State Roundup, July 21, 2017

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STATE PLANS TO SUE EPA: Michael Dresser of the Sun writes about that the Hogan administration notified the federal Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday that it plans to file a lawsuit alleging the agency has failed to act against states whose smokestack emissions pollute Maryland’s air.

MD CATFISH INDUSTRY IMPERILED: In recent years, Chesapeake watermen and seafood processors have begun developing a market for blue catfish, that invasive species that has exploded in regional waters vacuuming up baby blue crabs, shad, striped bass and other economically important fish. But new USDA inspection rules that hold foreign imports to U.S. standards could threaten that growing market, Pamela D’Angelo reports for WYPR. And you can blame it all on Mississippi Congressman Thad Cochran, who was trying to protect local catfish farmers who were feeling the pressure of Asian imports.

PG SCHOOL GRADES PROBE: Prince George’s County public schools chief Kevin Maxwell repeatedly denied that his administration had inflated graduation rates in remarks he made Thursday during a two-hour meeting with the state lawmakers who represent Prince George’s in Annapolis. But the superintendent said he welcomes the review to “put this matter behind us.” The Maryland Department of Education is soliciting bids from auditing firms to investigate allegations of widespread grade manipulation in the system.

VA HOSPITALS PROBLEM: U.S. Army veteran Larry Burker was approved for 30% disability for his diagnosis of diabetes. Burker was also diagnosed with neuropathy, but when he applied for further disability for the condition plus his dependence on insulin, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was not so responsive, according to the Sharpsburg resident. “I just gave up on it,” he said. Burker was among the veterans who showed up at workshop and panel discussion Thursday evening hosted by U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md, reports Dave McMillion for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

CUMMINGS RETURNS TO DC: Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, who has been recovering from a heart procedure for nearly two months, says he plans to return to work during next month’s congressional recess, John Fritze writes in the Sun. The Baltimore Democrat, the ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, underwent what his office described as a “minimally invasive” heart procedure in May. At the time, his office said he expected to be in the hospital for “a few days,” but the congressman has not cast a vote since May 23.

ALLEGANY REGISTER OF WILLS INDICTED: The Cumberland Times-News is reporting that State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said on Thursday that Rebecca D. Drew, register of wills for Allegany County, has been indicted by an Allegany County grand jury with one count of misconduct in office, two counts of felony theft and one count of misappropriation by a fiduciary stemming from alleged misuse of an office credit card and checking account.

MODIFIED $15 WAGE BILL IN MO CO: Months after a failed push to raise Montgomery County’s minimum wage again, County Council member Marc Elrich is gearing up for another attempt, reports Bethany Rodgers for Bethesda Beat. Elrich said he will reintroduce Tuesday a modified version of his earlier proposal to hike the county’s hourly wage to $15.

TRUMP TO TAP MARYLANDER AS HAITI AMBASSADOR: WBAL-AM reports that President Donald Trump plans to nominate a career diplomat from Maryland to be the next ambassador to Haiti, the White House announced Thursday. Michele Jeanne Sison currently serves as deputy permanent representative at the U.S. mission to the United Nations, a role she’s held since 2014.

NO RESPECT: After a couple of humorous paragraphs, the editorial board for the Sun takes a turn to the serious when it opines that the more disturbing takeaway from President Trump’s rant on U.S. Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in which he claimed that he would never have appointed former Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General had he known he would recuse himself from the Russian hacking investigation, is the president’s profound lack of respect for the rule of law. Had he spent just a nanosecond learning about Mr. Rosenstein, for example, he’d have found out that the 52-year-old Philadelphia native (and Bethesda resident) won respect in Maryland for, among other things, prosecuting prominent Democratic officeholders including Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and Sen. Ulysses S. Currie.

LAZARICK SERIES ‘BEST OF BALTIMORE:’ The August issue of Baltimore magazine honors MarylandReporter.com Editor and Publisher Len Lazarick with one of its annual Best of Baltimore awards for his series on “Columbia at 50,” which has now been turned into a book.