State Roundup, February 6, 2018

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Gun rights advocates, like these in a 2016 photo, have demonstrated on the same stretch of Annapolis sidewalk often over the years. For some unexplained reason, the Capitol Police Monday night decided they could no longer stand on the public sidewalk. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record has video of the arrests. MarylandReporter.com photo.

GUN-RIGHTS ADVOCATES ARRESTED AT PROTEST: Two sign-toting gun rights advocates were arrested near the State House on Monday night for ignoring officers’ orders to move off a public sidewalk. The men belong to The Patriot Picket, an organization that frequently protests Maryland gun laws at the corner of College Avenue and Blagden Street, where they will be seen by lawmakers arriving in Annapolis, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

STOPPING GUN VIOLENCE: Some state legislators who represent Baltimore in Annapolis are trying to increase state funding for programs designed to prevent gun violence before it happens, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports. The officials compared gun violence to a contagious disease at a press conference announcing the legislation Monday in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood.

NO TO TEACHERS CARRYING GUNS: A bill proposed by a Harford County Republican and co-sponsored by two Carroll County delegates would enable public school districts across the state to allow “certain, select” employees to carry firearms on school property. The idea is to find a more cost-effective way to protect Maryland’s students and staff from shootings inside schools. The editorial board for the Carroll County Times, while agreeing that keeping students safe should be a top priority and that having armed personnel in schools may prevent such a tragedy from occurring here, opines that it would prefer those individuals be trained resource officers, not educators or administrators.

CLEAN ENERGY BILL SPEEDS ALONG: When environmental groups and their allies began pushing for new regulations that would require half of Maryland’s power to come from renewable sources by 2030, they assumed it would be a two- or three-year campaign. But, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters, now that more than half of the members of the House of Delegates and state Senate have committed to co-sponsoring the legislation in this session, organizers are beginning to rethink their strategy.

POWER LINE BILLS: Del. Kathy Szeliga and state Sen. J.B. Jennings have filed four bills addressing the high voltage power line project proposed for Northern Harford County, Allan Vought writes in the Aegis. “The Transource Project in Harford County has brought to light some serious concerns about how these type of power transmission projects are handled in our rural and agricultural areas,” Szeliga wrote in a press release.

GOVERNMENT SUITS AGAINST DRUG COMPANIES: Five Maryland counties, Baltimore City, and possibly the state, are suing manufacturers and distributors of addictive painkillers for their roles in creating the opioid epidemic that has hit Maryland particularly hard, Jo Martin reports in MarylandReporter. Legal action is at the top of Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2018 tactics for getting a handle on the crisis. He directed Attorney General Brian Frosh to initiate a lawsuit, but in a continuation of their public tiff, Frosh said he was planning to do so but cannot proceed because the governor denied funding for additional staff.

HARFORD SEEKS PROJECT FUNDS: Harford County legislators have filed bond bills in Annapolis seeking funding for two local projects: A shelter for the Harford chapter of SARC, or Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center, and improvements to the historic Baity Building facility of the Children’s Center of North Harford in Street, David Anderson reports in the Aegis.

SENATE PANEL TO END STREAMING: The Senate committee that reviews appointments made by the governor will stop streaming its sessions once interviews with nominees are completed. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee, which meets most Mondays during the 90-day session, is responsible for interviewing and vetting hundreds of appointments made by the governor each year. Those interviews, which most times are innocuous and without incident, are streamed live on the General Assembly’s website, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS: Members of Maryland’s House of Delegates hope to join an effort that could lead to congressional term limits. State legislators recently filed a joint resolution applying to participate in a national convention to work with other states on a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the time a person could serve in Congress, CJ Lovelace reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

OC COUNCIL VOTES AGAINST TURBINES: The Ocean City Town Council voted unanimously Monday night to oppose the construction of wind turbines that would be visible anywhere along the town’s 10 miles of coastline, Jeremy Cox reports for the Salisbury Daily Times. “This is a big project that will be there for many, many years, and we only get one chance to make it right,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “Let’s not go build something we’re all going to regret.” The town’s rejection is a political blow to America’s first large-scale offshore wind development. But it is largely a symbolic one; the turbines are being planned in federal waters.

STATE CENTER BATTLE: Melody Simmons of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that the ongoing battle over the redevelopment of State Center between the state and former private developer, Ekistics, continued Monday. Ekistics released a study of the project and outlined its economic impact on Baltimore and the state, calling it a potential job growth provider and “a model public private partnership project,” among other findings. It’s the latest move in the attempt by Ekistics to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan and the General Assembly to reconsider and reinstate a $1.5 billion redevelopment plan of the state office complex. The governor has said he favors a redevelopment of State Center, but not by Ekistics.

HOGAN RECOUPS AFTER PROCEDURE: Gov. Larry Hogan spent Monday working from Government House, aides said, following an outpatient procedure to remove four cancerous lesions over the weekend, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

INDEPENDENT PAC REGISTERS: The first independent expenditure campaign of the Maryland gubernatorial election has registered with the State Board of Elections. Called Maryland Together We Rise, the political action committee is advocating for the election of former NAACP president Ben Jealous for governor, Josh Kurtz writes in Maryland Matters.

CONWAY-WASHINGTON CONTEST: There are a few generational battles for state Senate seats on tap in the Baltimore area this year. But the Democratic primary battle in District 43, between state Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Mary L. Washington is a little different. It isn’t quite a grudge match, and it isn’t quite a generational battle. But it is, to a degree, a question about the old way of doing business in the diverse district versus something new, Kaanita Iyer reports for Maryland Matters.

SHREVE MAY NOT RUN FOR STATE SENATE: Rumors suggest that Frederick County Councilman Billy Shreve may not be running for the state Senate after all, Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland writes. Shreve had been intending to run for state Senate in District 3, where he was to face Craig Giangrande in the Republican primary. Giangrande had $98,000 cash-on-hand at the end of the filing period, whereas Shreve had only $3,000.

INDEPENDENT LAUNCHES SENATE CAMPAIGN: Neal Simon, a Potomac businessman launching an independent campaign for the Senate in Maryland today, watched last week’s State of the Union in a state of despair. His problem wasn’t with what President Donald Trump was saying, per se, but the reaction he was getting from the House floor. “The reaction was just so partisan,” the 49-year-old businessman said.