State Roundup, January 23, 2018

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THE AMAZON PITCH: Gov. Larry Hogan released some details on Monday of his $5 billion pitch to lure Amazon to Montgomery County, proposing a PRIME Act that would give Fortune 100 companies that invest $5 billion in the state a series of tax breaks worth $3 billion, Erin Cox reports for the Sun. Combined with $2 billion in proposed road and infrastructure projects, the incentives offered Amazon would represent the largest economic development package in state history.

HOGAN CUTS FROSH’S TRUMP SUIT FUND: Maryland lawmakers promised Attorney General Brian Frosh $1 million and five new lawyers to file lawsuits against the Trump administration next year, but Republican Gov. Larry Hogan left that money out of his budget, Erin Cox is reporting in the Sun. Instead, the Hogan administration suggested Frosh divert money from his office’s Consumer Protection Division to finance litigation against the federal government.

POT CRACKDOWN NOT A PRIORITY: Maryland’s top federal prosecutor said he has no plans to enforce federal anti-drug laws against medical marijuana growers and distributors in the state, Steve Lash of the Daily Record is reporting. When asked if Maryland’s medical marijuana industry has anything to fear from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ directive that federal prosecutors decide for themselves whether to enforce federal marijuana laws aggressively in states where pot is legal, acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning said Friday his top priorities are combatting threats to national security, violent crime, the opioid epidemic and public corruption.

PIPELINE PROTEST: As people spoke against a proposed natural-gas pipeline during a hearing in Hancock on Monday, other foes gathered outside to boycott the proceedings, Mike Lewis is reporting for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. More than 60 people attended the Maryland Department of the Environment public hearing at Hancock Middle-Senior High School. As they have done before, opponents raised concerns about environmental pollution, climate change and contamination of water wells.

100% RENEWABLES: Del. Shane Robinson makes a case for his bill to accelerate Maryland’s use of renewable energy to 100% by 2015, writing in a commentary for Maryland Matters that as the climate disasters of 2017 made clear, the time for half-measures has passed. “From wildfires in California to hurricanes in the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, this past year has made clear the urgent need for Maryland to take the lead in addressing the worsening climate crisis.”

OPIOID ROUNDTABLE: Arundel County and state legislators are joining together today for a roundtable discussion on the county’s response to opioid deaths and overdoses, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital writes. The event is hosted by County Executive Steve Schuh and Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Other participants include Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena; Del. Eric Bromwell, D-Baltimore County; county police chief Timothy Altomare and county attorney Nancy Duden.

EARLY PAY PROPERTY TAX DEDUCTION: Some tax experts in the Washington region say the IRS was wrong when it announced taxpayers who prepaid their property taxes could claim the deduction only if those taxes were assessed and paid in 2017. They say its stance carries no legal authority. They are encouraging homeowners who made prepayments to claim the deductions. And they are warning government officials not to offer refunds to those who prepaid, saying that doing so would jeopardize the chances of deductibility, Rachel Siegel reports for the Post.

DEMS SPLIT VOTE ON ENDING SHUTDOWN: Maryland’s congressional Democrats were divided over whether to support a Senate measure to temporarily fund the federal government and end the government shutdown, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. Reps. John Delaney and Dutch Ruppersburger joined Maryland’s lone Republican, Andy Harris, in voting for the bill, which passed 266-150 on Monday evening. Only 45 Democrats supported the measure, which had the support of all but six Republicans. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen also voted for the measure, which re-starts government operations after a three-day shutdown.

LEGGETT TO ENDORSE BAKER: Maryland gubernatorial candidate Rushern L. Baker III (D) will receive his latest endorsement from his neighboring county executive, former law school dean and longtime friend, Ike Leggett (D), Tuesday. Leggett will endorse Baker, who is in his eighth year as Prince George’s County executive, at Howard University Law School in Washington, where the two met three decades ago, Rachel Siegel reports for the Post.

POLICING & CONSENT DECREE: In the 2nd part of CNS’s series on fixing the Baltimore City Police Department, J.F. Meils and Allies Melton take a look at Baltimore’s federal consent decree, which includes long, detailed sections that redefine the department’s overall style of policing, how stops, searches and arrests will be conducted and measured, as well as intricate new directives on the use of force, officer accountability, data collection and implementation of new technologies. Critics are skeptical changes can be implemented.

MONTGOMERY RACES UPDATED: Glynis Kazanjian updates MarylandReporter’s list of candidates running for local, state and federal offices in Montgomery County.

LABOR UNION BACKS ELRICH: One of the region’s largest labor unions endorsed Montgomery County Council member Marc Elrich for county executive Monday, lauding his support for minimum-wage increases, paid sick and family leave and workers’ rights over his 12 years in office, the Post’s Rachel Siegel reports.

SELF-FUNDING MO CO CANDIDATES: Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat reports that several Democratic candidates vying for open seats in Bethesda-area state legislative districts are digging deep into their personal assets to boost their competitiveness in this year’s June 26 primary, according to campaign finance reports filed last week with the state Board of Elections. Included is political activist Dana Beyer of Chevy Chase, who once again is pouring personal funds into a race. She made a $103,100 personal loan to her bid against Del. Jeff Waldstreicher of Kensington for the District 18 Senate seat held by Democrat Rich Madaleno, who is seeking his party’s nomination for governor.

FED GRANT FOR GARRETT MED: The Garrett County Republican is reporting that U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as U.S. Rep. John Delaney, have announced a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to the Garrett Regional Medical Center. The grant will fund the purchase of a new telemedicine and telecommunications system that will allow the hospital’s healthcare providers to provide patients with real-time medical consultations from a distance.

HONORING LONG-TIME COUNCIL STAFFER: Louis Peck of Bethesda Beat pays tribute to retiring County Council Chief Clerk Linda Lauer, who was 19 when she started working for the Montgomery County Council. It was the era of smoke-filled rooms—literally. “It’s a whole different society now—people are appalled to even hear that used to happen,” Lauer, who retired at the beginning of January after nearly 50 years on the council staff, chuckled during a recent phone interview.