State Roundup, May 6, 2015

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NEXT STEPS AFTER THE UNREST: Maryland’s top Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday announced a new group that will study public safety issues highlighted by the Freddie Gray case. The bipartisan, 20-member panel is charged with recommending laws the legislature should consider when it reconvenes, including changing the controversial Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights and creating a civilian review panel that could weigh in on hiring practices or police brutality cases.

  • Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch said Tuesday that the committee will review police training, recruiting and hiring practices, community policing policies and the state’s Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, which among other things gives officers 10 days to receive representation before cooperating with an investigation, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post.
  • U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Tuesday that the Justice Department will examine the best options to improve the Baltimore Police Department in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, and a full-scale civil rights investigation has not been ruled out. After meeting with elected leaders, clergy and activists at four locations in Baltimore, Lynch said the city has come to symbolize police and community mistrust — an issue that plagues many cities across America, report Alison Knezevich and Mark Puente for the Sun.

BUT NO SPECIAL SESSION: Erin Cox of the Sun writes that there appears to be no appetite in Annapolis for a special session of the legislature to address anything related to the Freddie Gray case.  “I don’t think there is anything for us to take a look at,” said Senate Majority Leader Catherine Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat. “There’s absolutely no need for a special session at this point.”

HOGAN SHUFFLES SCHEDULE: Gov. Larry Hogan, one of two scheduled keynote speakers at this year’s Montgomery County affordable housing summit, was a no-show Monday — with his office citing the governor’s continuing focus on the recent unrest in Baltimore for his absence, reports Louis Peck in Bethesda Magazine. But the conference’s other keynote speaker, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez — widely seen in Democratic circles as a potential challenger to Hogan in 2018 — did appear, and used the occasion to turn up the heat on the governor over the Purple Line.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan’s Change Maryland organization postponed a political event scheduled for Saturday, saying he needs to focus on rebuilding Baltimore. Change Maryland has acted as a political advocacy arm of the administration, maintaining an active Facebook page and sending email blasts to mobilize supporters. The organization scheduled an anniversary picnic to celebrate the period four years ago when Hogan launched it, Erin Cox of the Sun writes.

STRUGGLING FOR NEW POLICING POLICIES: Long before Freddie Gray’s death ignited unrest in Baltimore, high profile cases of police misconduct nationally failed to move Maryland lawmakers to pass meaningful reforms this year, according to, (Leaders for a Beautiful Struggle) a grassroots think tank that advocates a rewrite of the state’s policing policies. This exposed a wide disconnect between the Democrat-controlled legislature and communities under siege by strong-arm policing, writes Daniel Menefee for

PEREZ, DUNCAN TO VISIT BALTIMORE: Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Baltimore today to announce new federal funding for neglected communities, the latest effort by the Obama administration to engage with the city following last week’s riots. The appearance will come a day after a visit by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who on Tuesday met with city leaders, police and the family of Freddie Gray.

MEETING ON TOLLS THURSDAY: State transportation officials are expected to take up proposed reductions of tolls at a hastily scheduled public meeting Thursday morning, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Details of the proposal are being kept secret. An agenda posted online offers no details beyond a statement that the authority, headed by Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, will discuss and “approve”  a proposal to reduce toll rates and fees.

ED CHIEF CALLS FOR FULL FUNDING: Prince George’s schools chief Kevin Maxwell invoked the unrest in Baltimore as he made his pitch this week for full funding for education in school districts like Baltimore and Prince George’s County, where inequity persists based on the neighborhood where a child lives, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post.

SAVE THE CITIES: Former Gov. Martin O’Malley warned Tuesday that if the country does not step up investments in its cities, there could be more unrest like that in Baltimore last week. The Democrat, who is expected to announce a presidential bid later this month, told an audience in Redlands, Calif., that while he doesn’t condone the rioting and looting, “they do represent the sort of anger that we breed when we create an economy that acts like whole groups of people don’t matter and aren’t needed.”

MOSBY BASHED: Page Croyder, who spent 21 years in the Baltimore state’s attorneys office, writes in an op-ed in the Sun that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s “quick” and “decisive” action in charging six Baltimore police officers a mere two weeks after the death of Freddie Gray reflects either incompetence or an unethical recklessness. Alan Dershowitz, the noted defense attorney, sharply criticized her for using her charging power as “crowd control.” John Banzahf, a George Washington University law professor, predicted the eventual dismissal of most if not all the charges. The breadth of the charges, Mosby’s overreaching, is all-too-obvious.

MOSBY PRAISED: No question that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s quick decision to file criminal charges against the six police officers who arrested Freddie Gray, was the most effective path to tranquility after a week of protests and unrest in Baltimore, writes David Maril in his column for But, not every Baltimore leader acquitted themselves so well. Maril rates their effectiveness.

BALTIMORE BUSINESS RECOVERY: Businesses in Baltimore City will have an extra two weeks on the state’s sales tax deadline. Comptroller Peter Franchot granted the extension in the wake of civil unrest and a state of emergency that was declared in the city following the death of Freddie Gray, Bryan Sears writes in the Daily Record.

  • Baltimore Development Corp. is trying to help more than 200 businesses affected by last week’s unrest in Baltimore, writes Adam Bednar for the Daily Record. The initiative sets up each of those businesses with a case worker to help shepherd it through the recovery process. William Cole, of the Baltimore Development Corp., said as of Monday afternoon they’ve established a list of about 235 impacted businesses, and that list could still grow. “So, it’s really anything you can think of to help businesses get back open without sending them to five or six entities. We’re going to manage that process for them to make it as seamless as possible,” Cole said.

CHRONICLING THE PROTESTS, UNREST: The Maryland Historical Society has issued a call for photos and videos of the protests and riots in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death, according to Baltimore Brew.

DESCHENAUX RESPONDS: Warren Deschenaux, the state’s chief fiscal analyst, responds to the April 30th article by Charlie Hayward that examined the state’s finances. He writes, “In his article, Mr. Haywood quite properly indicates weaknesses of Maryland’s balance sheet. Unfortunately, his article tends to both overstate their import and misattribute their origins to the Legislative Branch of government.”

NEW GAMING CHIEF NAMED: Jeff Barker of the Sun reports that Gov. Hogan named former New York State Lottery chief Gordon Medenica to head the Maryland agency overseeing the state’s casinos and lottery system. Medenica, whose appointment as director of the state Lottery and Gaming Control Agency requires state Senate confirmation, will succeed Stephen Martino, who resigned in March.

LEGGETT REBOOTS TRANSIT AUTHORITY: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is rebooting his proposal for a new independent transit authority, three months after a wave of opposition forced him to withdraw the measure. This time, Leggett hopes to build support by reconvening a county task force that originally recommended the idea three years ago, Bill Turque of the Post reports.

DELANEY HEARS FROM COMMUTERS: U.S. Rep. John Delaney heard commuter stories from constituents that he anticipates will add immediacy to his appeals for his transportation funding bill in Washington, writes Kelsi Loos in the Frederick News Post. Delaney on Tuesday met with about a dozen residents from Frederick, Montgomery and Washington counties. He said this was the first meeting that was focused solely on constituents’ stories, which provide good real-life reasons to advocate for transportation improvements.

EDWARDS DENOUNCES ANTI-VAN HOLLEN FLIER: U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards has denounced a flier that was distributed at a public meeting in Prince George’s County on Monday and attacks U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, her rival in the 2016 U.S. Senate race. The flier calls Israel an “apartheid” state and accuses Van Hollen and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin of supporting U.S. aid to Israel at the expense of funding for Maryland roads, schools and other infrastructure, reports Rachel Weiner for the Post.