State Roundup, August 28, 2017

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MD AMONG TOP 10 FOR INTERNET BIZ: Maryland is one of the top states in the country for internet and technology companies, according to a recent report by a trade association of tech businesses, writes Ryan Marshall for the Frederick News-Post. The report by the Internet Association ranks Maryland fourth nationally in its “Ease of Doing Internet Business” report, which looks at how states and municipalities can make themselves more welcoming to internet and technology firms.

EASTERN SHORE LOVES TRUMP, OBAMACARE: The Eastern Shore is a part of Maryland that benefits more from Obamacare than any other. Yet the mostly rural and sporadically impoverished region of Maryland also has been a stronghold of support for Republicans deeply opposed to the law, including President Donald Trump. Census data show the number of uninsured residents in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District — which includes the Eastern Shore as well as portions of Baltimore and Harford counties — fell from 63,252 in 2013 to 29,193 two years later, a 54% decline, John Fritze and Meredith Cohn of the Sun reports.

11 RX POT DISPENSARIES TO OPEN IN CITY: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that as Baltimore prepares for the opening of 11 medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, some residents say it’s been difficult to get information about where they’re opening or how the sites were selected.

PURPLE LINE OPPONENTS PERSIST: As a Monday groundbreaking looms for the light-rail Purple Line project, the trail advocacy group that has fought the project in court since 2014 is not giving up. It is urging the state to not move forward with construction activities until an ongoing lawsuit is settled, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.

REDISTRICTING REFORM STILL POSSIBLE: The editorial board of the Sun opines that Maryland Democrats shouldn’t get too excited about last week’s decision by a federal district court preserving, at least for the 2018 election, the boundaries of Western Maryland’s 6th Congressional district. By a 2-to-1 margin, the court found that the lawsuit brought by seven Republican plaintiffs had failed to meet the standard to justify tossing out the district’s current boundaries, but it put no stamp of approval on the kind of partisan gerrymandering behind how those lines were drawn.

FROSH ON OPIOID CRISIS: Despite changes Maryland has made in its justice system to deal with the opioid epidemic, more is needed to combat the problem, Attorney General Brian Frosh said Thursday.Tamela Baker of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that Frosh said in a wide-ranging interview that in the past year, Maryland has “probably lost ground, as have other states.”

YUMI HOGAN TO GO ON TRADE MISSION: A delegation of Maryland officials, including First Lady Yumi Hogan, will travel to South Korea in September for a week-long trade mission aimed at attracting more Korean companies and tourists, Holden Wilen reports for the Baltimore Business Journal. Gov. Larry Hogan and Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill will not be among those making the trip. The nine-person delegation also will include Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ben Wu, Secretary of State John Wobensmith and six staff members.

HOGAN CRITICIZED OVER TANEY: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) won office in heavily Democratic Maryland three years ago by avoiding social issues and campaigning on a platform of cutting taxes and regulations and increasing jobs, writes Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. So when he waded into the nation’s culture wars this month, the blowback was fierce. Members of his conservative base immediately lashed out at him, denouncing his decision to support the removal of the statue of former Supreme Court chief justice Roger B. Taney from the State House grounds in Annapolis.

LESS TIME IN CLASS MEANS WORSE OUTCOMES: In advocating to return the school start date back before Labor Day, Del. Brooke Lierman writes in an op-ed for the Sun that although at first we might not see the real and measurable harm to Maryland students starting school after Labor Day, by almost every measure the data demonstrate that mandating less time in the classroom during the summer months leads to negative short-term and long-term consequences for Baltimore and Maryland.

JUDGES SHOULD ATTEND HOGAN VIOLENCE MEETING: The editorial board of the Sun writes that Gov. Larry Hogan has rightly called for a “frank and honest” meeting to be held Tuesday among city criminal justice officials to addresst violence in Baltimore City. But now judges have begged off, claiming they don’t have to answer questions about their work because they’re above being “swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.” While the board says it respects the independent nature of the judiciary, but we not only believe that judges should participate in the meeting, Hogan should open it to the public.

