State Roundup, November 15, 2016

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HATE SPEECH ON RISE: Attorney General Brian E. Frosh is encouraging victims of racial and religious hate speech Monday to report the incidents, which he said appear to have risen since Donald Trump won the presidential election last week, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. “There seems to be this upwelling of that kind of awful behavior — criminal behavior,” said Frosh, the state’s top law enforcement official. “Unless it’s been happening quietly before, it seems like the incidents have increased.”

FRACKING PROTEST: The Baltimore City Council gave initial approval Monday to a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The move coincided with a resolution pushing for a statewide ban and is largely symbolic. The ban will effectively be repealed when the state’s drilling moratorium ends next year. Still, a group of about 20 activists marked the occasion with a demonstration in northeast Baltimore, outside state Sen. Joan Carter Conway’s office Monday afternoon, Rachel Baye reports at WYPR-FM.

  • Environmental groups supporting a statewide ban of a controversial process for extracting natural gas took their message to the front door of state Sen. Joan Carter Conway who has repeatedly blocked previous legislation. “I’m insulted,” said Conway. “I’m insulted because they didn’t even come in to talk to me first.” Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that Conway said she told activists in advance of the rally Monday afternoon that gathering outside her office “won’t help your cause.”

CHANGE SOUGHT TO CITY BUS SYSTEM: Baltimore’s transit workers union is asking bus riders to join them in calling for the state to rethink its overhaul of the bus system, Yvonne Wenger reports for the Sun. Dels. Cheryl Glenn and Cory McCray, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and City Councilman-elect John Bullock joined the union Monday to back its alternative to BaltimoreLink, the proposal of the Maryland Transit Administration. Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed a $135 million project to reduce a bottleneck of bus routes that converge downtown by consolidating them into shorter, higher-frequency lines.

SENATE OPENINGS: The resignation of three veteran Democrats from the Maryland Senate — Jamie Raskin, Catherine Pugh and Ulysses Currie — has triggered jockeying for their seats in the State House, and could rekindle a debate about whether to use such openings to boost the careers of political insiders or bring in new leadership, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

LONG LINES, NO CONSPIRACY: There were long lines at some polling places on Election Day, and hundreds of voters waited for hours, particularly in Baltimore County. But there is no evidence of a partisan conspiracy, as some Republicans believed, just a shortage of scanners, writes Glynis Kazanjian and Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com.

INTERPRETING TRUMP: Del. Trent Kittleman writes in a piece for MarylandReporter.com that the fear that many people have of President-elect Trump based on what he has said is actually misplaced because he never meant what he said in the first place. She goes on to decipher what she believe he actually means.

REDISTRICTING COMMISSION EXTENDED: Danielle Gaines in the Frederick News-Post is reporting that Gov. Hogan has extended the life of the redistricting reform commission, as some commission members had requested. (The amended order has not been posted on the governor’s website, and there was no announcement from Hogan’s office, but the story (from the Cecil Daily) was posted on the governor’s Facebook page.)

CARDIN, HOYER CRITICIZE BANNON CHOICE: A handful of Maryland Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, added their voice Monday to the criticism of President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Steve Bannon to a senior White House job, a selection that dominated the political discussion as the nation sought clues for how the next administration will address deep divisions, writes John Fritze in the Sun.

ADDRESSING TRUMP: Several hundred students joined faculty members at Towson University’s Freedom Square on Monday to express their feelings about the election of Donald Trump as president — and to exhort others to work for social justice and equality, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun.

  • Uncertainty over what to expect from the administration of President-elect Donald Trump hovered over the opening Monday of the Catholic bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the gathering he had written Trump to ask that he use his influence to promote both the protection of life and the preservation of human dignity, Jonathan Pitts writes in the Sun.

CANNABIS IN WESTMINSTER: At a public hearing on Monday, the Westminster City Council heard a synopsis of plans to bring a medical cannabis growing and processing center to Westminster, writes Heather Norris in the Carroll County Times. Maryland Compassionate Care and Wellness was awarded preliminary approval by the state to grow and process cannabis for medical use. It was the only applicant awarded pre-approval in Carroll County.

CITY MOVES ON TOY GUN BAN: The Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to a citywide ban on toy guns that look like working handguns and rifles, Luke Broadwater and Yvonne Wenger write in the Sun. Council members introduced the legislation after a 14-year-old East Baltimore boy holding a BB gun was shot by a city police detective in April.