State Roundup, February 16, 2018

Print More

Brit Kirwan, surrounded by Democratic legislators, discusses preliminary report of the commission he heads. MarylandReporter.com photo.

KIRWAN-SPURRED LEGISLATION: The statewide panel charged with changing how Maryland funds public schools for the next decade is still months away from finishing its work. But, report Michael Dresser and Liz Bowie of the Sun, the General Assembly’s Democratic leaders wasted no time in taking the panel’s preliminary recommendations and crafting legislation they hope will provide more money for high-poverty schools and establish a mandate for universal pre-kindergarten.

HOGAN ASKS U.S. SENATE TO PROTECT BAY: As Washington lawmakers hash out a federal budget deal, Gov. Larry Hogan has asked U.S. Senate leaders to kill a provision in a House spending bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority in Chesapeake Bay cleanup work, Scott Dance of the Sun is reporting.

PROBLEMS ALONG THE MONOCACY: The Environmental Integrity Project’s new report, Sewage and Wastewater Treatment Plants in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, shows that problems at the Frederick sewage treatment plant along the Monocacy River continued into 2017: between January and September of last year, it released 130,249 pounds of nitrogen — 34% more than its permit allows for the entire year. More broadly, the report discusses the problem of local pollution “hot spots” caused by pollution trading systems in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and the threat of a similar scheme proposed in Maryland, Tom Pelton of the Bay Journal opines in a commentary in MarylandReporter.

PIPE LINE PROTEST: The same day protesters circled the governor’s mansion in opposition to a gas pipeline proposed to run beneath the Potomac River, Maryland officials asked the Army Corps of Engineers not to give the project a permit until a state review is completed, Scott Dance of the Sun reports. Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles told the Corps in a letter that the state “has identified potential water quality and public interest factors” that could warrant special conditions being placed on the TransCanada Corp. project.

RX POT SUIT SETTLED: Erin Cox of the Sun reports that Maryland’s licensed marijuana growing companies announced Thursday that they settled the lawsuit that had threatened to upend the state’s new medical marijuana industry. The settlement terms were not disclosed, but the deal ends a 16-month legal action that sought to throw out all the state licenses to grow medical marijuana and start the application process anew.

SICK LEAVE DELAY DEAD: With Maryland’s new sick leave legislation technically in effect on Sunday, several business groups had pinned hopes on a five-month delay of the law that was approved by the Maryland Senate last week. Those hopes were dashed Thursday morning when the House Economic Matters Committee voted down the Senate’s bill, effectively killing the measure and upholding what sick leave advocates called a crucial advancement for working families, Erin Cox of the Sun reports.

PAROLE DECISIONS: Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that supporters of repeal legislation told a House of Delegates panel Thursday that Maryland governors must be stripped of the final say in parole decisions for life-sentenced inmates because the perceived political consequences of releasing a convicted killer has and will continue to make denial of release virtually certain in all cases.

FAILING TO REPORT: The General Assembly is considering whether mandatory reporters — health practitioners, police officers, educators and human service workers — should face a misdemeanor charge and up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine for failing to report child abuse if they have “actual knowledge” that it has occurred, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post.

PATIENTS’ BILL OF RIGHTS: A Senate committee will consider a bill that would expand patients’ rights and require that medical care providers notify patients about them, reports Kelsi Loos for the Frederick News-Post. Sen. Ron Young (D-District 3) and Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-District 3A) submitted cross-filed bills Senate Bill 530 and House Bill 562 that would build on current law by specifying that a hospital administrator must provide each patient with a written copy of the hospital’s patient’s bill of rights.

FIXING HATE CRIME LAW: Sen. John Astle’s bill tightening the hate crime law had a hearing before a Senate committee this week at which State’s Attorney Wes Adams urged legislators to fix “the deficiencies in the current hate crime law.” We endorse that, opines the editorial board for the Annapolis Capital. It’s obviously possible to target a group as well as an individual for a hate crime, and the law ought to reflect this. This is not a complicated fix, and the General Assembly ought to put it on Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk., the Capital says.

***COLD WEATHER DOESN’T STOP MARYLAND’S FARMERS: Across Maryland, farmers have wrapped up their harvest and gone into winter mode. But that doesn’t mean that their work is done until spring. Some farmers are doing paperwork and analyzing data to make decisions about next year’s crop. Others serve on boards or expand their education. Here’s what five farmers do during the winter to improve their farms. Read these farmers’ stories. SPONSORED CONTENT***

ON SCHOOL SHOOTING: In her Political Notes column, Kelsi Loos of the Frederick News Post writes that Maryland senators spoke out on the recent Florida school shooting in which a former student killed 17 students and teachers. Sen. Victor Ramirez of Prince George’s County kicked off the discussion noting that he feared for the safety of his children and urged lawmakers to address the issue.

GUN RIGHTS PROTESTERS SUE: Two brothers arrested nearly two weeks ago while engaged in a peaceful protest near the Maryland State House have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Maryland Capitol Police and the officer who arrested them, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record.

HOGAN ON AMAZON PITCH: Gov. Larry Hogan provided insight into Amazon’s timeline for choosing a second headquarters location while speaking to a business conference in Rockville on Thursday morning. Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat writes that Hogan said March 1 is the deadline for the state to finalize its updated submissions to the tech giant. Montgomery County is one of 20 finalists selected by Amazon to a shortlist of North American locations for its second headquarters.

HOGANS TOUT KOREAN DISHES: In honor of the Winter Olympics being held in South Korea, Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan dishes on some of her favorite home recipes that she learned as a child, including bulgogi, a marinated beef entree, and japchae, a popular Korean noodle dish and of course kimchi. Brittany Britto of the Sun reports.

KLAUSMEIER LEADS IN DEM POLL: Baltimore County state Sen. Kathy A. Klausmeier (D), a top Republican target this year, has opened up a 16-point lead over her likely GOP challenger, Del. Christian J. Miele, according to a recent Democratic poll. The survey, conducted by TargetSmart Communications, a Washington, D.C., political data firm, showed Klausmeier with 55% in an initial head-to-head matchup, Miele with 39% and 6% of the voters queried were undecided, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters.

MANNING ON MILITARIZATION OF POLICE: Chelsea Manning, running for the Democratic nomination for Senate in Maryland, says there is another urgent discussion voters must face: How a burgeoning military apparatus is gradually creeping into domestic life in places like Baltimore, writes John Fritze for the Sun. “Many of the weapons that we were using in Iraq and Afghanistan have found their way to our streets, and many people who are veterans and have military training are bringing this military training” to police forces, the former Army intelligence analyst said.