State Roundup, October 12, 2016

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HOWARD SHERIFF TO RETIRE: Howard County elected officials of both parties are mightily relieved that Democrat Sheriff Jim Fitzgerald finally succumbed to intense political pressure from all sides and all levels and has agreed to retire, Len Lazarick reports for

SCHOOL START WAIVER DIFFICULT: Gov. Larry Hogan issued a second executive order Tuesday that makes it difficult for school systems to avoid starting school after Labor Day by seeking a waiver, Liz Bowie and Carrie Wells of the Sun report.

CASH BAIL LEGALITY QUESTIONED: Maryland’s top legal officer has concluded that the state’s system of holding defendants in jail because they can’t afford to pay cash bail likely would be found unconstitutional. In a letter sent Tuesday to five House of Delegates members who sought his opinion, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh told them that judges and court commissioners must take into account the accused’s ability to pay before setting bail. He said that if bail is out of reach for a defendant, the courts would find that unlawful, Michael Dresser and Justin Fenton report in the Sun.

REGIONWIDE TRANSIT SYSTEM SOUGHT: State and local elected officials from the Baltimore and Washington metro areas are calling for a transit network that would connect their respective regions. The policy makers joined activists at a press conference Tuesday morning in front of Baltimore’s Penn Station, gearing up for a political fight that could last through the spring’s General Assembly session, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.

TRANSIT FUNDING DELAY IN MOCO: Montgomery County state lawmakers are pushing back against a funding delay that has stalled design of the Corridor Cities Transitway—the transportation project that is the county’s second highest priority. Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat writes that the lawmakers sent a letter last week to Gov. Larry Hogan warning him about the negative repercussions caused by delaying the funding for the bus rapid transit project that is anticipated to be one of the county’s largest drivers of future economic development.

HOGAN NAMES CHIEF OF STAFF: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday a cabinet secretary will become his chief of staff after the current one leaves the job later this month. Hogan appointed Sam Malhotra, secretary of the Department of Human Resources, to take over the top staff job on Oct. 26, reports Erin Cox in the Sun.

HOGAN CALLS TRUMP ‘DISGRACEFUL:’ Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that he hasn’t decided who he will write-in when he votes for president, but he knows it won’t be Donald Trump, reports Meredith Newman for the Sun. Asked by a reporter about Trump’s comments in a 2005 video, in which he described grabbing women by the genitals and kissing them without their consent, Hogan called them “disgraceful and outrageous.”

HOGAN ENDORSES PLASTER: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday endorsed Mark Plaster, a fellow Republican and businessman, in his underdog battle to oust four-term Rep. John Sarbanes (D) in the state’s 3rd Congressional District, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

DELANEY-HOEBER RACE: Karen Hosler of WYPR-FM reports on the congressional race between incumbent John Delaney, a Democrat, and Republican Amie Hoeber. Neither candidate lives in the district they are running to represent.

LEGGETT WON’T SEEK 4th TERM: Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, the son of a sawmill laborer who rose from the Jim Crow South to become a Howard University law professor and chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, said Tuesday he will not seek a fourth term, Bill Turque writes in the Post.

MO CO TERM LIMIT QUESTION REMAINS ON BALLOT: The Maryland Court of Appeals has declined to hear a case challenging the validity of petitions collected to place a term limits proposition on Montgomery County’s Nov. 8 ballot, writes Bill Turque in the Post. Friday’s order by the state’s highest court exhausts the legal remedies available to opponents of Question B. The proposed charter amendment would limit the county executive and members of the County Council to three four-year terms.

CITY BOARD VIOLATED OPEN MEETING LAW: The Baltimore city school board violated the Maryland Open Meeting Compliance Act in the case of two closed-door meetings when it decided to replace former schools CEO Gregory Thornton, a state board has ruled. Marnell Cooper, chair of the city school board, announced the decision issued by Maryland Open Meeting Compliance Board on Tuesday night, reports the Sun’s Erica Green. He said the Oct. 6 opinion, spurred by a citizen complaint, found that two of six meetings in question were not properly announced or documented.

official-ballot-2016GOP AT TOP OF BALLOT: Alan Walden, Baltimore’s Republican nominee for mayor, is hoping his top billing on the election ballot will help inch him a little closer to his Democratic competition when voters arrive at the polls in November. Walden’s coveted ballot position — which he thinks should get him a couple of thousand votes — is thanks to a little known 45-year-old law that gives the position to members of the governor’s party, Yvonne Wenger writes in the Sun.

DIXON FILES AS WRITE-IN FOR MAYOR: Kenneth Burns of WYPR-FM reports that former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced she will try to get her job back as a write in candidate for the general election. Dixon filed the paperwork Tuesday before a news conference.  She acknowledged her newly revived campaign is going to be challenging.