State Roundup, September 29, 2017

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HEALTH OFFICIALS HELD IN CONTEMPT: A Baltimore circuit judge is holding Maryland’s acting health secretary and other top Health Department officials in contempt of court and ordering them to open dozens of beds at state psychiatric hospitals by the end of the year. Pamela Wood reports in the Sun that the judge ruled Thursday that acting Health Secretary Dennis Schrader and his top staff had failed to follow court orders to place criminal defendants in state psychiatric hospitals. In some cases, the judge said, mentally ill defendants have languished in jails for weeks waiting for a bed at a state hospital.

LAWS TAKE EFFECT SUNDAY: On Sunday, Oct. 1, dozens of new laws will take effect in Maryland affecting everything from public health and addiction to the environment, ethics and the handling of sex abuse and animal cruelty cases. Capital News Service and MarylandReporter pull it together.

STOP STUDYING, JUST HELP: In an op-ed for the Sun, state Sen. Mac Middleton writes that “when Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the General Assembly’s paid sick leave bill last May, he announced the creation of a task force to “better understand access to paid leave policies. Here’s the issue: what the governor is suggesting has already been done. … For two years, I personally reached out to Governor Hogan to join these conversations – and the governor and members of his administration never accepted the offer to meet with us. Since then, Governor Hogan’s so-called task force has gone nowhere fast.”

HOWARD TO SEEK AMAZON HQ2: Howard County becomes the third Maryland municipality making a bid for Amazon’s coveted second headquarters, joining a crowded national competition for a $5 billion investment and its promise of 50,000 jobs. At the same time, Howard Hughes Corp., the Dallas-based developer that is leading a redevelopment of downtown Columbia, plans to submit its own proposal. Howard Hughes said it would also participate in Howard County’s bid, Sarah Gantz of the Sun reports.

MO CO PLANS FOR AMAZON HQ2: The White Flint Mall site could emerge as one of several Montgomery County locations suggested for an Amazon headquarters, County Executive Ike Leggett told real estate agents on Thursday. The county is putting the finishing touches on its pitch to Amazon and will submit the proposal by mid-October, vying with jurisdictions around the U.S. to lure an estimated 50,000 new jobs to the area, Bethany Rodgers of Bethesda Beat reports.

RUSSIANS TARGETED BALTIMORE: A social media advertisement that targeted Baltimore users in the months following the 2015 riots and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement was likely part of a broader effort by Russia to sow discontent and deepen racial tension, cyber security analysts said Thursday. John Fritze and Jean Marbella of the Sun report that members of the state’s congressional delegation say they are troubled by the revelation.

HO HUM REACTION TO DELANEY: When Rep. John Delaney announced his unexpected presidential campaign in July, a conservative research group blasted out a records request to Maryland institutions seeking email chatter about the news. What they got back suggests the state’s political class took notice, and was then ready to move on. The emails provide a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes reactions that take place following major political news in the state, John Fritze reports for the Sun.

ECONOMICS & THE ENVIRONMENT: Environmental reporter Tom Horton of the Bay Journal writes that. “People are surprised when I say that for my profession of environmental writing, I read as much as I can absorb about economics and business. Put articles from the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation next to those of the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times, and my eyes go first to the latter two. The reason is that the big economies, especially ours in the United States, have come to pursue a hyper-capitalism that drives everything, including the environment.

MUSLIM COUNCIL HOLDS 6th DISTRICT FORUM: The Montgomery County Muslim Council kicked off the 2018 election season on Septl. 23 by hosting a forum that included candidates from all political parties running in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District race. Glynis Kazanjian of the Sentinel writes that the Muslim Council designed the event with goals to get more members of the Muslim community involved in the political process and learn how candidates plan to combat what MCMC calls growing anti-Muslim sentiment and bigotry.

FIXING WHAT AILS US: Comptroller candidate Anjali Reed Phukan writes in Maryland Matters that, “With all the news on violence and vandalism from hate and racist groups recently related to statues of slave owners, the state and American flags, and our national anthem, I feel compelled to give a historical yet novel solution, from a ‘mixed, perspective. My hope is people will become more aware of sources of negativity, mitigate and correct its spread, and increase peace and prosperity for all in our great state.”

RASKIN TUMBLES OVER WORDS: A few Montgomery County Republicans targeted Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) over a typo found written in a letter in response to one of Raskin’s congressional constituents, blogs Ryan Miner of a Miner Detail blog. The letter said, “I have the deepest sympathies for the Force family after the senseless loss of their son, former Army office Taylor force, and I wholeheartedly and unconditionally condone terrorism in every form.” He later corrected that to say “condemn.”

  • Danielle Gaines, in her Political Notes column for the Frederick News Post, writes that Raskin elicited laughter and (playful) scorn with his performance at the National Press Club’s Press vs. Politicians Spelling Bee on Tuesday night, Raskin got four of the six words he fielded in the double-elimination showdown: concentrate, ascendancy, melancholy, and, without a beat of hesitation or request for the word’s origin, “picayune.” Fruits were his downfall. Gaines also writes about Del. Kathy Afzali’s “fair deal.”

FEDS GIVE BALTO. POLICE $750,000 GRANT: The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the Baltimore Police Department a $750,000 grant to “improve supervision strategies that will reduce recidivism rates,” it announced Thursday. The grant will go to the police department’s Community Collaboration Division, which has an existing Reentry Program, Kevin Rector reports in the Sun.