State Roundup, May 10, 2017

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OPIOID SUMMIT: Gov. Larry Hogan and the leaders of Virginia and the District of Columbia pledged Tuesday to wage a coordinated fight against the epidemic of heroin and other opioid overdoses afflicting the region, Michael Dresser writes for the Sun.

ROSENSTEIN FIRES OFF COMEY MEMO: John Fritze of the Sun writes that when the time came for the Trump administration to explain why it had fired the embattled FBI director, the job fell not to the president or attorney general, but to the former U.S. attorney from Maryland with a reputation for putting the law above politics. It was Rod J. Rosenstein, sworn in just two weeks ago as deputy attorney general, who laid out the biting case for sacking James B. Comey on Tuesday. His three-page memo, arguing that the FBI’s credibility had “suffered substantial damage” during Comey’s tenure, will be closely scrutinized in the political maelstrom to come.

REDRAWING DISTRICTS: A day after Gov. Hogan vetoed the Democrats’ approach to drawing congressional districts, Sheilah Kast of WYPR asks Len Lazarick, editor of Maryland Reporter, to recap how the system works, and the pressures to change it. Boundaries drawn after the 2010 Census helped Democrats gain a seat in Congress, and now a lawsuit challenges whether that round of redistricting violated the U.S. Constitution. Kast also speaks with Tufts professor Moon Duchin on how geometry can challenge gerrymandered districts.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME ENFORCEMENT DROPS: Maryland is prosecuting its fewest environmental crimes in at least two decades as Gov. Larry Hogan fulfills promises to ease regulatory burdens on businesses, Scott Dance of the Sun reports.The work force dedicated to enforcing laws and regulations that protect air quality and the Chesapeake Bay has been shrinking since the second term of former Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat. The trend prompted Democrats in the General Assembly to force the Republican administration to spend $400,000 to hire more environmental inspectors in the coming fiscal year.

HOGAN TAPS ACA CRITIC: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday appointed a leading critic of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act to chair the state’s health-care commission, drawing immediate criticism from Democrats. Robert E. Moffit has served as a member of the commission, which oversees hospitals and health care in the state, since 2015, reports Josh Hicks in the Post.

PROGRESSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO HOGAN: Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, said he will run for governor, ending months of speculation that began earlier this year when he told the Baltimore Sun he was considering the campaign. “It’s no longer a trial balloon,” said Madaleno, who is in his third term in the Senate. Madaleno, who turns 52 in June, said he plans to run as  progressive alternative to Hogan. Bryan Sears writes about Madaleno for the Daily Record.

CARSON LAUDED BY HOGAN OFFICIAL: A top Hogan administration official said Tuesday that Ben Carson is a leader in urban renewal efforts who is aware of the challenges facing Baltimore, Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports. Ken Holt, secretary of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, said he and Gov. Larry Hogan met about a month ago with Carson, a retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who was tapped by President Donald J. Trump to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HARRIS HEALTH CARE VOTE PROTESTED: Around 30 protesters rallied outside the Harford County office of U.S. Rep. Andy Harris  on Monday to voice frustration over the congressman’s vote in favor of the Republican health care bill, the American Health Care Act of 2017, reports Brad Kroner for the Cecil Whig.  Though Harris was not inside his Bel Air office — he was in Washington, D.C. — protesters continued chanting, criticizing his vote on health care.

1st OFFICIAL FREDERICK EXEC CANDIDATE: The first official campaign kickoff in the 2018 contest for Frederick County executive will be held Thursday. Regina Williams, the county government’s former budget officer, will hold an event at her family’s business, J Bar W Ranch, on Thursday to announce her candidacy for the Republican nomination, Danielle Gaines reports for the Frederick News Post.

SOLAR FACILITIES RULES: Farmers turned out to the Frederick County Council meeting on Tuesday to support a bill that establishes rules for large solar facilities in the county’s rural areas. The turnout is a bit of a turnaround for farmers on the bill, which has been introduced multiple times at the council before hitting snags and being withdrawn, Danielle Gaines writes in the Frederick News Post.

MYERS APOLOGIZES: LeRoy Myers Jr., Washington County commissioner and former delegate, apologized Tuesday for disparaging remarks made last week regarding South Cumberland. Myers spoke at a meeting of the South Cumberland Business and Civic Association at the Cumberland Outdoor Club. “I wanted to take the opportunity to come here tonight to tell you, if I offended you, I would like to ask your forgiveness,” said Myers. Greg Larry reports the story for the Cumberland Times-News.