PRIDE IN MARYLAND’s FLAG: In light of the kerfuffle that Red Maryland stirred up over “radicals … trying to force Maryland to change our flag,” the editorial board of the Carroll County Times offers some more history of the flag, recounts the fact that there is no movement to change the flag and concludes “Our state flag, fortunately, has never been used for … racial intimidation and, God willing, never will. Marylanders should take great pride in their flag for many reasons, not the least of which is its underlying symbolism of unity” after the Civil War.

SEN. DeGRANGE TO RETIRE: State Sen. Ed DeGrange, who has represented portions of Anne Arundel County in state and local government for more than 20 years, will retire at the end of his term in 2018, writes Amanda Yeager for the Annapolis Capital. The Millersville Democrat announced Friday that he’s decided to step down to spend more time with family. DeGrange, 67, served on the Anne Arundel County Council from 1994 to 1998 before being elected to the state Senate in District 32, where he has chaired the influential capital budget subcommittee for the past decade.

SIX DEM GOVERNOR HOPEFULS: Ryan Miner of A Miner Detail blog runs videos of six Democratic gubernatorial candidates – or expected gubernatorial candidates – speaking at the Democratic Picnic in Washington County. Krishanti Vignarajah speaks for just over 4 minutes while Alec Ross, Ben Jealous and Jim Shea speak north of 7 minutes each and Kevin Kamenetz and Richard Madelano come in at just under 6 minutes.

2 AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN RUNNINGFOR PG COUNTY EXEC? The evolving race for Prince George’s County executive may produce a rarity in American politics – and in Maryland: two strong women running against each other. And it may produce an even rarer occurrence: two strong African-American women running against each other, Ana Faguy of Maryland Matters writes..

CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE UNDER FIRE: Enrollment has plunged at the Baltimore City Community College over the past several years. The school’s graduation rate is the lowest of any community college in Maryland. Thousands of city residents are paying more money to attend Baltimore County’s community college instead. Del. Maggie McIntosh helped push legislation through the General Assembly this year directing BCCC to address its longstanding problems or face loss of funding.

JUDGES APPOINTED: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday appointed Dana M. Middleton and Harris P. Murphy to fill vacancies on the circuit courts in Baltimore city and Kent County, respectively, the Daily Record is reporting.

SAFE STATIONS DEMAND GROWS: Anne Arundel’s “Safe Stations” initiative has taken off over the past month, offering opioid addiction help to 45 people over the last three weeks. At 15 people a week, according to Anne Arundel police, its popularity is well beyond what county officials expected. The increase has led to an influx of people in need of detoxification and caused those in charge of the program to make some changes to fit the growing demand, Phil David of the Annapolis Capital reports.

CITY STATE’s ATTORNEY RACE: The contest to become Baltimore’s top prosecutor kicked off in earnest Saturday, as defense attorney Ivan J. Bates launched his campaign at a Park Heights home where a young father was fatally shot in 2015, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun. Bates, a Democrat, is the first candidate to publicly launch a campaign to challenge incumbent State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, in what could become a crowded race.

PANTELIDES, ASTLE RAISE MOST: Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that the two men with the most political experience have raised the most money in the Annapolis mayoral race. Mayor Mike Pantelides raised the most at $141,697.32. Democratic candidate and state Sen. John Astle raised $119,209.09. In third place was Democratic candidate Gavin Buckley with $72,736.54 raised. Republican candidate Nevin Young was in a distant last place with $2,692.17 raised.

CHANGE BALTIMORE: In a long guest commentary for Maryland Matters, Dan Sparco writes about the history of Baltimore City, how it took so long for African-Americans to gain power and how and when change will come.

GOP CANDIDATE VAUGHN DIES: Corrogan R. Vaughn, a frequent Republican candidate who challenged Rep. Elijah E. Cummings in two campaigns, died Aug. 17 of a heart attack at his Pikesville home. He was 51, writes Fred Rasmussen in the Sun. “I was deeply saddened to learn of Corrogan Vaughn’s passing from this life,” Mr. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said in a statement. Several other politicians offer their tributes including former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.