State Roundup, December 11, 2017

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SUPREMES TO HEAR GERRYMANDER CASE: The Supreme Court said Friday that it will hear a challenge to Maryland’s congressional districts brought by seven Republican voters who say the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights, reports John Fritze in the Sun.

CAUTIOUS, UPBEAT ON FBI HQ: After planning that began in the George W. Bush administration, officials from Maryland at the national and state level are cautiously optimistic the latest push for a new FBI complex located outside the District of Columbia will come to fruition after a five-month delay, F. Meils and Helen Parshall of CNS report.

LAWMAKERS TO TACKLE HEALTH CARE: After months of turmoil on Maryland’s individual health exchange, the General Assembly will get its first crack at tackling some of the forces that led to significant increases in premiums this year, Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports. The legislature’s work will have to take on a sense of urgency as insurance companies predict that without changes, the state’s exchange could collapse by 2019.

SEX OFFENDERS MUST REGISTER: Convicted and registered sex offenders who move to Maryland must register on the state’s sex-offender registry even if they committed their offenses before Maryland established its registry in 1995, the state’s second highest court has ruled. Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports that the Court of Special Appeals said Maryland’s after-the-fact registry requirement does not violate the Constitution’s prohibition on being subject to a punishment that became law after the criminal offense was committed.

HELPING POOR STAY WARM: Todd Nedwick of the National Housing Trust, in a piece for MarylandReporter, writes that with winter upon bearing down on Maryland, leaky windows, aging HVAC systems, and poorly insulated buildings will mean too many low-income families can’t keep the warm air in and the cold air out. The good news is Maryland’s Department of Housing & Community Development has a new plan to add energy efficient upgrades in 14,000 homes and apartments for low-income families through 2020.

MO CO SEEKS SCHOOL CALENDAR FLEXIBILITY: Montgomery County education officials are renewing their request to Gov. Larry Hogan to ease up on his school calendar mandate, reports Bethany Rodgers for Bethesda Beat. School board President Michael Durso had sent Hogan a letter outlining the challenges of designing a school year to fit within the state-mandated timeframe. Hogan has ordered school districts to begin classes after Labor Day and wrap them up by June 15. Durso didn’t quarrel with the start date, but said Montgomery County would appreciate some flexibility with the hard stop.

LOCALS CHEER HOGAN: In addressing the Maryland Association of Counties conference in Cambridge last week, Gov. Larry Hogan was met with applause and cheering during a speech in which he vowed to “finally put local planning authority back in the hands of local government where it belongs.” That’s because his audience represented the local governments of Maryland’s 23 counties and the city of Baltimore, Connie Connolly writes in the Cecil Whig from Easton Star-Democrat. (The majority of county officials in Maryland are Republican. Hogan made a similar promise at MACo’s summer conference.)

FRUSH TO CO-CHAIR BAKER PANEL: Del. Barbara A. Frush (D-Prince George’s), announced Friday that she will not seek reelection in 2018 and instead will serve as co-chair of the steering committee for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III’s gubernatorial campaign, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. Frush, a veteran lawmaker, has represented Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties in the state legislature for 24 years.

ROSS CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Among his political notes from across the state, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that Democratic gubernatorial contender Alec Ross’ campaign manager has been on the job for a week, and he likes what he sees so far. Shaun Daniels, a former librarian, is a well-traveled political operative who has spent a significant amount of time in Virginia – most recently working for a political action committee and a direct mail firm that helped Democrats make substantial gains in the House of Delegates this fall.

MO CO EXEC CANDIDATES: Six candidates for Montgomery County executive appeared before African American, Latino and Asian community leaders Friday morning to make their cases for why they should be elected to lead a majority-minority jurisdiction that is the most populous in the state, writes Rachel Siegel in the Post. All six of the candidates — along with one who was absent from the forum — are white. “We’re very concerned about that,” said Carmen Larsen, president of the county’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Siegel also reports on a controversy caused by candidate Robin Ficker.

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VISIT TO GOVERNMENT HOUSE: As snow fell Saturday afternoon, Greg Osborn and his 8-year-old daughter, Maddie, were among the guests waiting in a line that stretched along State Circle for a peek inside Gov. Larry Hogan and first lady Yumi Hogan’s Annapolis residence. The Hogans welcomed guests into the governor’s mansion for an annual holiday open house, and Saturday’s weather did not stop guests, Sarah Meehan reports in the Sun.

TALKING ABOUT COLUMBIA AT 50: MarylandReporter.com Editor Len Lazarick will be talking about his new book, Columbia at 50: A Memoir of a City, at the Howard County Central Library on Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia this Wednesday evening, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. He’ll be selling and signing copies as well. The book is $15 and is available from MarylandReporter.com in time for Christmas. The book is also sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookLocker.com and other online retailers.

RIEMER GOES TO D.C.: In their Politics Roundup column for Bethesda Beat, Andrew Metcalf and Louis Peck write about Montgomery Council chair Hans Riemer testifying against a sick leave bill on Capitol Hill, that if passed would pre-empt the county’s effort to ensure sick leave and U.S. Rep. Raskin celebrates his birthday without an invited headliner, who was accused of sexual harassment.

ON MONTGOMERY POLITICS: Former at-large Montgomery County Councilman Steve Silverman talks about a number of Montgomery issues on Ryan Miner’s a Miner Detail radio program including, the looming county executive and County Council races.

KEEPING IT RURAL: It’s been exactly 50 years since planners in Baltimore County came up with one of the weirdest-sounding bureaucratic acronyms — URDL — that in time has become a national model for sensible growth management. The Urban-Rural Demarcation Line was created by the Baltimore County Planning Board in 1967 with the then-novel idea that the county should focus population growth in a handful of prime areas inside the URDL while land beyond the demarcation line retains its rural qualities. Barry Rascovar, in his Political Maryland column, explains why this has been important to Baltimore County.

DEMS SEEK PEROUTKA RESIGNATION: The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee is calling on County Council Chairman Michael Peroutka to resign, reports Chase Cook in the Annapolis Capital. In a statement sent Friday to the Capital, committee Chairwoman Christine Davenport called on the Millersville Republican to relinquish his position as council chairman and resign from the council. The committee, which serves as the party organization in the county, also called on Republican members of the council to hold a new vote on the chairmanship.

CARDIN USES ROY MOORE IN FUND-RAISING EFFORT: Sen. Ben Cardin weighed in on Alabama’s unpredictable Senate contest Friday with a fundraising solicitation criticizing Republican Roy Moore as an “extremist.” The blast email described Moore as a “man who has spent decades spouting his racist, sexist, xenophobic beliefs,” though it made no mention of accusations that Moore pursued relationships with teenagers. Those allegations have been a central issue for weeks, and have turned a race that should have been easy for Republicans into a far more competitive contest, writes John Fritze for the Sun.

MARYLANDERS ON JERUSALEM DECISION: When President Donald Trump announced that the United States would break long-standing tradition by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving its embassy there, he framed the decision as “the right thing to do” and “nothing more or less than a recognition of reality.” Jonathan Pitts of the Sun reports that reactions in Maryland, however, were about as divided as those of the rest of the world.