State Roundup, November 28, 2017

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Sunday sunrise at State House by Ray Hoffman

TODAY IS GIVING TUESDAY, GIVING NEWS DAY MarylandReporter.com is joining more than 100 local and investigative newsrooms that are eligible to receive up to $28,000 each in matching grants, doubling every donation up to $1,000 they receive by Dec. 31. Giving Tuesday encourages people to support the causes that matter to them. #GivingNewsDay is a reminder that quality journalism shines a spotlight on those issues every day.

TAX PLAN THREATENS PRIVATE INVESTMENT: When Maryland officials announced last year they had secured funding for a $5.6 billion light rail project in the Washington suburbs, they touted the millions of dollars in private money that had been put up to offset the cost to taxpayers. Now, writes John Fritze for the Sun, as construction on the Purple Line gets underway, some of those same officials — Republicans and Democrats — are warning that a provision of the tax overhaul moving through Congress would threaten similar projects by making it more difficult to lure that private investment.

SUPREMES UPHOLD MD WEAPONS BAN: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand without comment a lower-court decision upholding the constitutionality of Maryland’s ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, those carrying more than 10 rounds of ammunition, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports. The justices declined to hear gun-rights advocates’ appeal of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ conclusion the ban on the high-powered guns and ammunition quantity does not implicate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms due to the weapons’ lethal ferocity “most useful in military service.”

LEGISLATIVE FIX FOR METRO: It seems everyone has a plan to fix Metro. Up next, liberals and labor unions. Reps. Anthony G. Brown and Jamie B. Raskin, both Maryland Democrats, plan to unveil legislation today to redirect federal transit funds to allow Metro to avoid cutting service or raising fares. The bill, drafted in coordination with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, also calls on Metro to adopt a set of labor-backed initiatives such as a pilot program offering flat fares, Robert McCartney and Faiz Siddiqui report in the Sun..

LOTTERY MONEY FOR PRIVATE PATROL: Baltimore video lottery money has been redirected to provide a Chevy Tahoe command vehicle for Baltimore Shomrim, a private Jewish neighborhood watch group. Former city councilwoman Rikki Spector, speaking to Baltimore Brew, said, “The General Assembly has strict rules we had to follow in disbursing the funds. … what has happened would never pass the smell test. It’s not kosher.” Mark Reutter writes the story for Baltimore Brew. The vehicle is dressed up to look like a Baltimore City Police vehicle.

HIGH ROLLING FUNDRAISERS: Candidates in Maryland are raising money at a furious pace – and they aren’t letting up just because the holiday season is upon us, when charitable giving comes to the fore. In fact, there are plenty of star-spangled, high-dollar events coming up in December that are worth highlighting. And Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters does just that, starting off with Mayor Catherine Pugh, and working his way through Senate President Mike Miller and Gov. Larry Hogan. He winds up with House Judiciary chair Joe Vallario.

JEALOUS, SANDERS TO PUSH UNIVERSAL CARE: Democrat Ben Jealous will pitch his plan for a state-based universal health care program next Wednesday during a Baltimore rally with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has pushed a similar “Medicare for all” plan in Congress. Jealous, the former head of the NAACP who is running for governor, has promised a Maryland plan that would provide health insurance to every state resident, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

PERSONAL SIDE OF BAKER: At a Suitland groundbreaking Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker showed a different side of himself when he finally stood as the last in a long line of speakers, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. The gubernatorial candidate was more personal than was expected.

CASE DISMISSAL SOUGHT: Attorneys for the Maryland Board of Elections on Monday sought to dismiss Krishanti Vignarajah’s lawsuit in which the Democratic candidate for governor asks the court to declare her eligible to run. Attorneys representing the state and its voter registration director, Mary Wagner, wrote in a motion that the case should be dismissed because Vignarajah has not formally filed to run for governor and no one has legally challenged her qualifications, reports Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat.

3 SEEK DEL. WILSON’s SEAT: Three candidates have applied for the Maryland House of Delegates seat recently vacated by Judge Brett R. Wilson, according Jerry DeWolf, chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee. Tamela Baker in the Herald-Mail writes DeWolf said that Hagerstown City Councilman Paul D. Corderman, Laura S. Herrera and Donald “Donny” J. Ravas Jr. will be considered for nomination to Gov. Larry Hogan for appointment to the seat from legislative District 2B.

NO. 29 SEEKS MO CO COUNCIL SEAT: Julian Haffner, an attorney who has been treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee since late last year, plans to file Monday as a candidate for County Council at-large, writes Louis Peck for Bethesda Beat. Haffner, a Gaithersburg resident, becomes the 29th candidate to file or publicly declare for one of four council at-large nominations at stake in next June’s primary.

RX POT SALES IN ALLEGANY: Allegany Medical Marijuana Dispensary expects to fill its first prescriptions for medical cannabis Friday, writes Greg Larry in the Cumberland Times-News. If that happens, it will be a transaction that will enter the history books. It will be the first time marijuana will have been legally sold for medical purposes in Allegany County. The rollout of the medical cannabis industry has taken more than four years. Maryland lawmakers approved medical cannabis during the 2013 legislative session.

UM TO HIRE BIAS INTERCEDER: The University of Maryland announced on Monday it will hire a hate bias response coordinator and issued new policies for addressing hate bias incidents, reports Christine Condon in the Diamondback.The coordinator will meet with individuals affected by hate bias incidents and work with a hate bias response team to develop action plans for these incidents.