State Roundup, May 30, 2017

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NEGOTIATING ON REDISTRICTING UNLIKELY: Maryland’s elected leaders seem unlikely to negotiate a deal this year to end partisan gerrymandering, despite overwhelming public support for redistricting reform, pressure from citizen groups to reach a compromise, and a federal lawsuit that could force the state to overhaul its voting maps for upcoming elections, Josh Hicks reports in the Post.

GENERIC DRUG PRICE GOUGING BILL NOW LAW: Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday he will not block a new law giving the Maryland attorney general’s office authority to take generic drug makers to court to challenge allegedly excessive price increases. The groundbreaking measure was one of dozens the governor allowed to become law without his signature, including one putting strict limits on the ability of public schools to expel or suspend their youngest students, Michael Dresser reports for the Sun.

HOGAN VETOES CRIMINAL HISTORY BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a bill that would have barred colleges in the state from asking about criminal history on admissions applications, saying the measure was too restrictive for schools and would jeopardize student safety, reports Josh Hicks for the Post. The action came a day after he rejected legislation that would require businesses with at least 15 employees to provide paid sick leave for their workers.

ON HOGAN’s SICK LEAVE VETO: Following Gov. Hogan’s veto of the sick leave bill, Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal, in an op-ed for Maryland Matters writes that “Public health is not well served when employees show up for work sick. Unfortunately, Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of the paid sick leave bill means that too many Marylanders will continue to face the risk of losing their job if they must take a day off due to their own illness or the illness of a family member.”

HOGAN AS POLITICAL WIZARD: Barry Rascovar writes in column for MarylandReporter that re-election is never far from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s mind. His veto of the paid sick-leave bill crafted by General Assembly Democrats illustrates that point. Not only did Hogan toss the bill in his “reject” pile, he also paved the way for an “alternative reality” by establishing a task force to study the impact of paid sick leave on small businesses and come up with an ostensibly better plan.

LURING MD BREWERS: Virginia officials are seizing on discord in Maryland over how to regulate the growing number of breweries here by trying to entice brewers and entrepreneurs to move south, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore said he and his staff have contacted more than half a dozen Maryland breweries, pitching the commonwealth as more pro-business and pro-beer. A video explainer by Wood tops the article.

BREWERY BILL BECOMES LAW: Gov. Larry Hogan allowed a controversial brewery bill to become law Friday without his signature, a move that enables international liquor producer Diageo to open a new Guinness brewery that the company has planned in Baltimore County. However, Hogan expressed his reservations about the bill, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.

CRAFT BREWER EYES ELKTON: A new craft brewery called the Maryland Beer Company is likely coming to Elkton this summer, possibly locating in the former Cecil Whig printing plant, reports Brad Kroner in the Cecil Whig. Scott McCardell confirmed that he’s aiming to open the brewery and taproom this summer, once he secures equipment, a lease at the building and a county liquor license.

OTHER BILLS BECOME LAW: Mallory Sofastaii of WMAR-TV reports that Gov. Larry Hogan passed over dozens of bills allowing them to become law without his signature.

‘ROLLING COAL’ BANNED: As of Oct. 1, motorists in Maryland who intentionally blow visible exhaust at a person or vehicle can be fined up to $500. “Rolling coal” is done to attack protesters, show disdain for “foreign” or hybrid vehicles or, apparently, as a dirty prank, according to the videos. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed the bill Thursday, writes Katherine Shaver for the Post.

PUSH FOR TOURISM:  Wini Roche, executive director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition, called Gov. Hogan’s executive order requiring schools to start after the Labor Day holiday a win for the state’s tourism businesses. In an interview with Tim Curtis of the Daily Record, Roche discusses where tourists to Maryland come from and what brings them here. She also discussed some of the ways she thinks the state can help the tourism industry.

LESSONS FROM MONTANA: Maryland is not Montana, blogs Josh Kurtz in a commentary for Maryland Matters. Still, there are lessons to be learned here from the recent Montana special congressional election – and from a handful of other political developments that have taken place since President Trump’s election. He outlines four issues Maryland Democrats should pay attention to.

JEALOUS TO ANNOUNCE FOR GOVERNOR: Former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, who served as a surrogate for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) during his 2016 presidential campaign, is expected to formally declare his candidacy for Maryland governor this week, report Ovetta Wiggins and Fenit Nirappil for the Post.

REBEL STATUES IN B’MORE: New Orleans recently took down its Confederate monuments. Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh says she is considering doing the same thing in the city, Luke Broadwater of the Sun writes. “The city does want to remove these,” Pugh told The Baltimore Sun. “We will take a closer look at how we go about following in the footsteps of New Orleans.” Before former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake left office last year, she added explanatory signs in front of four Confederate monuments in Baltimore.

BA CO & IMMIGRATION POLICY: Baltimore County is the latest local jurisdiction wading into the heated issue of immigration policy, with a public hearing scheduled for today on a bill that would call for screening county jail inmates for immigration violations, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun. The County Council’s three Republican members have proposed the measure requiring the county to join a federal program that trains correctional officers in basic immigration enforcement. The council could vote on the bill June 5.

MANAGING INDUSTRIAL SOLAR: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post writes that harnessing the energy of the sun to power our homes and cities was the stuff of dreams for the futurists of the 20th century. Only now that industrial-scale solar power is reality, we must deal with the messy details. That magical, clean energy must be collected by solar arrays, huge fields of glass panels tilted toward Old Sol. Today’s questions, then, are where the fields should be, how big should they be, and what the impact on our county will be. After several false starts and stops, the County Council has wisely adopted a conservative, go-slow approach to the issue.

1st RESPONDERS HONORED: Quick thinking and instinctive bravery earned two Frederick County emergency responders  recognition from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, the statewide agency that oversees first responders, Kate Masters writes in the Frederick News-Post.