State Roundup, March 21, 2017

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Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford was among the state and county officials helping to kick off Columbia’s celebration of its 50th birthday Sunday morning.

HOUSE REVISES TRUST ACT: The House of Delegates watered down a bill aimed at curtailing how much Maryland law enforcement officials can cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The Sun’s Pamela Wood writes that the bill, introduced as the Maryland Law Enforcement and Trust Act, would have halted programs in which local jails screen arrestees for immigration violations. The revised bill allows the jail programs to continue, but limits the jails to holding people for immigration reasons only if a judge signs off on a warrant.

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS RELEASED: Three Maryland counties released undocumented immigrants last month despite requests from federal authorities to keep them in jail, according to a report Monday that is a result of one of President Donald Trump’s first executive orders, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

HOGAN REDISTRICTING PLAN KILLED: For the second year in a row, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly rejected Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to take away lawmakers’ power to draw congressional districts. Without discussion, a key House committee on Monday killed Hogan’s proposal to cede that authority — and the less controversial power to General Assembly district boundaries — to a nonpartisan redistricting commission. Erin Cox writes the story for the Sun.

Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch announced their support for a redistricting process by a commission that would only happen if five neighboring states agree to do so.

CROSSOVER DAY BUSY-NESS: Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks write in the Post about just how busy crossover day was in Annapolis yesterday, with the House passing bills that would strictly limit the ability of local police to cooperate with federal immigration agents and bar pharmaceutical companies from drastically raising prices for essential drugs, among others.

DRUG PRICE GOUGING: Maryland’s attorney general could sue drug companies for price gouging under a bill approved by the House of Delegates Monday. Under the legislation a drug price increase by more than 50% would trigger a report to the attorney general, who would have power to demand an explanation for the increase, Erin Cox writes in the Sun.

POLITICS TAINTS FRACKING ANNOUNCEMENT:  For a supporter of a ban on fracking, Gov. Larry Hogan’s announcement of support Friday should have been a win, writes Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. But you can’t take the politics out of politics and at least part of Hogan’s comments directed at Senate President Mike Miller left Sen. Bobby Zirkin bitter about his invitation to stand next to the governor as the announcement was made.

CHILD MARRIAGES BAN: In addressing the proposed bill to ban all child marriages, some delegates got personal. Heather Cobun of the Daily record writes that Del. William G. Folden joined the military at age 17, leaving behind his high school sweetheart. Despite feeling “fearless,” at the time, he did not propose. More than 25 years later, he’s glad he did not tie the knot.

  • Jacob Taylor of the Capital News Service writes that in the first book of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” Count Olaf perpetrates a dastardly plan to gain control of the Baudelaire fortune by forcing orphaned 14-year-old Violet to marry him. Surrounding adults furiously condemn him but learn that he is well-insulated by arcane laws: Violet is underage, but Olaf, as her legal guardian, has the power to authorize her marriage. This is the plot of a gothic fantasy novel, but Olaf’s scheme could likely work in Maryland and many other U.S. states.

ANTIBIOTIC-FREE CHICKENS: Legislation advancing in both chambers of the General Assembly could make all chicken raised in Maryland free from antibiotics, Erin Cox writes in the Sun. The Senate and House of Delegates separately on Monday passed bills forbidding chicken companies from routinely giving birds antibiotics used to treat humans, unless the animals are sick.

HOUSING VOUCHERS: The House of Delegates passed a bill Monday night that would prevent landlords from refusing to lease a home to a person merely because they have a government voucher to help pay their rent, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports.

HOGAN ASKED OPPOSE GOP HEALTH PLAN: John Fritze of the Sun reports that four Democrats in Maryland’s congressional delegation held a rally in Annapolis on Monday in an effort to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan to publicly oppose the Republican health care plan headed toward a vote in Congress later this week. Democrats have been trying for months to get Hogan, a Republican, to speak out against the repeal of Obamacare, which could mean hundreds of thousands of state residents would lose coverage and that the budget would take a $1 billion-plus hit under proposed cuts to Medicaid.

SCHRADER HEARING: Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters writes about Monday evening’s hearing at last for acting health secretary Dennis Schrader, saying his wife Sandy Schrader, a former Republican state senator, is a key ally in getting his confirmation approved despite the bad vibes surrounding the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

FORUMS SET FOR DEM PARTY CHAIR HOPEFULS: The Maryland Democratic Party on Monday announced the first two forums in what it said would be a series of events featuring candidates for state party chair. For the moment, the only confirmed candidate is the interim chair, former Marriott executive and 8th District congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews. Former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin appears to be testing the waters, Bill Turque of the Post reports.

RX POT DISPENSARY IN ARUNDEL: The first medical marijuana dispensary in Anne Arundel County could open in Annapolis where a pizza parlor and tattoo studio now sit. The county’s administrative hearing officer is scheduled to consider the request, which requires special exception approval, on April 6. It will be the first application for a medical cannabis dispensary to go through the county’s approval process, writes Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital.

TRACK PG CAR USE PANEL: Prince George’s County officials unveiled a Web page on Monday that allows residents to track meetings of the newly launched Vehicle Use Review Board and submit public comment via an online submission page, Arelis Hernandez of the Post writes. The three-member board is reviewing the county government’s rules for providing vehicle and gasoline benefits and stipends to Council members and their top two administrative officials.

B’MORE RAISES MINIMUM WAGE: The Baltimore City Council on Monday voted in a veto-proof majority for a bill that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2023.  Under the bill there would be gradual increases in the minimum wage starting in 2019. Until then, the city would be tied to the state minimum wage, now $8.75 an hour, but will rise to $9.25 an hour this July, and $10.10 an hour in July 2018. Scott Wykoff of WBAL-AM reports the story.

ED HALE JR. TO RUN:  Ed Hale Jr. said he is planning a run for the Baltimore County Council in 2018, Alison Knezevich writes in the Sun. The 50-year-old businessman, a Republican, is running in District 3, which covers the northern part of the county. He is the son of Ed Hale Sr., the Baltimore developer, founder of the Baltimore Blast and former CEO of First Mariner Bancorp.

  • Sam D

    It looks like there’s a wrong link for the Schrader Hearing section.

  • Jules

    Been to Paradise Reef, very nice