State Roundup, July 26, 2018

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COURT UPHOLDS FROSH’s TRUMP CLAIM: A federal judge denied a second request by lawyers for President Donald Trump on Wednesday to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Maryland’s attorney general alleging that Trump has violated the constitutional prohibition on gaining financially from his position by doing business with foreign governments, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports. U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte rejected challenges from the president’s attorneys that Attorney General Brian E. Frosh had failed to state an adequate legal claim.

APPEALS COURT DENIES FROSH REHEARING: A federal appeals court has dealt another setback to a Maryland law aimed at limiting price spikes for generic drugs, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied the request of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh for a re-hearing of a challenge to the law before the full court. A three-judge panel from the 4th Circuit ruled in April that the law, approved by state lawmakers in 2017, was unconstitutional. The law gave the attorney general the authority to review price information about generic drugs.

BAY REFUGE MAY BE CLOSED TO VISITORS: A national wildlife refuge that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year to the Chesapeake Bay may be forced to close to the public soon. Jeremy Cox of the Bay Journal writes in MarylandReporter that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering shuttering the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge because it lacks the funding to hire a new refuge manager, said Marcia Pradines, project leader at the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a branch of the service that oversees the Chesapeake region’s national refuges.

PESTICIDE USE ON RX POT: Medical cannabis growers in Maryland could use pesticides on their plants from a state-approved list under new permanent regulations proposed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The rules, should they go into effect later this year, would loosen an absolute ban on the use of pesticides. But the change is not without controversy, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

RGA HITS JEALOUS AGAIN: The Republican Governors Association has just hit Maryland airwaves with its second ad of the gubernatorial campaign, an attack on the health care proposals put forward by Democrat Ben Jealous. The spots, and one produced by incumbent Larry Hogan (R), are part of an effort to create an early, negative impression of Jealous in the public eye, and to slow his fundraising, according to observers of the contest, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

HOGAN IMMUNE FROM DEM BACKLASH: Republicans are in serious danger of losing control of the House of Representatives. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to win control of the chamber, and a poll released Wednesday on the “generic ballot” for Congress showed Democrats with a 12-point advantage. While it seems less likely, Democrats haven’t abandoned the dream of taking control of the U.S. Senate this November as well. But Republican governors – including Maryland’s own Larry Hogan – seem immune from the national GOP chaos, Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes.

HOGAN ANOTHER CHRISTIE? What would a second term under Gov. Larry Hogan look like? Honestly, it’s hard to say, opines Larry Ottinger, board chair of Our Maryland, an online hub for social justice and a sustainable future, in an op-ed for the Sun. He’s been coy when it comes to disclosing details. With our governor high on political rhetoric and low on substance, we can look to our unfortunate neighbors in New Jersey to find out what we can expect. Ottinger goes on to dissect the two terms of Gov. Chris Christie, and makes some inaccurate claims about Hogan on education funding.

INDEPENDENT FOE FOR CARDIN: Neal Simon, chief executive officer of a Rockville-based asset management firm, has filed more than 12,000 signatures to get on the November ballot as an “unaffiliated”—independent—candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Ben Cardin, Louis Peck writes in Bethesda Beat

LOST TO PROVISIONAL BALLOTS? In a column for the Sun, editorial writer Andrew Green writes about the MVA’s voter registration screw up and the use of provisional ballots to attempt to fix it. Anecdotal evidence suggests people don’t like that fix. He writes that candidates who lose close races often wonder if there was something more they could have done to get those last few votes. “Here, I’m thinking of Sen. Jim Brochin, the Democrat who was 17 votes behind former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. in the primary for Baltimore County executive. Having watched Mr. Brochin campaign since his first Senate race in 2002, I’m pretty sure he’s not wishing he had worked harder. Anyone who’s run against him will attest that’s simply not possible. But could something completely out of his control have made the difference, specifically the MVA registration mixup?”

PROGRESSIVES VS ESTABLISHMENT DEMS: It wasn’t your typical Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee meeting, writes Rachel Chason for the Post. The crowd alternated between loud booing and cheering. The contest Tuesday night between Cheryl Landis, who chaired the committee from 2014 to 2016, and Theresa Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association, in some ways represented tensions playing out statewide as progressives and more moderate Democrats vie for power in the party.

FARMERS MAY GET AID: Frederick County farmers may be eligible for compensation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for damage to their crops this past spring, Samantha Hogan of the Frederick News-Post reports. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue accepted Gov. Larry Hogan’s request for federal relief after heavy rain between May 12 and 23 flooded parts of Frederick County and destroyed crops. Frederick, Dorchester, Somerset and Wicomico counties were all given primary disaster designations.

FICKER SIGNS FLOREEN PETITION: County Council member Nancy Floreen will have to gather more than 7,200 signatures to get her name onto the November ballot as an independent candidate for county executive. In an odd twist, one of the signatures in her collection belongs to her potential opponent, Robin Ficker, the Republican nominee for the post, Bethany Rodgers and Louis Peck report for Bethesda Beat.

ACLU SUES HARFORD SHERIFF: The ACLU of Maryland has filed a lawsuit seeking the release of records and policies detailing the Harford County sheriff’s involvement in a federal immigration enforcement program, Ian Duncan of the Sun reports. The sheriff’s office is a participant in a program that drafts local law enforcement agencies to review the immigration status of people when they’re booked into jail and flag people for federal immigration agents.

COMMISSIONER’s WIFE CLAIMS ABUSE: A temporary protective order related to domestic violence has been issued against Washington County Board of Commissioners President Terry Baker, CJ Lovelace of the Hagerstown Herald Mail. In a court filing, Baker’s wife, Katrina, accuses the third-term commissioner of slapping, shoving, stalking and verbally abusing her over two separate incidents at the couple’s homes in July.

ETHICS COMPLAINTS DISMISSED: In a 2-1 decision, the Charles County Board of Ethics found that two complaints alleging that Board of Charles County Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) used county resources to schedule town hall meetings that were intended to benefit his re-election campaign lacked sufficient evidence of an ethics violation, Paul Lagasse reports in the Maryland Independent. (Murphy lost his re-election bid.)

ROSENSTEIN IMPEACHMENT: A group of 11 House conservatives on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The AP’s Mary Clare Jalonick writes that the move comes after months of criticism aimed at the department — and the Russia investigation in particular — from Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. Trump has fumed about Mueller’s probe and repeatedly called it a “witch hunt,” a refrain echoed by some of the lawmakers. Rosenstein served as United States Attorney for the District of Maryland for 12 years.