State Roundup, September 5, 2018

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WHO’s TO BLAME FOR LACK OF AC? As sweltering weather forced the closing of 10 Baltimore County schools Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan blamed local officials for the hot buildings while his Democratic challenger in this year’s election said the Republican governor should take responsibility, reports Michael Dresser for the Sun. The first day of classes became an occasion for political finger-pointing over the continued lack of air-conditioning at dozens of school buildings in the county and Baltimore city, where schools without adequate cooling systems closed three hours early.

SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY VS. FUNDING: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday renewed his call for accountability in Maryland’s local school systems, but Democratic challenger Ben Jealous said that what they really need is more funding, Michael Dresser reports in the Sun.

EV CHARGING STATIONS: A $104.7 million proposal by Maryland’s biggest utility companies to support a state network of charging stations will be the subject of a two-day hearing this week in Baltimore, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.

4 PARADE/CAMPAIGN TAKE-AWAYS: Parades are a command performance for office-seekers in an election year, and dozens of candidates for local, state and federal office dutifully turned out for the Labor Day festivities despite the high heat and humidity, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. DePuyt offers up four political take-aways from Monday’s parades.

TOP LOBBY FIRM ROCKED BY DEFECTIONS: Alexander & Cleaver, a leading Annapolis lobbying firm, has been stunned by significant high-profile defections, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. The full extent of the defections – and the reasons for them – could not be immediately determined Tuesday night. But the situation could turn acrimonious. Members of the confirmed that they learned earlier in the day, “without any prior notice or discussion, that some of our government relations employees may be leaving.”

ANIMAL ANTIBIOTICS: Representatives from more than a dozen public health and environmental organizations met in Annapolis Tuesday to deliver public comments urging Gov. Larry Hogan to revise and strengthen regulations on the routine use of antibiotics in animals, Harrison Cann of Capital News Service writes. The 2017 Keep Antibiotics Effective Act was enacted, without Hogan’s signature, to curb the use of “medically important” antibiotics on animals that aren’t sick, according to the legislation. The Maryland Department of Agriculture, however, opposed the bill and this year released draft regulations that some health advocates say don’t clearly define routine use.

EX-DEL. VAUGHN GETS 4 YEARS IN PRISON: Former Del. Michael L. Vaughn (D-Prince George’s) was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison for his role in a bribery conspiracy case involving the county liquor industry, writes Josh Kurtz in Maryland Matters. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis handed down the sentence, which included three years of supervised released for Vaughn following his prison term. A jury convicted Vaughn of conspiracy and four counts of bribery on March 1, following a two-week trial.

ARUNDEL COUNCIL VOTES DOWN ABORTION RESOLUTION: The Anne Arundel County Council voted down an abortion resolution that would have recognized the rights of “preborn” children after an hours long testimony from dozens of residents, Chase Cook reports in the Annapolis Capital. The council voted 4-3 after lengthy testimony against Tuesday night on the resolution. Republican and Democrats split the vote with Councilman John Grasso, R-Glen Burnie serving as the swing vote.

PARENTS PROTEST PROPOSED AMTRAK TUNNEL: A crowd gathered Tuesday morning outside the new Dorothy I. Height Elementary School building in West Baltimore to protest Amtrak’s plans to replace the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel with a new tunnel under the city with an exhaust shaft near the school, Hallie Miller of the Sun reports. The proposed $4.5 billion project would replace the 145-year-old B&P Tunnel, which acts as a bottleneck on the busy Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and MARC passenger trains due to its age and winding design.

WORTH OF ELLICOTT CITY BUILDINGS: Saying there is little doubt Ellicott City will suffer more devastating floods, just as it has twice in the past two years, Howard County officials want to buy and raze 10 buildings on lower Main Street as part of a five-year, $50 million plan to mitigate the problem, writes Meredith Cohn in the Sun. Legal experts say many factors contribute to arriving at a price — and not everyone is likely to agree, which could result in some of the purchases being fought in court.