State Roundup, July 25, 2017

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NO PLAN TO FIX DEFICIT: Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration is refusing to provide Maryland lawmakers with a plan for how he will resolve the state’s structural deficit next year, reports Holden Wilen for the Baltimore Business Journal. Maryland faces a $700 million shortfall in fiscal 2019, and the General Assembly’s budget committees had given the Hogan administration a July 1 deadline for submitting a report on how it will fix the gap. In a letter responding to the request, Secretary of Budget and Management David R. Brinkley declined to provide a plan and said the legislature’s request skirts the state’s budgeting procedures.

GREEN LIGHT ON VOTING DATA: A federal judge on Monday allowed President Trump’s voting commission to go forward with seeking voter data from 50 states and the District, ruling that the White House advisory panel is exempt from federal privacy review requirements, whatever additional risk it might pose to Americans’ information, Spencer Hsu of the Post is reporting.

ASSAULT GUN ADVOCATES AT SUPREME COURT: Gun rights advocates took their case against Maryland’s strict Firearm Safety Act to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, asking the justices to strike down a lower court ruling upholding the law. Lawyers for the advocates argued that the 2013 law’s ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines violates the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

CASH BAIL REFORM: Congressional civil rights leaders, including rising Democratic star Sen. Kamala Harris of California, called for national reform of cash bail and other criminal justice issues on Monday at the NAACP convention in Baltimore. Harris, who was greeted with cheers of “Harris for President,” urged reform of the cash bail system that she said preys on minorities and the poor, Tim Prudente of the Sun reports.

GAITHERSBURG RX POT SHOP: A longtime Gaithersburg dry cleaning business closed its doors in recent weeks, and a city official said a medical marijuana dispensary is moving in to fill the space, Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat reports.

GETTING MORE GOATS: Frederick Kunkle of the Post writes that Maryland transportation officials may be expanding the use of goats to keep highway brush trimmed back. Maryland has been using goats and sheep since 2009 on a patch of highway in Carroll County.

REFORM THE PROCESS: In urging reform in the process of replacing legislators mid-term, Senate hopeful Jay Steinmetz writes in an op-ed for the Sun that Nathaniel Oaks, who is facing federal fraud charges and refuses to resign, told the Sun last month, “I’m a senator. I have obligations to the constituency that elected me.” Indeed, Oaks is a senator, but he was not elected by voters in his west Baltimore district, Steinmetz says. Instead, he was appointed to the position by the city’s powerful Democratic Central Committee in a process rigged for political insiders and one that has now burdened us with a distracted politician who must lawyer up to avoid prison.

HOGAN HEADLINES: Gov. Larry Hogan is scheduled to be the headline speaker at a fundraiser Thursday for a conservative candidate for Pennsylvania governor whose populist style has been compared to that of President Donald J. Trump. Michael Dresser of the Sun reports that Hogan’s appearance could play into one of Maryland Democrats’ attack lines against him — that the real Larry Hogan is far to the right of the moderate positions he’s adopted as governor.

HOGAN VS MILLER: The editorial board for the Sun opines that when the most powerful political figure in the state right now – Gov. Larry Hogan – goes after the Maryland politician who has arguably wielded the most power over the last 30 years – Senate President Mike Miller — it means war. Now that Mr. Hogan started it by repeated claiming that Miller acted unethically, he better be prepared to follow through.

RUN FOR GOVERNOR: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post follows up on a piece in Ryan Miner’s Miner Detail blog, writing that Krishanti Vignarajah, a onetime policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama, said Monday that she is “seriously considering” joining a crowded field of Democratic candidates running for Maryland governor.

REDISTRICTING REFORM: Maryland Democrats in Washington are proposing competing bills with the same purpose; overhauling how the nation’s congressional districts are drawn. Freshman Congressman Jamie Raskin has introduced a bill that would set up independent commissions to draw congressional districts. Meanwhile, Rep. John Delaney, who won his seat representing Western Maryland and parts of Montgomery County because of Democratic gerrymandering after the last census, is sponsoring the Open Our Democracy Act. That also creates independent commissions to draw congressional district lines, Matt Laslo of WYPR-FM reports.

MANDATORY GUN SENTENCING: Nate Loewentheil writes in MarylandReporter that to try to control the rapid growth in gun violence and get guns of the street, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis are pushing a new city ordinance that would impose a one-year minimum sentence for carrying an illegal firearm in Baltimore. While he applauds the effort, it has been met with fierce resistance from community members, activists and leaders who are wary of mandatory minimums. A sunset provision could make it more palatable.

FREDERICK SEEKS STANDING: Attorneys for Frederick County want utility regulators to consider a new solar energy ordinance before granting approval to a 20-megawatt solar array near New Midway, Danielle Gaines reports for the Frederick News-Post. County attorneys petitioned the Maryland Public Service Commission to reopen its consideration of the proposed LeGore Bridge Solar Center on Clyde Young Road to accept testimony relating to the ordinance passed by the County Council in May.

LEVENTHAL’s PUBLIC FUNDS: Montgomery County executive candidate George Leventhal said Friday he has received $196,652 to match the campaign contributions he has raised. The money comes from the county’s $11 million public election fund, which disburses funds based on contributions raised by candidates, Doug Tallman reports for MyMcMedia.

Confederate statue next to old brick courthouse in Rockville.

CONFEDERATE STATUE MOVED: The Confederate statue that had stood for decades next to Rockville’s Red Brick Courthouse has been relocated to its new home: near a privately run Potomac River ferry named for a Confederate general, Bill Turque of the Post reports. Montgomery County officials struck a deal in February with White’s Ferry, which operates a car ferry linking Dickerson, Md., and Leesburg, Va., to take the 13-ton bronze soldier.