State Roundup, April 14, 2017

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FUNDRAISING COMPLAINT: Democrats are asking state election officials to investigate whether an appointee of Gov. Larry Hogan broke campaign laws by raising money for the governor during the General Assembly session. The Maryland Democratic Party filed a complaint Tuesday alleging Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. solicited campaign donations for Hogan one week before the session ended Monday, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports.

  • Maryland law prohibits state officeholders, and people acting on their behalf, from soliciting campaign contributions or advertising upcoming fundraisers during the 90-day legislative session that ended Monday, writes Fenit Nirappil for the Post.
  • Del. Pat McDonough, a candidate for Baltimore County executive who believes Redmer will also seek that office,  called Redmer’s email “a clear violation of state law” in a press release.

BAIL ALTERNATIVES: Having dodged a legislative bullet aimed at preserving the status quo, a Maryland Judiciary rule will go into effect July 1 calling on district court commissioners and judges to prefer alternatives to bail when imposing conditions of release on defendants to ensure their appearance at trial, the Daily Record’s Steve Lash reports.

FIRST, SCRAP LIQUOR LAWS: The editorial board of the Sun addresses the General Assembly’s newly passed laws to spur the state’s craft brewery industry, which wouldn’t have happened if the Guinness owning giant corporation wasn’t involved. It also looks at Maryland’s antiquated liquor laws and Comptroller Peter Franchot’s effort to overhaul them, writing that “that If we find fault with Mr. Franchot’s effort it is only that his aim isn’t to scrap Maryland’s liquor laws altogether and start from scratch. The patchwork of laws that govern alcohol sales in Maryland isn’t only anti-competitive, it is prone to corruption.”

TRUMP EFFECT ON THE SESSION: In a piece for the Daily Record, Bryan Sears interviews pols and observers about the effect that a President Donald Trump had upon the 2017 session in Annapolis, which was Gov. Hogan’s third session — and heading into the re-election season. Of course, plenty of Democrats tried to tie the popular Republican governor to the unpopular Republican president. Did it work?

QUOTE UNQUOTE: Daily Record staff compiled some of the more interesting quotes of the session, including this from Del. Dereck Davis: “We’re just short of ‘The Jerry Springer Show.”

VAN HOLLEN SEEKS PASSENGER BILL: Seizing on the uproar over the forced removal of a man from a United Express flight over the weekend, Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Wednesday he is readying legislation to prohibit airlines from forcibly removing passengers due to overbooking or to free up seats for crew. The Sun’s John Fritze is reporting that the Maryland Democrat released a letter to colleagues seeking sponsors for what he has called the “Customers Not Cargo Act.”

CURE FOR VACANT OFFICE PARKS: Montgomery County’s lonely office parks could get a boost with the passage of legislation creating a state grant program for businesses locating or expanding in the area, Bethesda Beat’s Bethany Rodgers reports.  Under the “Make Office Vacancies Extinct Program,” the state would give a boost to county initiatives aimed at drawing tenants into empty commercial space.

VAN HOLLEN ON I-81 CORRIDOR PANEL: U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen announced Thursday that he will take former Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat on the I-81 Corridor Coalition’s steering committee, Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail reports.  Van Hollen, D-Md., is the only federal official from Maryland to serve on the panel.

4th CIRCUIT LEANS LEFT: Taking a breather from the busy legislative session, Ann Marimow of the Post writes about the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases from Maryland and South Carolina, as well as North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. “For years, attorneys pursuing liberal-leaning policies viewed the 4th Circuit as hostile territory for civil rights and for criminal defendants, and as a reliable backstop on national security policies. But that is changing,” she reports.