State Roundup, August 25, 2017

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FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS 2011 DISTRICTING: A federal district court rejected a claim Thursday by seven Maryland Republicans that the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights, setting up another Supreme Court fight over the heavily litigated maps, reports John Fritze for the Sun.

METRO COST-SHARING KERFUFFLE: Robert McCartney of the Post reports that a disagreement between the District of Columbia and its neighbors over how to split the cost of fixing Metro is blocking the region’s effort to agree on a plan for the transit system, raising doubts about whether a long-term solution can be found this year, officials said. The argument roiled a meeting of top local officials Wednesday at which D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson argued forcefully against using an existing Metro funding formula to decide what D.C., Maryland and Virginia each would pay.

PURPLE LINE CONSTRUCTION TO START: Dirt will soon begin to fly on the Purple Line construction project, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. Gov. Larry Hogan’s office notified Montgomery County late Wednesday night that it has scheduled a groundbreaking at 10 a.m. Monday in the Hyattsville area in Prince George’s County.

100% RENEWABLES BY 2035? State lawmakers plan to introduce legislation requiring the state to get all of its electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by the year 2035. The bill is expected to be introduced when the General Assembly returns to Annapolis in January, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.

JUDGES SNUB HOGAN: Judges who preside over criminal cases in Baltimore say they won’t attend a meeting that Gov. Larry Hogan has called about the city’s record violence — a refusal the governor promptly criticized as “unacceptable.” Earlier this month, Hogan called for a meeting with city officials who work in criminal justice — including judges, prosecutors and politicians — to have a “frank and honest discussion” about what can be done to address the “tragic and disturbing violence being experienced in Baltimore City,” Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

FREDERICK PARCC SCORES: Frederick County performed better than the state average and made meaningful progress in closing racial and ethnic gaps, according to test results measuring college and career readines, Allen Etzler of the Frederick News-Post reports. Frederick County students performed nearly 16 percentage points better than the state average in algebra on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test this past spring. The county outperformed the state average in nine of 14 tests.

NAVAL ACADEMY ‘REBEL’ BUILDINGS: At the U.S. Naval Academy, where the names of the nation’s military heroes adorn many buildings, two structures honor the memory of American naval officers who fought against the United States of America, reports Brian Witte for the Associated Press. The Naval Academy superintendent’s stately home, which hosts thousands of visitors every year, and a building that houses the academy’s division of Weapons and Systems Engineering are both named for Confederates who took up arms against the U.S. in the Civil War.

RED MARYLAND STIRS UP FLAG CONTROVERSY: Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he has no interest in changing Maryland’s state flag — a statement made in apparent reaction to an online petition launched from the conservative media outlet Red Maryland claiming that “Maryland’s flag is under attack.” Brian Griffiths, editor of Red Maryland, said the petition was intended as a pre-emptive strike to dissuade lawmakers from considering changes to the state flag. No state lawmakers have announced plans to change or eliminate the flag. The Sun’s Pamela Wood attempts to bring some balance to the controversy.

DELANEY, TRUMP POLL: A new poll finds Rep. John Delaney tied with President Donald Trump in support for the 2020 election, writes Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. The poll, done by a left-leaning polling firm, found that in a head-to-head matchup between Delaney and Trump, 38% of voters would support the president while 38% would support Delaney.

DEMS FLOCK TO WA CO PICNIC: It doesn’t get the attention or the hype – or the crippling heat – of the Crisfield crab feast, but the annual Washington County Democratic picnic is a must-stop for candidates, and just about all of them were there.“This is like an unofficial kickoff” of the 2018 campaign, observed former Maryland Secretary of State John Willis, who has been going to the Washington County picnic for 40 years. Unlike the Crisfield crab feast, which is now dominated by Annapolis lobbyist Bruce Bereano and his enormous tent, the Washington County picnic is an informal affair. Josh Kurtz writes about it for Maryland Matters.

BLACKWATER REFUGE IMPERILED: In a Bay Journal commentary published in MarylandReporter, Danielle Prieur writes that even a rudimentary search on Twitter for trending stories about Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County conveys the striking duality of the place. On one hand, there are majestic pictures of bright white migratory snow geese taking flight over the wetland, congratulatory Tweets on Blackwater being named one of the country’s “Top Conservation Areas Worth Traveling For.” On the other hand, there is the chesapeakebay.net photo of the week that shows dark blue patches. These are the 8,000 acres of marsh that have been lost to the ocean, the very thing threatening Blackwater’s existence, slowly erasing it from the map.

The District 5 ticket at the board of elections. From left, Del. April Rose, Sen. Justin Ready, Dels. Haven Shoemaker and Susan Krebs. From Ready’s Facebook page.

DISTRICT 5 DELEGATION FILES FOR RE-ELECTION: On Thursday, the District 5 Delegation to Annapolis filed for reelection in 2018. The four representatives from District 5 — Sen. Justin Ready, Del. Susan Krebs, Del. April Rose and Del. Haven Shoemaker — filed together, according to a news release from Ready. David Ellin, of Finksburg, is the only other candidate to have filed so far in District 5, seeking a spot in the House of Delegates, Emily Chappell reports for the Carroll County Times.

PROSECUTOR TAPPED FOR JUDGESHIP: Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed a former city prosecutor to serve as a Baltimore Circuit Court judge. Dana M. Middleton’s appointment was announced Thursday. She currently serves in the Attorney General’s Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Before working in the Attorney General’s Office, Middleton was as prosecutor in the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, Jessica Anderson reports for the Sun.

STATE PROPOSES MEDICARE SAVINGS: Maryland is seeking federal approval to expand a hospital cost-savings program to include doctors, rehabilitation facilities, skilled-nursing centers and others who treat patients insured by Medicare, Sarah Gantz reports in the Sun. The 10-year program, which would take effect in January 2019, aims to provide an incentive for health care providers to work more closely with hospitals to improve quality and reduce Medicare costs. The plan calls for Maryland to save $300 million in annual Medicare costs by the end of 2023.