State Roundup, June 23, 2017

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HOGAN QUESTIONS OBAMACARE ROLLBACK: Legislation unveiled by Senate Republican leaders to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health care law ran into swift internal opposition Thursday, throwing into doubt the GOP’s ability to make good on a years-long campaign promise to roll back the program. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, meanwhile, joined a chorus of centrist Republicans who are concerned about how the legislation would affect their states, John Fritze and Andrea Mitchell report for the Sun.

AND NOW FOR SPORTS BETTING: Sports betting is the latest frontier for the expansion of legalized gambling in Maryland, panelists at the Maryland Live! casino Thursday made clear, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter. It is crucial to “get the federal government out of the way” of sports gambling, said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, which sponsored the event touting the industry’s contribution to local jobs and nonprofits.

MD PUSHES PURPLE LINE APPEAL: Maryland is pushing forward with its appeal of federal Judge Richard Leon’s decision to call for a new environmental study of the Purple Line, reports Andrew Metcalf in Bethesda Beat. On Wednesday, the state asked the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to provide a stay of Leon’s August decision to vacate the project’s federal approval while it appeals his other ruling calling for the new study.

PROBE SOUGHT INTO PG STUDENT GRADES: State lawmakers from Prince George’s County are urging the Maryland State Department of Education to investigate claims that school officials altered the grades of hundreds of students to meet graduation-rate targets, Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports.

NEW STATE ED BOARD MEMBERS: Donna St. George of the Post reports that Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday he has tapped four new members of the Maryland State Board of Education.

GOOD NEWS IN EDUCATION: Former state school Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, in an op-ed for the Sun, outlines the good news in Maryland education, including that Maryland schools still rank No. 1 in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. And Maryland’s public high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, and the drop-out percentage at an all-time low.

OPEN MEETINGS BOARD CHIDES ROCK HALL: After reviewing complaints from a citizen, the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board has determined that the Rock Hall Mayor and Council illegally met behind closed doors twice last winter, Dorian Mitchell reports for the Kent County News. An opinion issued Wednesday, June 14 states the council violated Section 3-305 of the Open Meetings Act by “secretly discussing matters that did not fall within an exception to the Act.”

Jim Shea

SHEA RUNS FOR GOVERNOR: Baltimore attorney Jim Shea joined the increasingly crowded Democratic race for governor Thursday night, seeking to turn the Larry Hogan game plan against the incumbent Republican. The former chairman of the law firm Venable LLP formally declared his candidacy during a fundraiser at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Shea, a former chairman of the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, became the fourth Democrat to enter the June 26, 2018, primary contest.

DELANEY DELAYS GOV. DECISION: U.S. Rep. John Delaney, who previously said he would make an announcement at the end of June about whether he’ll run for governor, said in a tweet Thursday that he’ll now make a decision at the end of July, Andrew Metcalf reports for Bethesda Beat.

BAKER & THE DEM FLAMEOUT: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that he’s been having “a hard time separating Rushern Baker’s announcement this week that he is running for governor with the Democrats’ deflating defeat in a special congressional election in Georgia – events that occurred just hours apart. Baker no doubt deserves better. He is a genuine top-tier contender for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and as Prince George’s County executive and a former state legislator, he has the kind of pedigree that Maryland voters often seek in their governors.”

A CROFTON RACE? In a column for the Annapolis Capital, Michael Collins opines that the latest campaign for delegate in District 33 is moving forward faster than previous ones and may tip the balance of representation in the district. Ten years ago District 33 was represented state Sen. Janet Greenip of Crofton, and Dels. Bob Costa of Deale, James King of Gambrills and Tony McConkey of Severna Park. After 2018, the entire District 33 delegation may hail from Crofton.

IMMIGRATION RUSE: Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal, in a commentary for Maryland Matters, writes that from the White House to the State House, many people were quick to condemn what they see as permissive U.S. immigration laws after two Rockville High students were charged with sexual assault of another student. Those charges were dropped, and we have a lot to learn from the situation.

IMMIGRATION PACT FOR ARUNDEL, FEDS: Anne Arundel County and federal immigration enforcement officials have reached an agreement that will add the county to a list of jurisdictions that screen inmates in local jails for immigration violations, reports Amanda Yeager for the Annapolis Capital. Federal officials finalized a 287(g) contract with the county on Monday, according to a memorandum of agreement released by County Executive Steve Schuh’s office.

COLUMBIA IN BALTIMORE STYLE: MarylandReporter.com’s Len Lazarick revisits familiar themes from his 12-month series on Columbia’s 50th birthday with this long essay in Baltimore Style magazine. Some of the fresh quotes made it into the last part of the series that ran here last week and in the last chapter of the book that came out earlier this month.