State Roundup, May 29, 2018

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RESPONSE TO FLOODING: Gov. Larry Hogan issued a state of emergency on Sunday after heavy rainfall led to massive flooding in Ellicott City, Baltimore and many other areas of the state, Joanna Sullivan of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

  • Residents, merchants and officials in Ellicott City on Monday began to examine the devastation wrought by floods that coursed through the historic mill town the night before — the second time in less than two years, Pamela Wood and Kevin Rector of the Sun report. “It’s devastating for all of us,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. Kittleman acknowledged that residents and business owners have tough decisions to make whether to rebuild on Main Street or move on. Kittleman said the county would support businesses, no matter whether they decide to stay or go.

POLITICAL ADS ON FB TO BE REGULATED: Maryland will begin to regulate political ads on Facebook and other social media sites beginning July 1 after Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday allowed a bill to become law despite his reservations that the measure could be found unconstitutional, reports Erin Cox for the Sun.

HOGAN NIXES 3 ED BILLS: Reaction to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto Thursday of three education-related bills passed this year by the Maryland General Assembly was strong and swift, though it remains unclear how many people were actually paying any attention, William Zorzi reports in Maryland Matters.

FRANCHOT SMACKDOWN BILL VETOED: A pension board bill opposed by the state’s comptroller has been vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Hogan Friday announced the veto of Senate Bill 178, which would have prevented the state comptroller from serving as chair of the State Retirement and Pension system board of trustees. In his letter, Hogan criticized the bill as politically motivated.

HOGAN VETOES CONVICTION CHALLENGE BILL: Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday vetoed legislation that would have enabled convicts to challenge their convictions for up to three years after they discover or should have known their guilty verdicts would have collateral consequences, such as an enhanced sentence for a subsequent offense or deportation, Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes.

STEEL TARIFFS COULD HARM LOCAL FIRM: Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports that Independent Can Company declares on its website “Proudly made in the USA!” The Belcamp can manufacturer employs hundreds of people in Maryland and prides itself on having brought manufacturing dollars back from China over the past decade. But without an exclusion from steel tariffs proposed by President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year, much of that progress could be reversed. Hundreds of jobs could be lost.

TOUR RX POT GROWER: Maryland has licensed 15 companies to grow medical marijuana since the General Assembly legalized it more than four years ago. Dominique Maria Bonessi of WYPR-FM takes listeners inside one of those companies’ growing facilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

CYBER VULNERABILITY: A major cyberattack on Atlanta in March shut down city computers for five days, exposing critical vulnerabilities in the government system. Days later, Baltimore was hit with a separate ransomware attack that required 911 dispatchers to manually dispatch calls. Odenton-based SecuLore Solutions, a cybersecurity firm that serves the public safety industry, has been tracking attacks on local governments across the country, Meg Tully reports in the Daily Record. The number of attacks on its rolling 24-month tracker keeps rising by about 10% a month, said SecuLore President & CEO Tim Lorello

NEW ‘SECURE’ MEDICARE CARDS: Lorraine Mirabella of the Sun reports that Medicare recipients in Maryland should be receiving new Medicare cards designed to increase security and help prevent fraud, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said. The new cards no longer contain Social Security numbers. Instead, they include randomly assigned Medicare numbers. The changes are designed to protect Medicare patients from fraud and make it harder for criminals to bill for services and benefits that were never performed.

DEMS IN GOV RACE TARGET EDUCATION: The Democratic candidates for governor are gambling on education this year, making it their top priority and promoting ideas that just four years ago might have seemed left wing, Liz Bowie of the Sun writes. They would spend billions more each year on public schools, offer more support services in high poverty schools, provide pre-kindergarten for all children and make at least the first two years of college free.

HOGAN’s AD BLITZ: Gov. Larry Hogan released the first television advertisement of his reelection campaign Monday, part of a $1.3 million advertising blitz ahead of the gubernatorial primary that is costing substantially more than some of his leading Democratic opponents have in the bank, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

LACKLUSTER DEMS IN GOV RACE: In an analysis for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz writes that here we are in what’s supposed to be one of the most Democratic states in the country, in an election cycle that could be wildly favorable for Democrats. Yet the Democratic primary to take on Maryland’s Republican governor is generating little light and even less heat – even though skirmishing among the candidates began in earnest after last week’s TV forum and will only intensify in the days ahead.

MANNING ‘SAFE’ AFTER CONCERNIGN TWEET: A poster to Chelsea Manning’s Twitter account said that the Senate candidate from Maryland was “safe” after a pair of tweets Sunday raised concerns among her followers. The tweets, since deleted, have been described by several news organizations, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.

McDONOUGH WANTS ENGLISH AS OFFICIAL COUNTY LANGUAGE: Del. Pat McDonough is pledging to make English the official language of Baltimore County government in his bid for county executive, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports. The longtime Republican lawmaker has previously advocated the idea of making English the state’s official language. Now he is pushing the idea locally in the GOP primary campaign for county executive. He recently issued a news release saying he would use an executive order or an ordinance to accomplish his goal.

BA CO BILL TAKES AIM AT KIDS & GUNS: The Baltimore County Council will meet today to consider a bill aimed at preventing teenagers from being able to access guns. The proposal introduced by Councilwoman Vicki Almond would make it a misdemeanor to leave a loaded firearm in a place where an unsupervised child younger than 18 could have access to it, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

EDWARDS LATE WITH FINANCE REPORT: Prince George’s County executive candidate Donna F. Edwards was three days late in filing her campaign finance report as of Friday evening, prompting criticism from the campaign of her leading rival, Rachel Chason of the Post reports. Joy Russell, a campaign spokeswoman for Prince George’s State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, said it was “concerning” that Edwards was not “able to do something as basic as file a campaign finance report on time.”

UNIONS BACK PG COUNCIL MEMBERS: Two Prince George’s County Democrats — council members Mel Franklin and Karen R. Toles — have won the backing of five local public safety unions in their bids to fill two new at-large council seats, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

CLERK INCUMBENT CRITICIZES FOE’s ‘ENDORSEMENTS:’ In Alan Bowser’s run for Montgomery County Clerk of the Court, he touts his platform of transparency and accountability, but incumbent clerk Barbara Meiklejohn says her opponent is being dishonest about the endorsements he claims, Glynis Kazanjian of MarylandReporter writes. Alan Bowser has some endorsements, but he puts people down that don’t really endorse him,” Meiklejohn said of Bowser’s campaign website. “Some will say, ‘Sure Alan, I’ll support you in your bid for election,’ but they don’t endorse him, which is entirely different from supporting him. . . He is being dishonest.”

CARROLL PLANS FOR ‘BOOZE FARM’ TOURISM: Jennifer Turiano of the Carroll County Times reports that the county’s zoning code now includes a roadmap to aid farm alcohol producers, including breweries, wineries and distilleries. Starting 45 days after the Board of County Commissioners approved the changes — sometime in mid-June — the zoning code will for the first time give farm alcohol producers a designation for exactly what they do. It will also make clear what Carroll County requires the farms to produce alcohol, sell it, and offer agritourism services.