State Roundup, April 20, 2017

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MIXED LEGISLATIVE OUTCOMES FOR BLACK CAUCUS: The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus ended the 2017 session with mixed outcomes for their priority legislative agenda. The General Assembly passed legislation on prescription drug affordability and a ban on pre-kindergarten suspension. But the House failed to vote on controversial medical marijuana legislation before time ran out. And a bill regarding bail did not get to the floor of that same chamber, Brianna Rhodes of the Capital News Service reports.

RX POT SESSION UNLIKELY: Prospects of a special session on medical cannabis licenses continue to be dim as the leaders of the House and Senate have yet to agree to a bill or even to sit down and talk, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.  An effort to address a lack of minority business participation in the state’s fledgling medical marijuana growing industry failed at midnight on the final night of the 2017 General Assembly session. Despite having what appeared to be enough votes for passage, the House failed to take the final roll call before the clock struck midnight.

I-270 WORK SET FOR FALL: Work should begin this fall on a $100 million project aimed at relieving congestion on Interstate 270 through Frederick and Montgomery counties, Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post reports. Gov. Larry Hogan announced the plans for the project at a news conference Wednesday while overlooking the interstate near Rockville.

HOGAN CRITICIZES PURPLE LINE JUDGE: Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday said the federal judge whose ruling has delayed construction of the Purple Line has a conflict of interest stemming from his connections to opponents of the light-rail project, Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat reports. Hogan was holding a press conference at Park Potomac to announce proposed traffic improvements to I-270 when he was asked about the construction of the 16.2-mile light-rail line, on which the state has spent millions on design and engineering work required in advance of construction.

POT USE & POLICE RECRUITMENT: Regulators in Maryland have eased restrictions on the amount of marijuana prospective police officers may have smoked before being hired in the state — a move Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis championed to boost his department’s hiring efforts, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun.

SHE-CRAB POPULATION UP: There are more spawning-age female blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay than there have been in at least 28 years, a sign that efforts to help the species withstand natural population swings are working. An annual survey of the bay’s crab population found that there are fewer crabs overall in the bay than there were a year ago, however — about 455 million, down from 550 million, Scott Dance reports in the Sun.

BOARD BEMOANS DANCE DEPARTURE: Baltimore County’s school board bemoaned the loss of Superintendent Dallas Dance at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night. Dance abruptly resigned earlier that day, Jonna McKone reports for WYPR-FM.

KAMENETZ, GOP COUNCIL AT ODDS OVER ICE: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is defending his executive order codifying police and correction officers’ practices barring cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Kamenetz talked about a variety of topics with C4 on WBAL Wednesday, a day after County Council Republicans proposed a measure that would counter Kamenetz’s order issued earlier this month.

BWI NOISE DISPUTE: The Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation are weighing into a dispute between the neighbors of BWI and the Federal Aviation Administration, encouraging the agency to act swiftly to alter flight patterns that are causing “unacceptable and unsustainable” noise, writes John Fritze of the Sun.

METRO PROPOSAL TARGETS UNIONS: Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld plunged into the high-stakes debate over how to save the troubled transit agency Wednesday by proposing far-reaching changes to extract major concessions from labor unions and seek new, dedicated funds from local governments to provide $500 million a year for equipment and maintenance, Robert McCartney reports in the Post.