RALLY FOR HOWARD SANCTUARY: A crowd of 1,100 packed the Catholic space at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center in Columbia Sunday evening to show their support for local legislation making Howard County a sanctuary city that would not go out of its way to enforce federal immigration laws. Priests, ministers and long-time undocumented residents spoke in favor of the bill, and organized to lobby for its passage. They are not confident of getting the four out of five votes needed to override a promised veto by County Executive Allan Kittleman. “Regardless of the outcome, we want fair, decent, respectful treatment” for all, said new Catholic Bishop Mark Brennan, who spoke and prayed in both English and Spanish. (MarylandReporter.com)
HOGAN MUM ON TRUMP TRAVEL BAN: Democratic lawmakers in deep-blue Maryland are calling on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to denounce President Trump’s controversial travel ban. But he had little to say this weekend on the travel ban Trump signed Friday, even as a growing chorus of Republicans condemned it and Democrats and liberal groups in Maryland took to Twitter and other social media to denounce the order and ask where Hogan stood, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
- The Baltimore Sun’s Carrie Wells reports on the thousands who attended a rally against the ban at state-run BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, including Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings, John Delaney and Dutch Ruppersberger, and ex-governor Martin O’Malley.
LIMITING DEPORTATION HELP: Maryland was one of the first states to approve a Dream Act, which provides in-state tuition breaks for undocumented immigrants. It also passed a law that allows illegal immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. Now immigration advocates say they are working with Maryland lawmakers to draft the Trust Act, a bill modeled after a California law that limits the state’s cooperation with deportation authorities.
MARIJUANA LAWS: State lawmakers are pushing to revamp the Maryland’s medical cannabis commission and award additional licenses to prospective growers, processors and dispensaries in hopes of getting more minority-owned businesses involved in the fledgling industry, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Two bills backed by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland would make major changes to the state’s cannabis program, including adding seven new licenses for growers, seven for processors and 25 for dispensaries.
- Black state lawmakers have criticized marijuana regulators for authorizing cultivation operations led almost entirely by white executives, despite provisions in the 2014 legalization law calling for a diversity among growers, Fenit Nirappil of the Post reports. They note that African Americans nationwide have been disproportionately locked up for marijuana offenses, and they say black-owned companies have been underrepresented in the lucrative legal industry.
- Legislators are expected to propose two bills today related to legalizing marijuana use for adults and tax it in an effort to generates tens of millions of dollars for the state. One bill would legalize marijuana use for people 21 and older and regulate it similarly to alcohol. The other bill would tax non-medical uses of the drug, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
STATE GAMBLES, EDUCATION LOSES: The gambling industry, which was supposed to be a boon for public schools, has proved to be a wash instead, opines the editorial board for the Frederick News Post. State leaders sold gambling on the promise that spending on education would increase. Instead, by diverting general revenue funds to other efforts, the state missed a unique opportunity to improve educational outcomes and expand instructional programming. And the schools stand to lose big when all those gambling earnings start to level off, as they already have in nearby West Virginia amid increased competition from other casinos.
IT BEGAN WITH PAINKILLERS: Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams grew up with an alcoholic father and has spent two years as lead prosecutor of a county hit hard by Maryland’s opioid epidemic. For a decade, he and his wife did what they could to support her brother, whose dependence on prescription painkillers had grown into an addiction to heroin. Less than three weeks after his brother in law’s death, Adams stood with Gov. Larry Hogan at Anne Arundel Medical Center to announce a slate of proposals to combat opioid addiction. Josh Hicks tells his story for the Post.
CITY TREATMENT NEEDS: The state of Maryland has accepted a Baltimore City agency’s conclusion that 7,300 more addicts need medically assisted treatment than the city can handle. The state agreed to use the new data in applying for and distributing treatment funding, Jo Martin reports for Baltimore Brew.
ANIMAL DISSECTION: Sen. Ronald Young last week proposed legislation requiring that public and nonpublic schools allow students the right to refuse to participate in or observe coursework that involves live or dead animals, Brianna Rhodes of Capital News Service reports.
SOLUTION WITHOUT A PROBLEM: On first glance, requiring voters to have photo IDs in order to vote sounds like a good, common-sense idea. Voter ID cards make sure you are who you say you are before you cast your ballot, according to supporters of voter ID laws. Advocate argue ID cards ensure the integrity of elections, making sure they are fair and free, and help to stop voter fraud from occurring. Except there is no such thing as widespread voter fraud. Despite the many years Republicans in state legislatures have spent banging the gong about the boogeyman of voter fraud, the editorial board for the Frederick News Post writes.
