State Roundup, Aug. 8, 2017

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MGM’s REVENUE BOOM: MGM National Harbor generated more than $50 million in revenue for the fourth straight month in July, leading the state’s casinos while decreases continued at Maryland Live Casino and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Lorraine Mirabella reports in the Sun.

EXPEDITED BRIEFING SKED FOR PURPLE LINE SUIT: Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., on Friday granted Maryland’s request for an expedited briefing schedule for the Purple Line lawsuit, bringing the case closer to a possible conclusion. The court already granted Maryland and the Federal Transit Administration—the defendants in the case—a reprieve in July by restoring the proposed light-rail project’s federal approval, which had been revoked last August by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon.

MO CO SEES SURGE N FENTANYL DEATHS: The latest figures on drug and alcohol intoxication deaths show a surge in Montgomery County fatalities related to fentanyl, a strong opiate pain medication, Andrew Schotz reports for Bethesda Beat. The number of fentanyl intoxication deaths has increased sharply since 2013, when there were none. There were 8 in 2014, 17 in 2015, and 43 in 2016. There were 15 in the county in the first quarter of this year. Overall opioid intoxication deaths in the county have increased from 53 in 2014 to 84 last year.

HELP LOW-INCOME LGBTQ KIDS: Mark Procopio, who advocates on behalf of LGBTQ individuals of low income, writes in an op-ed for the Sun that perhaps Maryland is not yet as progressive a state as we think. LGBTQ children and teens are particularly at risk here; just over 40% of kids experiencing homelessness in our state identify as LGBTQ. Our children also continue to lack specific protections at the state level in our public schools. And the state does not ban conversion therapy for children, the harmful and scientifically discredited practice of attempting to alter a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

MO CO WAGE SURVEY CRITICIZED: Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter writes that taxpayers are paying for a lengthy study that concluded a proposed $15 minimum wage in Montgomery County would lead to fewer jobs, but which businesses participated in the study isn’t being made public. County Executive spokesman Patrick Lacefield said, “The businesses were assured anonymity in order to ensure we got accurate and honest information from them.”

WATCHDOG GROUP OPPOSES SINCLAIR PURCHASE: Consumer watchdog group Allied Progress, which is opposing Sinclair Broadcast Group’s planned $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media Co., asked the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to deny the deal. The group questions whether a deal that would create the single largest operator of local broadcast stations in the country serves the public interest. Hunt Valley-based Sinclair announced plans in May to acquire Tribune’s 42 local news stations, bringing its ownership count to 233 stations that could reach 72% of American households, Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports.

TRONE TO FUND-RAISE THIS TIME AROUND: David Trone, the Democratic businessman running in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, has learned at least one thing from his unsuccessful congressional bid last year: Self-funding a political campaign is a turnoff for some voters, writes John Fritze in the Sun. “I self-funded to demonstrate my independence,” he said. “But it turns out one way to get people involved is to [ask them to] make a contribution.” This time, Trone said he will accept money from individuals but not political action committees or lobbyists.

DIVERSITY NEEDED ON COURT: In urging Gov. Larry Hogan to bring diversity to the Anne Arundel Circuit Court, Carl Snowden, in an op-ed for the Annapolis Capital, writes that in its over 366-years of existence, no Latino, Asian or African-American woman has ever served on the court. Yet, regardless of his party, no governor have ever appointed a black woman, Latino or Asian to serve. It did not make a difference, if the governor was a conservative or a liberal.