State Roundup, September 16, 2016

STATE PANEL OKS BA CO SCHOOL AC PLAN: Plans by Baltimore County to speed the installation of air conditioning at public schools got a boost from a key state panel on Thursday. Pamela Wood and Erin Cox of the Sun write that the state’s Interagency Commission on School Construction voted unanimously to award a waiver to the county that will keep the plan on track. “We are pleased they have the confidence in our plan,” County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Thursday. “We can start the planning process now.”

  • John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that 37 public schools in Baltimore County currently do not have air conditioning, although the county is proceeding with a $1.3 billion comprehensive plan to refurbish many of its schools. The commission’s approval of the waiver Thursday will allow Baltimore County to begin seeking bids for renovating schools instead of waiting for the projects to be approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works this winter.

SCHOOL FUNDING PROCESS COULD CHANGE: Proposals to change how the state funds and oversees school construction projects could include changes to the role of a powerful three-member panel led by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Members of the 21st Century Schools Commission Thursday heard testimony on how the process of school construction funding differs from other states, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. Highlighted within the testimony was the unique nature of the Board of Public Works, which some Democratic lawmakers have been critical of under the leadership of Hogan.

DRUG TAKE-BACK PROGRAM IN CARROLL: Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) on Friday announced a new “drug take-back” program in Charles County that the state will use to help combat its heroin and opioid epidemic in one of the hardest-hit jurisdictions, Josh Hicks reports for the Post. The goal is to prevent unneeded prescription drugs from reaching addicts by allowing residents to dispose of the drugs in safe receptacles at six independent pharmacies in the county.

RX POT ADVOCATE GET BOOST IN CARROLL: Heather Norris of the Carroll County Times reports that the Carroll County Board of Commissioners granted a small victory to medical cannabis advocates Thursday, moving to adjust proposed zoning regulations to allow growing, processing and dispensing as principal permitted uses in industrial zones. The board had been wrestling with how to deal with the growing, processing and dispensing of cannabis for medical use for more than a year.

JUSTICE REFORMS: The Justice Reinvestment Act, a criminal-justice reform bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly this year, is so big that most of its provisions won’t be effective for another year. The woman coordinating implementation of the new law — aimed at reducing the number of offenders who commit new crimes while increasing treatment for those who need it — said that even though the law in many cases reduces penalties for minor crimes, it is not soft on crime, Tamela Baker reports for the Hagerstown Herald Mail.

FREDERICK LAWMAKERS CRITICAL OF SCHOOL START EDICT: Democratic lawmakers representing Frederick County on Thursday criticized Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to delay the start of public school until after Labor Day, though only one decisively pledged to back legislation to override the mandate, writes Jeremy Bauer-Wolf for the Frederick News Post. Hogan’s executive order pushing the start of school past Labor Day across the state, and forcing districts to wrap up by June 15, has aggravated local school leaders, the teachers union and Democratic leadership of the General Assembly.

VANITY PLATE CENSORSHIP: The Maryland Court of Appeals is considering whether the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration acted unconstitutionally in recalling vanity license plates sporting a Spanish scatological word. CNS’s Sam Reilly writes in that in 2009, John T. Mitchell of Accokeek requested and received vanity license plates from the Maryland MVA that read “MIERDA,” a Spanish term that translates to “s**t” or “junk.”


Government House, the governor’s mansion, was lit up in red last night for World Lymphoma Awareness Day. Governor’s Office Photo.

END NEARS FOR HOGAN CHEMO: Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he is nearing the end of his cancer treatment. “I’m feeling great, and I’ve been cancer free for nearly a year,” Hogan told reporters at a blood drive for the Red Cross held outside the governor’s mansion in Annapolis, Erin Cox of the Sun writes.

EX-SEN. JACOBS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER: Former state Sen. Nancy Jacobs has been diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she announced Thursday evening. Ethan Mcleod of WBFF-TV reports that Jacobs, who represented Harford and Cecil counties in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1995 to 1999 before she serving in the state Senate for 16 years, said that her cancer is the same form that Gov. Larry Hogan was diagnosed with last June, though not as extensive.

***Assessment Administrators: Seeking motivated individuals to proctor assessment sessions with 4th- and 8th-grade students in schools for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Must be available to work January 30 –March 10, 2017. Paid training, paid time and mileage reimbursement for local driving, and weekly paychecks. This is a part-time, temporary position. To apply, visit our website at and select “Search Field Positions.” Search for your state, find the NAEP Assessment Administrator position, and select the “apply to job” button. For more information email or call 1-888-237-8036. WESTAT EOE***

HOGAN EYES CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATIONS IN PG: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Thursday that he is “paying close attention” to the child abuse allegations in Prince George’s County schools, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports. In response to a question about the allegations from reporters, Hogan said his office reached out to County Executive Rushern Baker III (D) on Wednesday but has yet to hear back.

Carly Fiorina and Sen. Michael Hough

Carly Fiorina and Sen. Michael Hough

FIORINA AIDS HOUGH COFFERS: Among the items in Danielle Gaines’ Political Notes column for the Frederick News Post is this: Frederick’s Church Street parking garage was full Thursday afternoon, and it may have been due to a fundraiser by state Sen. Michael Hough, R-District 4. Carly Fiorina — the erstwhile Republican presidential candidate, then VP pick of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas — was special guest at the event. It was Hough’s largest fundraiser to date, bringing in about $40,000.

EHRLICH BACKS McDONOUGH: Former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich endorsed the GOP nominee in Del. Pat McDonough for the House in Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District and will call on supporters to donate to his campaign in a note expected to reach supporters on Friday. McDonough is running against incumbent Democrat Rep.  Dutch Ruppersberger for the seat. McDonough won the nomination with more than 71% of the vote in a five-way race earlier this year, John Fritze of the Sun writes.

TRUMP SUPPORT IN LIBERAL MO CO: On a recent evening in Montgomery County, an enthusiastic cross-section of the Trump coalition came together — largely white, north of 40, and voicing a mix of disillusion, anxiety and anger over the direction of the country, Bill Turque writes. Republicans in Montgomery are largely outnumbered by Democrats as well as independents.

PUBLIC INFORMATION SURVEY: A Sun editorial urges people who have used the Public Information Act to respond to the attorney general’s survey for those who have used the PIA, especially reporters. They recommend you read the instructions first., because the 15-minute survey must be completed in one sitting. Here’s a link to the survey.

POP-UP ADS: Is there someone at the Sun trying to find ways to make their pop-ads the most annoying of the legacy newspapers we monitor, even for subscribers like We’d go out and get one of those ad-blocking applications if we didn’t run advertising ourselves.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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