State Roundup, December 12, 2017

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ASSEMBLY TO TRACK HARASSMENT: Maryland’s legislature is set to start tracking sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers and their staff members, as statehouses across the country confront mounting allegations of sexual misconduct and examine their policies for dealing with them, report Fenit Nirappil and Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. The General Assembly plans to update its sexual harassment policy to require the legislature’s human resources director to keep track of the number and type of complaints and how they were resolved.

MORHAIM SEES DELAY IN SICK LEAVE OVERRIDE: A veteran Baltimore County Democrat who voted in favor of a bill mandating paid sick leave is telling business groups and other organizations of a potential delay to an expected attempt to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Del. Dan K. Morhaim said he continues to support the policy of paid sick leave but is responding to concerns expressed by businesses in his district and is concerned about possible flaws that could harm small businesses.

WA CO OFFICIAL AMONG GERRYMANDER PLAINTIFFS: A Republican official from Washington County is among the plaintiffs in a gerrymandering case set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court next year. The nation’s high court announced Friday that it would hear the case involving Maryland’s 6th congressional district, where seven Republican plaintiffs have argued their constitutional rights were violated after it was redrawn in 2011 in a deliberate attempt to generate victories for Democrats. The plaintiffs in the case included Jerry DeWolf, chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee.

ON BEN GRUMBLES: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters profiles Ben Grumbles, Maryland’s secretary of the environment. He writes that Grumble’s personal green credentials are impeccable. But so, too, are his consensus-building skills and ability to walk a fine line between his own environmentalist instincts and the diverse priorities of the mostly Republican bosses he’s had throughout his career.

STATE SEEKS JUDGMENT OVERTURNED: The state is asking a federal judge to vacate her judgment from October 2013 finding Maryland’s state colleges and universities maintained traces of past segregation, arguing the court’s decision was based on flawed reasoning that came to light during this year’s remedial trial, reports Heather Cobun for the Daily Record. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake issued a sweeping permanent injunction and order Nov. 9 requiring a special master be appointed to oversee the creation of a remedial plan to address past unequal treatment of Maryland’s historically black institutions.

JUDGE APPOINTMENTS: Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday appointed a Maryland district court judge, an insurance company attorney and a law firm’s founding partner to fill three vacancies on the Montgomery County Circuit Court, Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes.

SKOL, FRANCHOT: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post salutes Comptroller Peter Franchot, opining “To all of our readers who are beer drinkers — or to those who just care about a more business-friendly environment in Maryland — we propose a toast: Raise your glasses to Peter Franchot! Franchot … announced recently that he will introduce a bill with a “12-pack” of craft brewery reforms in the 2018 General Assembly session. We hope this reform package will be able to pass the General Assembly, and we hope it is in time to help Frederick.”

ON CHICKEN FARM AIR POLLUTION: In an op-ed for the Sun, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is also a candidate for governor, urges the state and Gov. Hogan to conduct a study of air pollution from chicken farms, which disproportionately affects poor and minority communities. “Just as MDE monitors air emissions from many different pollution sources across the state … they should monitor air emissions on the Eastern Shore from the poultry industry. All Marylanders deserve the same protections from air pollution, no matter where they live,” he writes.

FRUSH’s LONG SERVICE: As Del. Barbara Frush prepares to leave the General Assembly after 24 years to take a post with Rushern Baker’s campaign for governor, Pat Furguson of the Annapolis Capital looks back at her career as a lawmaker. Frush helped pass Maryland’s Clean Indoor Air Act, and legislation that has protected the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s non-tidal wetlands, Maryland wildlife, and support citizen health and welfare.

OPIOID DEATHS UP IN ARUNDEL: Anne Arundel County has seen a record number of deaths caused by opioid overdoses in 2017, the second straight year for the county, writes Phil Davis for the Annapolis Capital. As of Dec. 6, the county has seen 142 people die due to opioid-related overdoses, according to statistics compiled by the Anne Arundel County Police Department. The year-to-date total eclipses 2016’s year-end total of 119 with three weeks left in the year.

HOGAN ON BALTIMORE CITY: Gov. Larry Hogan spoke with C4 on his WBAL-AM radio program and said his moves last week to direct more state and federal resources at fighting gangs and violent crime shouldn’t be taken as a statement on how City Hall and the police department are doing their jobs.

HARRIS’S GOP TALKING POINTS: Unlike Gov. Larry Hogan, the more conservative Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s sole remaining Republican congressman, does not shy away from Trump, and he previewed his own GOP talking points at Saturday’s GOP Christmas Party in Baltimore. “We are going to be in great shape in 2018,” said Harris, according to Len Lazarick in MarylandReporter.com.

Downtown Columbia on the shores of Lake Kittamaqundi at 11 a.m. July 2, 2016. Photo by Len Lazarick

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.

MO CO COUNCIL TO ADDRESS DEPORTATION: Though the legislation may be largely symbolic, members of the Montgomery County Council are expected to take a stand today in favor of county residents who under the Trump administration could lose the deportation protections they have enjoyed for years, Rachel Siegel of the Post is reporting. The administration has indicated that it will end temporary protected status for some immigrants who fled war or natural disaster to find a haven in the United States.

KRASNOW KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: Rose Krasnow, buoyed by the recent vote for term limits and a field of white male opponents, formally kicked off her campaign for Montgomery County executive in Rockville Sunday afternoon. Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat writes that Krasnow has spent the last 13 years at the county’s planning department, where she has worked as deputy director. Before that, she served three terms as Rockville mayor.

SESSIONS IN BALTIMORE: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen will address immigration enforcement and international gangs at a news conference in Baltimore today, writes John Fritze in the Sun.

BALTIMOREAN TAPPED AS AMBASSADOR: A Baltimore native and former co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers was sworn in as the U.S. ambassador to France and Monaco on Monday, John Fritze writes in the Sun. Jamie McCourt, whose father founded the Baltimore-based appliance and electronics chain Luskin’s, will head to Paris as U.S.-French relations have been jumbled by the divergent world views embraced by Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. Luskin died on Dec. 1.

HALF STAFF: Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered the Maryland state flag lowered to half-staff this week to honor Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Sander B. Cohen, who was fatally struck by a car on the shoulder of Interstate 270 in Montgomery County late Friday, writes Colin Campbell in the Sun.