State Roundup, November 2, 2017

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CSX PROMPTS STATE TO CANCEL FUNDING REQUEST: CSX Transportation withdrew its support for a long-awaited expansion of the aging Howard Street Tunnel under downtown, causing state officials to cancel a request for $155 million in federal money for a project they hoped would be a boon for the Port of Baltimore, Colin Campbell and Michael Dresser of the Sun report. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad — successor to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad — did not explain why it was turning its back on the project, which would have expanded the century-old tunnel to accommodate trains with shipping containers stacked two-high.

BPW DELAYS CONTRACT DECISION: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the state’s Board of Public Works has delayed a decision on a child support services contract for the city of Baltimore after the winning bid came in at nearly $14 million more than the lowest proposal. “How do you explain why these proposals are so vastly different?” asked Comptroller Peter Franchot, who along with Gov. Larry Hogan and Treasurer Nancy Kopp makes up the board. “Have you been unhappy with the incumbent, Maximus, to the extent that you’re going to choose someone that is $13.7 million higher?”

CHOPTANK OYSTER PLANS CUT: Maryland has decided to reduce the large-scale oyster restoration project goal in the Little Choptank River after boaters ran aground at another sanctuary and some of the man-made reefs there had to be rebuilt, reports Alex Mann of Capital News Service.

THE GARRETT COLLEGE MODEL: As college students continue to worry about how to pay for a post-secondary education Garrett County, in the far reaches of Western Maryland, has created a mechanism to provide its students with a free, two-year community college education. It’s the first and only county in the state to institute a scholarship program for the graduates of its two high schools who enroll at Garrett College in McHenry, And in the 11 years of the program, it has grown, writes Meghan Thompson for Maryland Matters.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS HARMS SCHOOLS: In response to an op-ed published earlier this week by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Shea on the delays of education funding recommendations by the Kirwan Commission, Montgomery Republican Richard Jurgena writes in Maryland Matters that what Maryland students can’t afford is another year of Maryland and, in particular, Montgomery County’s political correctness.

MORE ON MAGLEV: A competition between two technologies vying to provide high-speed transportation between Baltimore and Washington could pit old-school organized labor against futurist entrepreneur Elon Musk. Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail and North America’s Building Trade Unions held a ceremonial signing of a memorandum of understanding on Thursday at the B&O Railroad Museum in west Baltimore. The agreement mandates contractors building the organization’s proposed superconducting magnetic levitation train line provide apprenticeship readiness programs to train local residents and hire union labor, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports. .

GOP ELECTION PROBE RELEASED: Republican Charlene Cowan writes in Red Maryland that a final report on election integrity specifically focusing on election problems during the 2016 primary has been released by the 2016 Maryland Republican Election Integrity Adhoc Committee.

ALMOND RUNS FOR BA CO EXEC: Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond says she never pictured herself being where she is now: running to become the first woman to serve as Baltimore County executive, reports Pamela Wood in the Sun.

BROCHIN’s CHANGE OF HEART: In a scathing op-ed for the Sun, former Democratic political aide Pat Murray writes that state Sen. Jim Brochin’s calling for a special session to create health insurance subsidies for individuals who are losing federal aid. Brochin’s a conservative Democrat who has spent 15 years standing with Republicans against working families. Why this jaw-dropping reversal? Murray asks. Well, he’s running for county executive.

DEMOCRAT ENTERS DISTRICT 15 DELEGATE RACE: Montgomery County’s Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for economic and workforce development will announce this Sunday that she is running for District 15 state delegate, becoming the first Democratic candidate to officially enter the race to replace outgoing Del. Aruna Miller, who is running for the Democratic nomination in Maryland’s 6th Congressional District., Ryan Miner writes in his Miner Detail blog.

TRUMP TAPS ROSENSTEIN REPLACEMENT: President Trump on Wednesday tapped a high-level Justice Department official, Robert K. Hur, to lead the Maryland U.S. attorney’s office where he was a longtime federal prosecutor, Lynh Bui and Ann Marimow report in the Post. If confirmed, Hur will take over one of the country’s busiest U.S. attorney’s offices, which has a reputation for handling sophisticated cases involving political corruption, white-collar fraud and vast gang conspiracies that drive violent crime.

RUSSIAN FACEBOOK AD TARGETED MARYLAND: John Fritze of the Sun reports that a Russian-linked Facebook ad that ran in Maryland in the months following the 2015 riots in Baltimore included a photograph of Freddie Gray and the words “never forget,” part of what lawmakers described Wednesday as a campaign to stir tensions in the United States around race, police and politics.

SUPPORTERS RALLY AROUND CROSS: Supporters of a towering cross-shaped monument at a busy intersection in Bladensburg asked an appeals court on Wednesday to revisit a ruling that said it was unconstitutional to have the memorial on public land, Ann Marimow of the Post is reporting.

CARROLL RESIDENT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT: AJ Wildman believes America needs new leadership from practical problem-solvers. That’s why Wildman, of Westminster, plans to run for president of the United States as an independent candidate in 2020, writes Michel Elben for the Carroll County Times. “Because I solved problems professionally, I think I can solve America’s problems,” Wildman said during a recent interview at the Carroll County Public Library’s Westminster branch. “We need a president and Congress that is working for us, and not big business and the wealthy.”