State Roundup, July 24, 2017

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TURBULENCE FOR OFF-SHORE TURBINES: Ocean City officials are resisting a plan to build a wind farm off Maryland’s coast — among the first of its kind in the nation — and they are taking their fight to Congress, reports John Fritze for the Sun. The $1.4 billion project, in the works for seven years, would put as many as 187 wind turbines off the coast of the state’s best-known beach destination.

OPPOSITION TO POT DISPENSARIES: John Seifert was having trouble renting out his shuttered flower shop in Baltimore County. Finally, a real estate agent found a potential tenant: a medical marijuana dispensary. Neighbors are not happy. In Baltimore, residents are asking questions about a dispensary planned for Wyman Park; City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke has requested a public hearing. Officials in Queen Anne’s County set new restrictions on where facilities may be located; a dispensary company sued. Residents of Anne Arundel County have spoken out against planned dispensaries there, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports.

CORRECTIONS WORKERS SEEK WAGE HIKE: With their union contract set to expire later this year, Maryland state correctional officers are making a case for higher pay, saying an increase in salaries would help retain stressed employees, attract new recruits and improve safety amid a major staffing shortage, writes Josh Hicks for the Post.

GUN LAW CHALLENGED: Gun-rights advocates on Friday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to review and strike down as unconstitutional Maryland’s ban on military assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines, those carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition, reports Steve Lash for the Daily Record. In papers filed with the high court, the advocates’ attorneys argued that the ban violates the Constitution’s Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms.”

FLU SHOTS: The push to get children vaccinated against the flu will soon begin in earnest, but for the second year in a row the kids will have to endure a shot instead of the painless nasal spray most prefer. The spray, FluMist, was deemed so ineffective by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that authorities recommended against using it last year. That prompted some school systems, including those in Harford and Anne Arundel counties, to cancel or scale back vaccination clinics rather than subject students to arm pricks out of sight of their parents, Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes.

SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: In addressing the 21st Century School Facilities Commission in Annapolis at its first meeting since January, Bob Gorrell, the state’s new school construction head emphasized how Maryland could work toward greater equity and quality of school facilities statewide through adopting some of the methods used in New Mexico, where he served previously as executive director of the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority. Robin Clark Eilenberg writes the article for Conduit Street.

CONSERVING BAY, JOBS: Writing in an op-ed for the Sun, conservationist Keith Campbell states that healthy coastal regions are not just pretty pictures; they are critical to sustaining a strong economy. Exposing sensitive marine areas to oil and gas exploration and drilling would jeopardize thousands of jobs in fishing, recreation and tourism, not to mention the irreparable harm it would cause to priceless national treasures like the Chesapeake Bay.

BALTO. LIQUOR BOARD: A challenge to a 2016 law that stripped the governor of his power to appoint commissioners to the Baltimore City Liquor License Board has been rejected by the state’s second highest court, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

HBCUs ON NAACP AGENDA: A lawsuit that proponents say would have ramifications for historically black colleges around the country has been snaking through Maryland’s judicial system for more than a decade. One of the plaintiffs behind the case discussed the importance of maintaining support for these institutions at a panel discussion Sunday during the NAACP’s national convention in Baltimore, Talia Richman of the Sun reports.

HOGAN TACKS RIGHT: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will be the headliner Tuesday night at a fundraiser in York, Pa., for Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner (R) – a wealthy businessman who is running for governor in 2018. But, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters, does a Republican like Hogan, who is assiduously trying to portray himself as a centrist able to appeal to Democrats and independents in a blue state like Maryland, want to be associated with Wagner’s right-wing record and rhetoric?

GRANDPA FOR PRESIDENT: Was there some subtle message in Larry Hogan’s new profile picture on his Facebook page? He’s holding his grandson Cam “and Chief Political Strategist” says the gov. The boy is wearing a Grandpa for President T-shirt.   

CROWDED FIELD: Political columnist Barry Rascovar writes about the crowded – and growing ever so crowded – field of people who are or may be running for the democratic nomination for governor, writing, “It is, indeed, an odd  bunch of gubernatorial wannabes, some with zero elective experience, others with a wealth of government expertise, a millennial contender, three African Americans (one a woman), a gay candidate, and an establishment, big-city lawyer.”

2nd WOMAN MULLS RUN FOR GOV: On Saturday, 37-year-old Krishanti Vignarajah, the former policy director to first lady Michelle Obama, stood before a gathering of women (and a few men) while attending the United Democratic Women of Maryland’s quarterly luncheon in Hagerstown, to announce she is mulling a Democratic bid for governor of Maryland and will make her political intentions known in September, writes Ryan Miner in his Miner Detail blog.

GRASSO IS RUNNING, FOR SOMETHING: Last week, a curious posting appeared on John Grasso’s Facebook page. The post hinted that Grasso wouldn’t actually run for state Senate necessarily, but that he would potentially launch a primary challenge to Gov. Larry Hogan or to Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, writes Brian Griffiths in Red Maryland.

KIPKE INJURED IN DOG ATTACK: House Minority Leader Nic Kipke is at home recovering after a dog attack that sent him to the hospital for stitches. In a Facebook post Saturday, Kipke, R-Pasadena, said he was attacked by an unleashed pit bull Friday night while out on a walk with his wife, Susannah Warner Kipke, 2-year-old James and the family’s miniature poodle, Tucker. Tucker also was treated with external and internal stitches, writes Amanda Yeager for the Annapolis Capital.

DEL. McKAY RUNS FOR REGISTER OF WILLS: Del. Mike McKay says he will not run for a second term, choosing  instead to seek election as Allegany County Register of Wills, Greg Larry reports for the Cumberland Times News. McKay represents portions of Allegany and Washington counties. Last Thursday, Register of Wills Rebecca Drew was indicted on charges that she fraudulently used an office credit card and checking account for personal expenses. In addition, Cumberland City Councilman Dave Caporale has disclosed his intention to seek a seat on the Allegany County Board of Commissioners.

OPIOID DEATHS IN ARUNDEL: With 2017 now at a record-setting pace for opioid overdose deaths in Anne Arundel County, police say a string of fatalities are due to medical emergencies now understood to be caused by prescription painkillers, Phil Davis reports in the Annapolis Capital. The county has now seen 85 deaths due to opioid overdoses as of Wednesday, 10 more than during the same period last year.

JONATHAN SHURBERG DIES: Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports that Jonathan Shurberg—whose involvement in Montgomery County politics included roles ranging from election law attorney to candidate to political activist and blogger—died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after a series of illnesses. He was 54.