State Roundup, May 18, 2017

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POT GROWER GETS LICENSE: Regulators have issued the first license to grow medical marijuana in Maryland, allowing a sprawling 2-acre warehouse in Anne Arundel County to immediately start cultivating the drug, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to grant final approval to a company called ForwardGro, more than four years after the state first legalized the medicinal use of pot. “A new industry in Maryland has been launched,” said Patrick Jameson, executive director of the commission. “They can start to grow immediately.”

COURT PUSHES PURPLE LINE CASE: It appears that the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., may be moving at a swifter pace than the federal District Court in the handling of the long-running Purple Line lawsuit, Andrew Metcalf reports for Bethesda Beat.  On Wednesday, the Court of Appeals ordered the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in 2014, to respond by 4 p.m. Tuesday to Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s request that the appeals court force federal Judge Richard Leon to issue a ruling in the case. The court also asked the state to then respond to the plaintiffs’ remarks by noon May 25.

TARNISHING PIMLICO: Just three months ago, the Stronach Group, owner of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, responded to a Maryland Stadium Authority study of what it would take to bring the latter track to Triple Crown caliber with a willingness to engage in talks about a public-private partnership to finance upgrades. But with the Preakness fast approaching on Saturday, they’re back to their old tricks, intimating that the second leg of the Triple Crown might not be run in Baltimore much longer. The editorial board of the Sun takes a look at how Pimlico fell into disrepair and what can be done about it.

DELAY ENDORSEMENTS, MOON URGES: State Del. David Moon is urging his fellow Democrats not to endorse any 2018 gubernatorial candidates until next winter, hoping to avoid perceptions of an anointed favorite in what is expected to be a crowded primary. But some Democrats are questioning that strategy, saying the best hope of unseating popular Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is to rally around a challenger early in the process, writes the Post’s Josh Hicks.

DEM CANDIDATE ISSUES ED STATEMENT: The first Democrat to enter Maryland’s 2018 governor’s race announced his first major policy proposal on Wednesday, calling for every school in the state to offer computer science classes and eventually require them for all students, the Post’s Josh Hicks reports.  Alec Ross, a Baltimore entrepreneur and best-selling author, said his plan would cost the state about $10 million a year, or less than 1 percent of its annual K-12 budget.

REZNIK WON’T RUN FOR CONGRESS: Del. Kirill Reznik of District 39 announced today that he will not run for Congress in 2018 in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District. A progressive favorite among Montgomery County Democrats, Reznik released a statement on his personal Facebook page, Ryan Miner of the Miner Detail blog writes.

FIRMS SUE MO CO OVER PESTICIDE BAN: Attorneys for a group of lawn care companies and homeowners asked a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge Wednesday to invalidate a county law barring the use of certain pesticides from private lawns, arguing that the products are well regulated by state and federal agencies, Bill Turque writes in the Post.

PEDESTRIANS AT RISK: Capital News Service is reporting in MarylandReporter.com that at least 138 pedestrians have been struck by vehicles in the past eight years on a lethal two-mile stretch of state highway that runs through Langley Park, a low-income immigrant community in the Washington suburbs. Eight have died. When asked about the high number of casualties, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration, which is responsible for maintaining University, said pedestrians are often to blame.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the Greater Baltimore Committee annual meeting. GBC photo

SUPPORT YOUR POLICE: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein called on Baltimore business leaders to support city police officers to help control violence, Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports. Rosenstein said the majority of city police are “honorable people trying to do the right thing and they deserve your support and they need your support.” His comments came this week at the Greater Baltimore Committee’s annual meeting, where he was given an award for courage in public service for the 12 years he spent as U.S. attorney for Maryland.

ROSENSTEIN TAPS SPECIAL COUNSEL: Under intense pressure to ensure independence in the federal investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel Wednesday to oversee the probe — a move that ratchets up the mounting scrutiny of the increasingly embattled presidency of Donald Trump, John Fritze of the Sun reports.

SEVERNA PARK MAN ON FBI CHIEF LIST: A Severna Park man who headed the FBI’s field office in Baltimore is under consideration to replace ousted director James B. Comey, writes John Fritze in the Sun. Richard A. McFeely, the FBI’s special agent-in-charge in Baltimore from 2009 until he took a bureau job in Washington three years later, was set to meet Wednesday with President Trump, the White House said.

BROWN BILL WOULD CURB FBI CHIEF FIRING: Freshman U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown is proposing legislation that would restrict a U.S. president from dismissing the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation without “good cause” and amend a 1968 law that limits the grounds for removal to “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office,” Arelis Hernandez reports in the Post.

CUMMINGS ACCUSES GOP: Earlier in the day, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday accused Republicans of slow walking their probe into President Donald Trump’s interaction with fired FBI director James Comey, John Fritze reports for the Sun. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, an outspoken critic of the Trump administration amid questions about Russia’s involvement in last year’s elections, said Republicans on his committee are “ignoring these scandals” and accused the White House of obstruction.

CLINTON TO SPEAK IN BALTIMORE: Former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will speak at a fundraiser in Baltimore next month for a program that pays for students to travel to Israel — marking the Democrat’s firstpublic appearance in the state since last year’s primary election, John Fritze writes in the Sun.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKS! This has nothing to do with politics, but how could we ignore the fact that Brooks Robinson, the longest serving player for the Orioles and probably the nicest in baseball history, turns 80 today? Mike Klingaman of the Sun reports that the longest-tenured Oriole player of all time (23 years), Robinson planned to embrace his birthday as he has his baseball achievements — with little fanfare. “We’ll probably go to dinner somewhere,” he said from his home in Owings Mills. “Nothing special, really.”