State Roundup, October 30, 2017

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RAPISTS’ PARENTAL RIGHTS: The two most powerful men in the General Assembly have now promised to pass a bill stripping parental rights from rapists next year, adding strong allies to legislation that has died nine times before, Erin Cox of the Sun is reporting. Senate President Mike Miller announced on Facebook last week that he would join as a co-sponsor and introduce the legislation as Senate Bill 2 when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.

RISING SEAS, SINKING HOMES: Rising sea levels this century threaten to sink 61,548 homes across Maryland — valued at $19 billion — by the year 2100, according to the real estate data firm Zillow. In light of the property damage caused by recent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean U.S. territories, Zillow looked at threats posed by the slower moving but potentially more destructive phenomenon of climate change, Catherine Rentz Sun reports.

REJECTED UBER, LYFT DRIVERS: Nearly 15% of new ride-hail drivers in Maryland have been booted from the apps over the past six months for failing state screening, despite having passed Uber and Lyft’s background checks, according to the state Public Service Commission, writes Faiz Siddiqui in the Post. The rejections included 460 applicants with disqualifying criminal histories and 900 who were flagged because of issues with their driving records.

CAR RECALL NOTICE: Maryland drivers will soon receive notice of open recalls on their vehicles when it is time to renew their registrations under a program announced Friday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. John Fritze of the Sun writes that state and federal transportation officials described the two-year pilot program as a first-in-the-nation effort to ensure that owners are aware of problems such as the Takata airbag recall, which has affected tens of millions of vehicles nationwide.

SICK LEAVE VETO OVERRIDE: A battle to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of paid sick leave legislation appears to be on track despite overtures from the governor to negotiate a settlement. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that a spokesman for the first-term Republican said Hogan is interested in a compromise bill that could be introduced when the legislature returns in January. Supporters and sponsors of the legislation that was passed and then vetoed last year, however, are rejecting his appeal. Instead, they are focused on a looming election year veto override attempt.

DETOX CENTER IN HOWARD: Howard County began the process of finding a location for its first residential detox center in July, and has now focused its search on specific short- and long-term options, Kate Magill of the Columbia Flier reports. County and state officials plan to meet in late November to discuss whether the state will pay for renovations to a floor of Springfield Hospital Center.

SECTY CARSON AT B’MORE RECOVERY CENTER: Retired neurosurgeon and Trump administration housing chief Ben Carson toured Baltimore’s Helping Up Mission last week and had glowing praise for the Christian-oriented shelter and addiction recovery center, reports Fern Shen for Baltimore Brew. “It’s so wonderful that this is a faith-based organization because they understand that, but for the grace of God, we all could be here,” said Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

NO. 2 for AMAZON HQ2? BALTIMORE? James Stewart of the New York Times throws in a bunch of factors and ranks Baltimore as the No. 2 likely city to become the home of the new No. 2 Amazon Headquarters. That short list is at the bottom of the very long article.

BROCHIN SEEKS SESSION: State Sen. Jim Brochin is calling for a special session of the Maryland General Assembly to deal with President Donald Trump’s decision not to fund subsidies for individual health insurance plans sold under the Affordable Care Act, writes Pam Wood in the Sun. The Baltimore County Democrat says the state should pass a law agreeing to pay for the subsidies, and that he sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan requesting a one-day special session to consider such a bill.

CHILD MARRIAGE IN MARYLAND: The Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit devoted to helping women and girls flee gender-based violence and forced marriages, found that between 2000 and 2015, more than 3,200 minors were wed in Maryland, 85% were married to an adult spouse. In one particularly appalling instance, a 16-year-old was married to a man over 55 writes Michelle Yu in a Laurel Leader commentary on tightening the law on underage marriage.

EDUCATION FUNDING: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter writes that his prediction of a broad and contentious debate about how to dole out state aid for education this coming session was off by at least a year. The debate will still likely occur, but with a new batch of legislators in 2019 — maybe even a new governor, if Democrats defeat Republican Larry Hogan. Without a Democratic governor, advocates for more education funding fear several years of stalemate.

BENEFITS OF PRE-K: John Olszewski Jr. writes in a column for Maryland Matters that education should be the great equalizer. Yet, as a public school teacher in Baltimore County, I saw incredible inequities in our schools. As a new parent, I see the benefits that a quality early childhood education provides my toddler daughter. It’s an advantage I believe every child deserves. Disparities in education lead to disparities in economic opportunity. Improving access to education empowers residents to build a better future. We need to provide every child the tools they need to succeed.

