State Roundup, February 10, 2017

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KERFUFFLE OVER FROSH RESOLUTION: Maryland’s Republican senators knew they didn’t have the votes to block a resolution that would give Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) more power to sue the federal government. So they tried for a delay. When the motion failed, Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks of the Post report, nine of the 14 Republicans stormed out in protest — a rare sign of unrest in a majority Democratic chamber where longtime Senate President Mike Miller emphasizes civility and decorum.

ZIRKIN BACKS RAPE PROOF CHANGE: Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Thursday endorsed legislation making clear that rape victims need not show they tried to resist their assailants physically to gain a rape conviction, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION: Maryland’s largest immigrant advocacy group plans to push for legislation in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties that affirms protections for undocumented immigrants, a measure similar to one that spawned a bitter debate and executive veto in Howard County this week, Bill Turque of the Post reports.

PAID SICK LEAVE PROPOSALS: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that state lawmakers, intent on passing some version of a law that would require employers to offer paid sick leave to their workers this year, began Thursday to sort through the details of two competing proposals. A proposal by General Assembly Democrats would benefit more people and expect employers to bear the costs. A proposal by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan would apply to fewer people, and would offer smaller employers a tax credit that could cost the state up to $60 million per year.

GOOD SAMARITANS FOR PETS: Animal-rights groups and emergency responders flocked to a Senate committee Thursday in support of legislation to protect from civil liability veterinarians, police, firefighters and other rescue personnel when they provide care to gravely hurt pets whose owners are not available to give permission, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record.

BAIL REFORM IS NECESSARY: In an op-ed for the Sun, Ronald Weich, dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law, offers a first-person account of why bail reform needs to continue. He used to be an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and explains the injustices in the system that would allow people to languish in Rikers Island without ever going to trial.

THE BANISHED: Gov. Larry Hogan has banned 450 people from posting on his official Facebook page over the last two years. The blocked posters include a teacher, business owners and a pastor. Some posted in the last month. Others posted two years ago. They questioned the governor’s stance on the budget, an appointment and President Trump. At least one said she called the governor a “coward” for not being forceful about the impact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act could have on Maryland. Ovetta Wiggins and Fenit Nirappil write about them for the Post.

SZELIGA ON ‘ROAD KILL BILL:’ In an op-ed for the Sun, Del. Kathy Szeliga denounces the transportation project ranking system as the “Road Kill Bill’ and writes that not only does it ignore the needs of rural Maryland, its web of bureaucracy will cost taxpayer’s at least $1 million a year on paper pushing rather than road paving.

QUESTIONABLE TAX PREPARERS: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot has stopped processing tax returns from 20 paid tax preparers who he says have filed a high volume of questionable returns, writes Sarah Gantz in the Sun. A full list of the 20 tax preparers, including nine in Baltimore, is available at www.marylandtaxes.com.

MIZEUR PROTESTS DAP: Former Del. Heather Mizeur, a former Democratic candidate for governor, led a flash-mob style protest in front of Government House Wednesday night, calling on Gov. Larry Hogan to oppose federal actions related to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mizeur called on Hogan to urge President Donald Trump to delay action on the Dakota Access Pipeline until an environmental impact study can be performed, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

FREDERICK COUNTY ATTY PAY RAISE: After debating on Friday how much was too much, the Frederick County delegation voted to support a pay raise for the county’s state’s attorney, writes Danielle Gaines in the Frederick News-Post. The salary for the state’s attorney is $154,333 and hasn’t changed for at least two four-year terms. Set by state law, it is tied to the salary for state circuit court judges.

FIGHTING ADDICTION: Valerie Bonk of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail writes about one man’s struggle to free himself of drug addiction and how deaths in his family at first hurt, then helped his chances for recovery.

  • The heroin epidemic strangling the area and the nation has wrecked untold numbers of families, taxed legal systems and medical providers, and snuffed-out scores of victims who had dreams before opiates ruined their lives, writes Dave McMillion of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. Maryland Public Television decided it had to react with equal force. MPT has also teamed up with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to help those struggling with addiction, incorporated educational efforts and turned to other ways of reaching people online. MPT produced a 40-minute documentary called “Breaking Heroin’s Grip: Road to Recovery,” set to be broadcast Saturday at 7 p.m.
  • Heather Wolford of the Cumberland Times News writes that Allegany County will soon implement a new treatment option for people who overdose on opioid-related drugs. The program will be the only one of its kind in Maryland. The county this month is launching the Drug Abatement Response Team program, designed to place a person into treatment within 24 hours after they suffer an opioid-related overdose.
  • Here’s a direct link to MPT’s Breaking Heroin’s Grip section.