

WELL-LIKED GOVERNORS: Politics is a popularity contest, writes Allan Greenblat for Governing Magazine. One way to be really well liked, it turns out, is to succeed on the other party’s turf.  Consider Larry Hogan. He’s only the second Republican elected governor of Maryland over the past half-century. Unlike his sole GOP predecessor, Bob Ehrlich, Hogan doesn’t see himself as being at the vanguard of a rising Maryland Republican Party. Instead, he’s successfully argued for the benefits of two-party competition, aided in his pitch by an improving economy and some tax and fee cuts.

DOWN THE OCEAN WITH MACo: Political observer Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland obviously had a high time down the ocean during the MACo conference last week. He writes that Gov. Hogan’s presence seems to have spurred on the political fund-raising and attracted politicians — as did the free booze.

CARROLL HOPEFUL AFTER MACo: Last week’s summer Maryland Association of Counties conference ended on a high note for some officials in Carroll County as Gov. Larry Hogan announced Saturday that he plans to repeal regulations many in the county have opposed, Heather Norris reports in the Carroll County Times. Carroll County officials — four commissioners, nine directors, the county tourism manager, emergency manager and administrator — joined with other representatives and officials from around the state in Ocean City.

ATTRACTING PATIENTS: Prince George’s Hospital Center plans to replace its aging facility in Cheverly with an ambitious complex in Largo that will encompass 26 acres; employ thousands of doctors, nurses, technicians, and support staff; and treat hundreds of patients a day. It will be called the Prince George’s Regional Medical Center. The problem is, writes Michael Collins in an opinion piece for MarylandReporter.com, that patients have been going elsewhere.

DEATH TO ROBOCALLS: Reuters reports in Venture Beat magazine that that more than 30 major technology companies are joining the U.S. government to crack down on automated, prerecorded telephone calls that regulators have labeled a “scourge.”