State Roundup, April 25, 2017

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ME’s OFFICE OVERBURDENED: The state medical examiner’s office, overburdened by deaths related to the opioid epidemic, will be able to hire three additional examiners, state health officials confirmed. Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes that examiners have been struggling to perform autopsies on schedule, and the office already has run afoul of national workload standards.

NEW DRUG, NEW OD DEATHS: Health and law enforcement officials around the state are bracing for an uptick in drug overdoses as a deadly synthetic opioid only meant for use in large animals has hit Maryland streets. The drug, carfentanil, already has been linked to two overdose deaths in Anne Arundel County and one in Frederick County, Andrea McDaniels of the Sun reports.

ROSENSTEIN CONFIRMATION: John Fritze of the Sun reports that Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein is poised to be confirmed to serve as deputy attorney general after clearing a procedural vote Monday with bipartisan support. The Senate voted 92-6 to cut off debate on Rosenstein’s nomination to be the No. 2 official at the Department of Justice and move to a final vote, which is expected on Wednesday.

  • As a young federal prosecutor in the 1990s, Rosenstein played a key role in the highly charged independent investigation of the President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, over their investments in a failed real estate company known as Whitewater. Rosenstein now is poised to take over another sensitive investigation: the FBI counterintelligence inquiry into whether President Donald Trump’s current or former aides colluded with Russian intelligence to interfere with last year’s election, Joseph Tafani of the Tribune reports.

HoCo SCHOOL BOARD, SUPT. CLASH: A new majority took over the Howard County school board in December and passed sweeping measures to assert its authority over superintendent Renee Foose, writes Tim Prudente in the Sun. In response, she sued them. Now the superintendent and school board are locked in a costly power struggle with dueling accusations and no lack of recrimination.

OYSTER TEST IN PATAPSCO: Chesapeake Bay advocates are testing a strategy to give oysters a second chance in the Patapsco River, Scott Dance writes in the Sun. Oyster shells carrying 3 million speck-sized baby oysters clattered off the Chesapeake Bay Foundation boat Patricia Campbell on Monday and onto a recently laid bed of stone just between Fort Carroll and the Key Bridge.

IMPALLARIA SENTENCED TO TWO DAYS: A delegate from Harford County was ordered to serve two days in jail last week for drunken driving, after a judge suspended the rest of his 60-day sentence, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. Del. Richard Impallaria was convicted in January of driving while intoxicated in Ocean City last summer during the annual Maryland Association of Counties summer conference.

GRASSROOTS ENERGY: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that as the 2018 gubernatorial election cycle heats up, there’s a grassroots energy we haven’t seen for a long time – along with a healthy dose of disorganization … Party leaders in hide-bound Maryland, who have unique staying power, will always be a factor. But this time the nominating process for governor feels wide open.

MO CO VOTER ROLLS: Montgomery election officials said Monday they will review registration procedures in response to allegations from a conservative watchdog group that the county’s rolls are packed with ineligible voters, Bill Turque of the Post reports.

BEST HIGH SCHOOLS: Maryland high schools are among the best in the nation, with four ranking among the top 150 in the country, according to a new list from U.S. News & World Report.  David Arnott of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that the list, published Tuesday morning, ranks more than 2,600 high schools across the country based on state high school proficiency tests, disadvantaged students’ performance on those tests, graduation rate, and then Advanced Placement test data.

SON FULFILLS FATHER’s DREAM: Karen Hosler of WYPR-FM looks back at the life and political career of Lawrence J. Hogan Sr.,  father of Maryland’s governor, died Thursday at age 88 after suffering a stroke. But he lived long enough to see his son fulfill his own political dreams.