State Roundup, March 21, 2018

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AFTER SCHOOL SHOOTING, BLAME & DEBATE: Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that, hours after a shooting at a Southern Maryland school Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) faulted the General Assembly for not moving more quickly on school safety legislation he submitted recently. Legislative leaders and others quickly protested, accusing the first-term governor of politicizing a tragedy.

MEDICAID DENTAL COVERAGE: The Maryland House of Delegates is set to consider a bill to establish a pilot program to provide dental insurance for Medicaid recipients, the first step toward what some lawmakers hope will be a plan to deliver extensive coverage to those with the most serious dental conditions, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

RX POT EXPANSION: Opponents of an effort to expand the number of medical cannabis grower and processing licenses say a legislative effort to promote diversity will have the opposite effect and would likely benefit companies that already hold licenses, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. The hearing on companion House and Senate bills put a spotlight back on an issue that ended the 2017 session in controversy and one that continues to keep a quick solution at bay.

CAPITAL BUDGET VOTE: The Maryland Senate is expected to vote today on a $1 billion capital budget bill that does not include future financing of the proposed downtown Frederick hotel and conference center, Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News Post reports. Sen. Ron Young (D-District 3) said he expects $11 million in funding preauthorizations for the project, which were deleted when Gov. Larry Hogan (R) first presented the bill, will be added at a later time. The Senate gave preliminary approval to the capital budget on Tuesday.

NAXOLONE DISPENSING: The opioid roundtable earlier in the General Assembly has spawned another round of legislation, one of which would allow paramedics to dispense the powerful anti-overdose drug naloxone, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital. House Minority Leader Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena, testified Tuesday in favor of his proposal to allow paramedics to dispense naloxone after hearing testimony in support of the idea from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department Chief Allan Graves.

  • Frederick County delegates’ proposals to address opioid abuse may not have made it to the Senate before the Monday crossover deadline, but the lawmakers aren’t worried. A measure from Del. William Folden (R-District 3B) to allow emergency medical responders to carry larger doses of opioid antidote stalled in committee, but the proposed change has already been adopted as a Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems protocol, Kelsi Loos reports for the Frederick News-Post.

HBCUs COMPENSATION: “A billion is not enough,” said Sen. Joan Carter Conway at HBCU Night, where legislators and students, presidents and alumni of Maryland’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities gathered last Thursday. JK Schmid writes in the Afro, but Gov. Larry Hogan’s February offer of $100 million was not found worthy of consideration, as stakeholders tried to prime the cost of decades of discriminatory practices towards Maryland’s four HBCUs. “Prior to litigation, they owed the historically Black institutions $300 million to $600 million,” Conway said.

HOPKINS COPS: Members of a Maryland House of Delegates committee Tuesday skeptically questioned Johns Hopkins University leaders about their plan to establish a private police department, Tim Curtis reports for the Daily Record. Hopkins wants to create the police department as a response to rising crime around its university and medical campuses, but some legislators on the Judiciary Committee wondered whether it was appropriate to allow a private body police privileges.

DOCTORS TESTIFYING: Maryland’s main physicians’ organization is urging the House of Delegates to reject Senate-passed legislation that would permit doctors to spend more time testifying as experts in medical malpractice cases. Senate Bill 30 would repeal a 30-year-old law that limits to 20% the amount of a doctor’s professional activities that can be devoted to courtroom testimony and related activities – such as pre-trial preparation – in malpractice cases, Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes.

WHAT MIGHT MAKE IT: Monday was the 69th day of the Maryland General Assembly’s annual session. It’s what’s known in the State House as Cross-over Day. All bills must pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly and “cross-over” to the other to have a decent chance of getting to the governor’s desk. WYPR’s state politics reporter Rachel Baye and news director Joel McCord discuss what will make it and what might not.

HISTORIC BRIDGE OVER PURPLE LINE: Part of a historic Maryland bridge that served as a lifeline to African Americans during segregation will be preserved on a recreational trail that will run along the future Purple Line, Montgomery County officials said Tuesday. Katherine Shaver of the Post reports that the Maryland Transit Administration has agreed to save the steel girders from the Talbot Avenue bridge, a 100-year-old span in the Lyttonsville area of Silver Spring, when it’s torn down to make way for the light-rail line.

FOE SAYS FROSH NOT FOCUSED ON MARYLAND: Craig Wolf, the Republican candidate for Maryland attorney general, said as attorney general he will focus on the needs of Marylanders, unlike his opponent. “He is not focused on the state, but is focused on Washington and that is a problem,” Wolf said. Wolf will face Brian Frosh, the incumbent Democrat, in the November general election. Both men are unopposed in the June primary election, Denae Spiering of the Easton Star Democrat reports. Wolf will be speaking in Easton on Saturday.

MOSBY FOE CITY RESIDENCY OKd: A Baltimore judge threw out an election lawsuit Tuesday against Thiru Vignarajah, clearing the way for the former deputy attorney general for Maryland to run for city state’s attorney, Tim Prudente reports for the Sun. Circuit Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill said he found ample evidence to believe Vignarajah has lived at least two years in a Federal Hill condo, and therefore qualifies for the ballot.

JUDGE NIXES OAKS’ ARGUMENTS: A federal judge in the political corruption case against state Sen. Nathaniel T. Oaks rejected defense motions Tuesday to dismiss six charges stemming from an alleged bribery scheme involving the lawmaker, finding arguments to toss them out “without merit,” William Zorzi reports for Maryland Matters.

PG COUNCIL REJECTS RAISE: The Prince George’s County Council on Tuesday unanimously rejected a $10,000 salary boost that had been proposed as a way to offset the likely loss of the lawmakers’ controversial car allowances, Rachel Chason of the Post reports. The bill rejecting the increase, which was co-sponsored by the council’s nine members, was a shift for county lawmakers, several of whom previously said the recommendation by the county’s Compensation Review Board would help bridge the pay gap between them and their counterparts in Montgomery County.

CARSON BLAMES WIFE: Ben Carson, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, told a House committee Tuesday that he left the decision over furnishing his office to his wife, and denied knowledge of a plan to purchase a $31,000 dining room set that has since become controversial, John Fritze of the Sun writes.

CHANGES AT THE SUN: The newsrooms in the Baltimore Sun Media Group are going through a company-wide reorganization that will integrate teams of reporters, photographers and social media personnel, according to a memo obtained by the Baltimore Fishbowl, Brandon Weigel writes. Among the biggest changes: Layout of the print edition will now take place in the Chicago offices of the Sun‘s parent company, tronc. A similar move was announced for another tronc paper, the New York Daily News, in February.