State Roundup, June 26, 2017

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LAWS TAKE EFFECT: New laws taking effect in Maryland on July 1 include steps to provide funding for Planned Parenthood to mitigate potential federal cuts and require schools to teach about the dangers of opioid addiction. Also going into effect is a law to help craft brewers. The AP provides information on eight for this photo gallery.

ADDICTION CRISIS, PERSONALIZED: In an article for Baltimore Brew, Jo Martin writes about Maryland’s opioid crisis, from the point of view of a journalist whose son has been dealing with addiction for three decades.Three years ago, she writes, sounding the alarm about “a dramatic increase in heroin-related emergency room visits in Maryland,” Gov. Martin O’Malley announced a four-pronged response to the crisis, including expanded access to the life-saving drug naloxone and other measures. Since then, 4,489 Marylanders have died from drug and alcohol intoxication, with Baltimore the epicenter at 1,392.

RX POT GROWERS SEEK STANDING: Lawyers for an association of medical cannabis growers and processors are asking Maryland’s highest court to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit that could further delay the troubled program, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

MD UNDER GOP HEALTH PLAN: Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports that Maryland could have to decide between cutting coverage or spending a lot more money to fund health care if the U.S. Senate Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act were to become law.  The Better Care Reconciliation Act unveiled Thursday would cut federal funding for Maryland’s Medicaid expansion as well as subsidies available on the individual health exchange market while repealing the individual mandate requiring consumers to have insurance.

STATE CENTER IN COURT: The Baltimore City Circuit Court will hold a hearing today and make a decision on a request by the developer of the State Center redevelopment asking Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration to provide information about why it nixed the project, writes Holden Wilen for the Baltimore Business Journal.

HOGAN SEEKS PG SCHOOL PROBE: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Sunday asked the State Board of Education for a “complete, thorough and exhaustive” investigation into alleged tampering with grades and graduation rates at Prince George’s County Public Schools, Debbi Wilgoren of the Post reports. The allegations were levied this month by four members of the Prince George’s County school board, who said they have evidence to prove their claims but have not made that evidence public.

ADMIN LEAVE IN PG SCHOOLS: In other Prince George’s school news, Donna St. George of the Post writes that one county teacher was escorted out of her school this spring after being accused of making an offensive remark in class. Another was sent home for allegedly failing to report a tussle that another staff member had with a student one day. The latest data show they were among 848 employees placed on administrative leave during the 2016-17 school year.

GERRYMANDERING: Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald Mail writes a history of the recent gerrymandering issue in Maryland.

  • Taken together, developments in Georgia (a special election) and Wisconsin (redistricting lawsuit) have been read by some Maryland Republicans as positive indicators that things finally are moving in their direction in a state overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats. But, opines Barry Rascovar for MarylandReporter, while hope springs eternal, a closer look at these two developments paints a far less rosy picture for Maryland’s minority party, outnumbered 2-1 by Free State Democrats.

HISPANIC SERVERS QUIT IN FEAR: Joanna Sullivan of the Baltimore Business Journal reports that a popular restaurant on Baltimore’s Canton waterfront has lost more than 30 Hispanic servers who feared they faced scrutiny and possible deportation by the U.S. Homeland Security. Gene Singleton, a principal with The BoatHouse Canton, wrote a letter to patrons saying that Friday “was the saddest day for the BoatHouse family in its 3-plus years. We had to say goodbye to over 30 of our teammates who operate our kitchen and support our service team.”

MUSE TO RUN FOR PG COUNTY EXEC: Sen. C. Anthony Muse, a longtime Prince George’s County politician and preacher, plans to announce Monday that he will seek the Democratic Party nomination to run for county executive in 2018, Arelis Hernandez of the Post reports. Muse, 59, has spent more than two decades in Annapolis, having been elected a state delegate in 1994 and a state senator in 2006. He lost a race for county executive in 2002.

JEALOUS WANTS SINGLE-PAYER: Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous (D) told a gathering of progressive activists in Western Maryland this week that he plans to push for a state-run, single-payer health-care system if he wins the governorship — assuming the federal government doesn’t already have such a program in place, Josh Hicks of the Post reports.

KHAN RECONSIDERS QUITTING RACE: In the latest development in the jockeying over an open state delegate seat in District 39, Hamza Khan, former president of the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County, indicated Friday that he is reconsidering an earlier decision to drop out of the race, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.

HO CO WEBSITE HACKED: Several Ohio government websites and the Howard County, Md., website were hacked Sunday and defaced with an anti-President Trump, pro-Islamic State message, Devlin Barrett reports in the Post. The regular homepages of the sites were replaced with a black screen that featured brief statements that ended with “I love Islamic State.’’ Officials shut down the sites while they worked to reestablish control.

TUG OF WAR ON TOWING: Debate over who should control the rules governing Anne Arundel County’s police towing program has council members and county administration drawing battle lines. Amanda Yeager of the Annapolis Capital reports that Council Bill 34-17 would shift regulatory power from police to the council when it comes to the towing program, in which the police department licenses companies to tow away cars that have been damaged in accidents or that are being impounded as evidence. Police and County Executive Steve Schuh’s administration have decried the proposal as a politicized move that loosens regulations on a voluntary program.

FLAGS CAUSE CONTROVERSY: After a spike in hate crimes over the winter, Rockville officials came up with what they thought would be the ideal way to affirm the city’s commitment to diversity and inclusion: fly the flags of all 193 member countries of the United Nations from downtown light poles. Within weeks, officials of this diligently progressive Montgomery County seat discovered that celebrating diversity is not a simple business and that good intentions can be derailed by unintended consequences.