State Roundup, January 31, 2018

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EDUCATION REVENUE ‘LOCKBOX:’ Leading General Assembly Democrats on Tuesday threw their support behind a proposal to channel the state’s casino revenue to a “lockbox” for education funding, writes Scott Dance for the Sun.

RAPISTS’ PARENTAL RIGHTS: More than a decade after advocates began the battle, legislation that would let rape victims terminate the parental rights of their assailants is on the verge of final passage, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. The Senate passed the bill 45-0 on Tuesday morning. Minutes earlier, the House gave unanimous initial approval to an identical bill without discussion or debate.

FETAL MURDER BILL: The parents of a pregnant teacher slain in Maryland last year are pushing for a law that would allow prosecutors to charge anyone who kills a fetus with murder or manslaughter, regardless of the viability of the fetus. Its sponsors say the bill could become tangled up in the public debate over abortion rights, even though it would not apply to pregnancies terminated through abortion, Ovetta Wiggins and Josh Hicks report in the Post.

‘KUSHNER ACT’ INTRODUCED: A Democratic state lawmaker from Baltimore has introduced a bill that would prohibit Maryland judges from issuing civil arrest warrants for tenants being sued for less than $5,000 in unpaid rent — a proposal titled the “Jared Kushner Act,” Doug Donovan of the Sun reports. Del. Bilal Ali’s proposed legislation comes five months after the Sun reported that the apartment management company owned by Kushner, son-in-law and top adviser to President Donald Trump, was the most aggressive landlord in Maryland in obtaining civil arrest warrants called “body attachments” against tenants.

MANDATORY GUN SENTENCES: Gov. Larry Hogan and chief county prosecutors battled the public defender’s office and the ACLU on Tuesday over his proposal to impose mandatory minimum sentences on repeat gun offenders, with law enforcement calling the measure necessary to reduce slayings and the defense saying it would usurp judicial discretion, reports Steve Lash in the Daily Record.

GUNS AT SCHOOL: Harford County Del. Rick Impallaria filed a bill Tuesday that would give public school districts across the state the authority to allow “certain, select” employees to carry firearms on school property to prevent or minimize the loss of life in a school shooting, reports David Anderson for the Aegis. “The bill is very simple,” Impallaria, a Republican, said. “All we’re doing is giving authority to those school systems to put this into practice.”

ELIMINATING POLITICS FROM PAROLE PROCESS: Walter Lomax of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative writes in an op-ed for Maryland Matters that politics must be taken out of the parole process. This change would not create a mass exodus of people serving parole-eligible life sentences, but just a sensible approach to what has proven to work in the past; giving these individuals a meaningful opportunity at release. The parole process would still be under the executive branch’s authority because the governor would still appoint the parole commissioners.

ETHICS IN FREDERICK: The Maryland Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee could soon take a position on proposed changes to ethics laws in Frederick County, reports Kelsi Loos for the Frederick News Post. Sen. Michael Hough (R-District 4) outlined the objectives of the Frederick County delegation’s ethics bill Tuesday before the committee.

SPECIAL ED FUNDING, AS IT SHOULD BE: Kalman Hettleman, a member of the Kirwan Commission on education reform, writes in an op-ed for the Sun that one of the least noticed recommendations in the preliminary report of the commission has the potential to revolutionize special education. It calls for an “independent expert study” of the actual costs of adequate special education. Past and present studies, including those presented to the commission, estimate the costs of special education as it is, not as it should be. There’s a world of difference, with tragic consequences, Hettleman says, and we in Maryland have the chance to get it right.

STATE OF THE STATE: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) delivers the final State of the State address of his term cognizant of powerful realities, both positive and negative, that will determine whether he gets a second four-year stint as Maryland’s chief executive, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

SEX MISCONDUCT FALLOUT: Josh Hicks of the Post reports that the fallout from the recent wave of high-profile sexual misconduct cases has spread to Maryland’s gubernatorial race, with several candidates wrestling with how to deal with support from individuals accused of such wrongdoing.

VIGNARAJAH DROPS SUIT: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Krishanti Vignarajah dropped a lawsuit she filed against Gov. Larry Hogan’s campaign and the state Board of Elections in which she was asking a judge to affirm her eligibility to run for governor, Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat reports.

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FEDERAL FUNDS FOR METRO: Robert McCartney of the Post reports that a partisan split in the Washington area’s congressional delegation over how to increase federal funding for Metro has raised concerns that the lack of unity will lead Congress to balk at giving the transit system critically needed support. The division emerged Tuesday when Democratic House members from the area filed a Metro funding bill that would double the federal subsidy to the transit agency and be more friendly to its unions than legislation proposed by Virginia Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock. Another bill however appears to have the backing of a number of members of Maryland’s congressional delegation.

OAKS’ DEFENSE: Bill Zorzi of Maryland Matters outlines the case that state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks and his legal team are putting forth as they claim that the FBI worked for two years to entrap him in a corruption scandal.

WOLF TO CHALLENGE FROSH: Republican lawyer Craig Wolf told Erin Cox of the Sun on Tuesday that he’s planning to campaign to be Maryland’s next attorney general. Wolf , who lives in Howard County, said he joined the U.S. Army after the 9/11 attacks and currently is the president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a trade group.

DISTRICT 16, 17 RACES: Adam Pagnucco of Seventh State writes about the District 16 and 17 State House races not only from the fundraising perspective but at the various incumbents, their work record and the candidate juggling that is taking place. Especially interesting is Sen. Cheryl Kagan’s wait and see approach to the District 17 delegate slate.

REACTION TO STATE OF UNION: Maryland Democrats expressed skepticism Tuesday that President Donald J. Trump’s first State of the Union speech would change the political landscape on Capitol Hill or lead to bipartisan breakthroughs on immigration, infrastructure and other pressing issues, John Fritze of the Sun reports..

CONSPIRACY THEORIST: Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland tells readers that an anti-Catholic conspiracy theorist is running as a Republican for the nomination for U.S. Senate.

ROSENSTEIN PUMMELLED: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks writes that Rod Rosenstein, who served honorably and effectively as the U.S. attorney for Maryland for 12 years, must be longing for the simpler days when he supervised the prosecution of vicious gang members, drug dealers, bank robbers, pornographers and Medicare cheats. Since arriving at the Justice Department, Rosenstein has gone from being called a “useful patsy” by the left — for his role in providing, wittingly or not, grounds for Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey — to being a man of principle — for naming Robert Mueller special counsel for the Russian investigation — to what Rodricks saw Tuesday in a looney right-wing screed: “Agent of the deep state coup.”