O’MALLEY SUPPORTS REDISTRICTING REFORM: In a lecture at Boston College, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley mentioned the 2010 redistricting process he headed while governor of Maryland, according to a story in The Heights, the BC student newspaper. “But that doesn’t mean that the antiquated partisan redistricting process … is good for our country as a whole or good for our country’s future—it’s not,” O’Malley said. He then promoted non-partisan districting committees and a ranked voting system, which would allow voters to vote by ranked preference, instead of only voting for one candidate.
- To illustrate his criticism of partisan gerrymandering at his Boston College lecture, O’Malley did not use a map of the Maryland congressional districts he drew but maps of North Carolina, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.com. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is again proposing creation of an independent commission to draw congressional and legislative districts in HB385 and SB252. The bills are amended versions of the same proposals that died in House and Senate committees last year without a vote.
ARUNDEL WANTS REP ON OYSTER BOARD: Anne Arundel lawmakers want to see a local representative on the state commission that sets policy for oyster restoration and management in the Chesapeake Bay, Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports. In a Jan. 20 letter to Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton, the chair of Anne Arundel’s state delegation noted there aren’t any Anne Arundel County representatives or watermen serving on the Oyster Advisory Commission.
CITY POLICE BOUNDARIES: Ian Duncan of the Sun reports that Baltimore’s members of the House of Delegates unanimously endorsed a bill Friday that would require the city police department to conduct a long-sought review of its district boundaries and repeat the process every 10 years, after the Census. The districts are one of the basic building blocks of policing in the city, but the boundaries haven’t been changed in decades — supporters of the bill point to 1959 as being the last major shift.
CAMPAIGN DONOR BAN: Residents from around Baltimore County implored state lawmakers Friday to ban developers from making campaign contributions to the Baltimore County executive and members of the County Council, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun.
MANUFACTURING MONEY: Natalie Sherman of the Sun reports on the rise of manufacturing in Maryland, writing that “buzzes, drones and hisses pulse through the air at NRL & Associates, a precision machine shop that makes parts and prototypes and assemblies for clients in a small business park just across the Bay Bridge. But when Rich Coursey walks the floor of his growing business, he hears more than machines cutting aluminum or the rumble of a piece getting finished. “You want to know what we say?” he asked. “We say, ‘That’s the sound of money.’ ”
FIRST LADY CELEBRATES LUNAR NEW YEAR: Gov. and Mrs. Hogan celebrated their third Lunar New Year last Thursday since they moved into Government House. Yumi Hogan, a South Korean-American, was dressed in a han bok, a ceremonial Korean dress with a floor length, steel gray, silk satin skirt with an empire waist, and a cropped, embroidered scarlet red jacket. The governor wore a black suit with a bright red tie, a color symbolizing good luck. “This is her event,” Hogan said, nodding to his wife. “I’m glad she invited me.”
TRUMP ORDER WON’T AFFECT MO CO: Montgomery County is not a sanctuary jurisdiction and therefore the county shouldn’t lose out on federal funds after President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week targeting communities that don’t cooperate with federal agencies enforcing immigration laws, according to county spokesman Patrick Lacefield. According to Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat, Lacefield said Thursday the county cooperates with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by providing the federal department with county arrest and detention information through the state.
PUGH WON’T TAKE SECURITY OUT OF STATE: Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says she won’t take taxpayer-funded police officers with her when she travels out of state on city business or vacation. “The mayor does not travel across the country and around the country with executive protection,” spokesman Anthony McCarthy said. “When the mayor travels to other cities, those cities are alerted to her presence and there is protection that is given.”
SUPPORT FOR NATURAL GAS: A strong majority of registered voters across Maryland support the development of natural gas resources in Western Maryland, according to a new poll by Gonzales Research for the Maryland Petroleum Council. The council released the poll “as part of the state dialogue on hydraulic fracturing,” it said in a press release. “This poll shows that a majority of Maryland voters, more than a two-to-one margin across all regions in Maryland, support more domestic natural gas development,” said Drew Cobbs, executive director of the council. The poll question, however, does not mention “fracking,” or “hydraulic fracturing,” which has been delayed by state regulations. Some legislators want to entirely ban the process because of its feared impact on the environment.
CUMBERLAND NOT SOLD ON FRACKING: Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim and members of the City Council are expressing little enthusiasm for the idea of hydraulic fracturing in the Cumberland area, reports Greg Larry for the Cumberland Times News. Several anti-fracking activists attended the January City Council meeting and encouraged members to oppose the activity in Cumberland and in Maryland. Grim said in a Times-News interview on Friday the council has taken no official position on fracking at this point.
TRUMP LAWSUIT CAN PROCEED: A Montgomery County Circuit Judge delivered a blow Friday to a Clarksburg blogger’s attempt to fend off a defamation lawsuit filed by first lady Melania Trump. Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat writes that Judge Sharon Burrell denied blogger Webster Tarpley’s motion to dismiss the libel claim Trump brought against him after he published a post in August on his website alleging that Trump worked as a high-end escort in New York during the 1990s before marrying Donald Trump.