State Roundup, November 21, 2016

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ANGER OVER RX POT ACTION: The leader of the General Assembly’s black caucus was outraged Friday that medical marijuana regulators plan to choose companies to dispense the drug while the state’s selection process is mired in controversy, Erin Cox of the Sun writes. Black lawmakers felt they already had grounds for a civil rights fight because firms owned by African-Americans did not win any of the 15 preliminary licenses to grow marijuana.

BAIL RULE CHANGE: A rule change that would ensure defendants in Maryland are not kept in jail only because they can’t afford bail will be considered by the state’s highest court. The change — backed by Attorney General Brian Frosh but opposed by key General Assembly lawmakers with oversight over the judiciary — was sent to the Court of Appeals Friday by a little-known judicial rules committee by an 18-5 vote, Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.

TRANSIT SCORING LAW REPEAL: Momentum is building for Maryland’s legislature to repeal and replace a transportation-funding law that passed this year despite a veto from Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and became a major bone of contention between the first-term Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Josh Hicks reports for the Post.  The legislation required Maryland’s Department of Transportation to create a scoring system to determine which projects should get priority for state funds.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR MD U.S. ATTY: Law enforcement officials and elected leaders in Maryland are expressing bipartisan hope — and confidence — that U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein will continue in his role as the state’s top federal prosecutor under President-elect Donald J. Trump, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun. Rosenstein — currently the nation’s longest-serving U.S. attorney — was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2005 and remained on the job under Democratic President Barack Obama, in part on the strength of his reputation as a serious professional and “straight shooter.”

NICE BRIDGE: The discussion regarding the replacement of an aging bridge connecting southern Maryland to Dahlgren, Va., is set for another turn today. The Maryland Transportation Authority Board is scheduled to tour the 75-year old Gov. Harry W. Nice Bridge. Later the board is scheduled to vote to approve an unspecified construction item. The meeting and vote are scheduled just before an afternoon announcement by Gov. Larry Hogan, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

INFRASTRUCTURE HELP: While President-elect Donald Trump vowed to build a wall, Maryland lawmakers and officials are hopeful he will build up the state’s roads, tunnels and public transit, writes CNS’s Vickie Connor. Trump has plans to invest in infrastructure. According to his website, he wants to pursue “an ‘America’s Infrastructure First’ policy.” Among sectors that include water quality, telecommunications and energy, the businessman wants to put money toward transportation.

AGAINST HATE: In a column for the Sun, Chiara D’Amore continues to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to come out forcefully against the rising tide of hateful speech that is occurring in Maryland. She writes that, “Friends of mine have been called the N-word for the first time in the diverse and inclusive community of Columbia. Other friends are afraid to wear any public indication of their religion due to harassment.”

DRIVING WHILE BLACK: The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland study has confirmed what is being realized as a long-standing issue in the state and country, reports WJZ-TV. Black drivers are stopped and searched by police at a higher rate than their white counterparts. New data released by the ACLU shows what some may find surprising, but for others, it’s a reality.

VAN HOLLEN TAKES LEADERSHIP ROLE: A month and a half before he is sworn in as the next senator from Maryland, Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen is already a member of the Democratic leadership of that body, writes Louis Peck in Bethesda Beat. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the Senate Democrats’ newly named minority leader, announced Friday that Van Hollen has been chosen as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2017-2018 campaign cycle, reprising a role he played during his 14-year tenure in the House of Representatives when he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2006 to 2010.

TRUMP MIRRORS HOGAN TACTICS: Political pundit Barry Rascovar, in a column for MarylandReporter.com, writes, “We should have seen Donald Trump’s huge upset victory coming: He used many of the same tactics and strategies as Gov. Larry Hogan, Jr. when the Annapolis real estate developer shocked everyone with his big upset in Maryland two years ago. The similarities are striking.” He goes on to outline those similarities.

FOUR CANDIDATES, LITTLE DIFFERENCE: Four announced candidates for the unfinished state Senate term of U.S. Rep.-elect Jamie Raskin, D-Takoma Park, fielded questions for more than an hour and a quarter Thursday evening during a candidate forum that revealed virtually no differences among them on state, local or national issues, Louis Peck reports in Bethesda Beat.

RACE FOR BA CO EXEC: It’s nearly two years until Baltimore County voters pick their next county executive, but Democrats and Republicans are already preparing for a race that both parties expect to be highly competitive. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that Democrats, who have held the office since 1994, are eager to defend their turf. Three prominent officials — County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond, state Sen. Jim Brochin and former state Del. John Olszewski Jr. — say they are considering a run to lead the state’s third-largest county.

FREDERICK GOP CHANGES: Change could be on the way for the Frederick County Republican Central Committee. Some members are readying to take action that could lead to the ouster of one of the elected members, a former chairwoman. Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post reports that Republican officials in the county said some members of the committee want to remove JoeyLynn Hough, who Republican voters elected to the post in 2014. Hough and the current chairman, Billy Shreve, have not always seen eye-to-eye during their terms.