State Roundup, June 1, 2017

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PURPLE LINE WORK SCALED BACK: Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn on Wednesday ordered the companies contracted to design and build the light-rail Purple Line to immediately scale back pre-construction work, saying the state needs to cut costs while it appeals a legal ruling blocking the project. Katherine Shaver of the Post reports the story.

6th DISTRICT GERRYMANDER SUIT: Seven individuals challenging Maryland’s 6th Congressional District as unconstitutional are asking a federal court to overturn the state’s voting map or block officials from using it in the 2018 election, reports Josh Hicks in the Post.

OPIOID CRISIS HITS EVERYWHERE: A father with children. A 63-year-old grandmother with a 4-year-old granddaughter. A son who struggles with the pain he caused his family. Anne Arundel County’s struggle to contain the daily battle against heroin and opioids encompasses all demographics. Inside a courtroom on Wednesday, family members, law enforcement officials and workers with the court’s Adult Drug Treatment Court program gathered to celebrate the success stories, writes Phil Davis for the Annapolis Capital. It was a diverse group.

REFORM ON TAP: Chuck Ferrar, owner of Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis, writes in an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital that his business and “other locally owned bars, taverns and package stores in Maryland employ thousands and generate millions of dollars for the state. I joined the Reform on Tap Task Force to speak up for the small business owners in our state who work hard and play by the rules.”

CASH BAIL BOONDOGGLE: In an op-ed for the Sun, attorney Todd Oppenheim writes from personal experience about the cash bail system and what his does to his client. He writes, “Two of my recent clients were incarcerated before trial because they couldn’t afford bail, though neither received jail sentences at the end of their cases. The state even dropped one of the matters. These two individuals’ experiences provide important insight to what a future Maryland justice system might look like without cash bail.”

EDUCATION & CRIMINAL RECORDS: The editorial board for the Sun opines that the letter Gov. Larry Hogan sent to legislative leaders explaining his veto of a bill that would have limited the use of criminal history records in higher education admissions includes some scary suggestions that if it were enacted, it would force colleges and universities to admit rapists and other violent criminals. But the actual bill would not prevent colleges from asking about criminal history and would not stop them from denying admittance to any student because of it. What it would do is to force Maryland’s public colleges and universities and private ones that receive state aid to consider an applicant’s merits first

JEALOUS ANNOUNCES FOR GOVERNOR: Ben Jealous announced his campaign for Maryland governor in Baltimore Wednesday, touting his ties to the city and his experience as a community organizer, Erin Cox reports in the Sun. Jealous, a Democrat and former head of the NAACP, pitched himself as a progressive devoted to aggressively implementing a broad agenda of civil rights, social justice and economic reform.

SEX HARASSMENT CLAIM AGAINST COMMISSIONER: A Washington County employee has accused county Commissioner LeRoy E. Myers Jr. of taking “predatory and offensive sexual and related actions” against her, beginning with a county business trip to  South Korea, in October, reports Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

2 FOR MO CO COUNCIL? Two Montgomery County school board members say they’re open to entering the race for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council, Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat reports. Both Rebecca Smondrowski and Jill Ortman-Fouse report that they’re concentrated on their current roles for the time being. But they aren’t ruling out a shift to a council post.

B’MORE BIZ GROUP ON CITY POLICE BUDGET:  Baltimore’s leading business group is urging the City Council not to cut the Police Department budget, arguing that reducing spending during a crime spike would put the public at risk, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports. Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said in a letter to the council that public safety is elected officials’ first responsibility.

ANTI-HATE RESOLUTION IN ARUNDEL: An Anne Arundel County councilman says he plans to introduce a resolution denouncing hatred and racism when the council reconvenes next week. Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital writes that Councilman Pete Smith, D-Severn, is working on a draft of the resolution, which he said will address “what’s been happening in the country for quite some time but certainly in the past few weeks.”

BOWIE RECALL EFFORT: The fate of an effort to initiate a recall election for Bowie City Council member Diane Polangin will likely hinge on the county’s count of how many registered voters there are in the district. According to the city charter, verified signatures are needed from 25 percent of the registered voters in a particular district (or city-wide) to initiate a recall election, John McNamara reports for the Bowie Blade.