RUSSIA’s SHORE DACHA: The soccer field is still trimmed to perfection, but no Russians will be gracing the pitch anytime soon. Nor will they be staying in either of the two Georgian-style mansions or in any of the 10 bungalows clustered on the 45-acre waterfront property, writes J.F. Meils of the Capital News Service. Russia’s luxurious “dacha” on Maryland’s Eastern Shore sits eerily empty and waiting, a casualty of the diplomatic row with the United States that flared after it became clear the Russians meddled with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

EMILY’s LIST BACKS ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: Emily’s List, the nation’s most prominent political action committee financing women in politics, has endorsed Maya Rockeymoore Cummings in the race for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports. Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily’s List, praised Rockeymoore Cummings as “a progressive trailblazer with the bold ideas and real-world experience.”

TWO ENTER DELEGATE RACES: Louis Peck and Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat write about two new entries into the races for House of Delegates: Joseph Hennessey, a 52-year old Chevy Chase-based attorney who specializes in international litigation, is the fourth non-incumbent to take aim at an open state delegate seat in next June’s District 16 Democratic primary. And Helga Luest, who has lobbied the Maryland House of Delegates as president of a victims’ rights organization, is hoping to win election to that chamber representing District 18, where two delegate seats will be open in the Democratic primary: Del. Jeff Waldstreicher is running for state Senate, and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez is seeking a County Council seat.

TRUST ON STATUES: The editorial board of the Sun asks: who knew the folks at the Maryland Historical Trust were such masters of understatement? In their letter to the city of Baltimore complaining about Mayor Catherine Pugh’s unilateral decision to yank down four statues commemorating the Confederacy and the author of the Dred Scott decision, the group’s executive director conceded that returning the statues to their former locations is “perhaps untenable.” The case for removing them from their places of veneration was strong before Charlottesville; it’s overwhelming now.

OFFICIALS QUESTION DANCE TRIPS: Doug Donovan and Liz Bowie of the Sun writes that elected officials in Baltimore County are asking why the school board failed to scrutinize the extensive out-of-state travel by former superintendent Dallas Dance. The Baltimore Sun reported last week that Dance was traveling outside the school district during more than a third of all school days in 2016, mostly to speak at or attend conferences that focused primarily on education technology products and policies.

BILL CLINTON TO VISIT BALTIMORE: After he speaks at an opioid summit at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health today, former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to attend an event at the Sollers Point Library in Dundalk, according to Baltimore County Public Library officials, Jim Joyner and Pamela Wood write in the Sun.

SUIT AGAINST BLM, MCKESSON: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that accused Black Lives Matter and several movement leaders — including Baltimore’s DeRay Mckesson — of inciting violence that led to a gunman’s deadly ambush of law enforcement officers in Louisiana last year, the AP is reporting. And in a separate matter, another judge ruled that Mckesson and others may receive awards up to $1,000 in cash in a class-action settlement claiming police violated protesters’ civil rights in arresting them after the deadly shootings.

RX POT SHOP TO OPEN: Owners of Peake ReLeaf have found a place to set up a medical marijuana dispensary in Rockville, Bethany Rodgers reports for Bethesda Beat. Warren Lemley, Peake ReLeaf’s president, said the company is leasing space alongside a pizzeria and craft beer and wine store in a shopping center.

RX POT GROWER NEARS HARVEST: The first crop of medical marijuana is growing on the Lower Shore and may be available to patients in about a month, according to the company that secured the region’s lone state license. Jeremy Cox of the Salisbury Daily Times writes that Maryland’s medical marijuana program has been slowed by charges of racial and geographic bias in its selection of vendors. Although lawmakers legalized the drug in 2013, it has yet to reach a single patient in the Free State.

CITY PAPER TO CLOSE: Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports that four decades after a handful of students launched an alternative publication to their college paper, the City Paper will hit the streets in bright yellow boxes for the last time Wednesday. The free weekly that grew out of that 1977 experiment at the Johns Hopkins University became known for first-person and investigative journalism, provocative covers, lengthy calendar listings and an irreverent take on Baltimore culture and politics.

  • J D

    When Maryland passes the law on taking away parental right of convicted rapist then I see many will be better off because many are already being bullied because of their parents criminal conviction. Social Service will be working overtime to remove children from those homes.