State Roundup, June 5, 2017

BUSCH IMPROVING: Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch was alert and talking Friday after a liver transplant the day before, aides said. “His doctors believe his donated liver appears to be functioning well,” Busch’s chief of staff Alexandra Hughes wrote in a Facebook post. “He is awake, alert and talking and breathing on his own.” Erin Cox reports the story for the Sun. The story is topped by a video discussion among Annapolis Capital editor Rick Hutzell and reporters Amanda Yeager and Chase Cook, who give an update Busch’s liver transplant, expected recovery time  and the impact on Maryland politics.

WHO WOULD FILL BUSCH’s SHOES? The health issues resulting in a liver transplant for Speaker Michael Busch have opened up conversations about who might lead the Maryland House of Delegates. Interviews with more than a dozen members of the House, lobbyists and longtime State House observers find that two leading candidates have emerged: Dels. Maggie McIntosh and Dereck Davis. Bryan Sears reports the story for the Daily Record.

NEXT STEPS FOR RX POT: Maryland’s highest court on Friday intervened in a lawsuit that threatened to upend the state’s long-awaited medical marijuana program, but whether the state can move forward remains in question, Fenit Nirappil reports in the Post.

GERRYMANDERED REALITY: John Fritze of the Sun writes that when state Democrats unveiled their proposed congressional districts in 2011, one of the central justifications for the squirrely lines in Western Maryland was a need to “maintain” the Interstate 270 corridor. But depositions and emails released Wednesday in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the boundaries have raised questions about the argument, and about the commitment officials had to maintaining cohesion in the corridor.

  • In bringing up the p-word, Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland who quotes extensively from the Sun and writes that, “Lost in the kerfuffle about the depositions regarding the lawsuit against Maryland’s Congressional Redistricting were comments that were made by Senate President Mike Miller, in his deposition. He  “repeatedly denied that politics influenced how the lines were drawn. Asked if he personally wanted to maximize the Democratic advantage in the districts, Miller flatly stated ‘no.’”

HOGAN IN FRANCE, ENGLAND: Gov. Larry Hogan will travel to France and England later this month to encourage new investments in the aerospace and cybersecurity industries, reports Ovetta Wiggins for the Post. The European trip comes on the heels of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the historic Paris climate accord and continued criticism from state Democrats over Hogan’s response to Trump’s actions on health care, immigration and, most recently, the environment.

END OF WAR ON RURAL MARYLAND? JF Meils of Capital News Service writes that two years after Gov. Larry Hogan took office, and after recently declaring that the “war on rural Maryland is over,” the state still struggles to provide what those areas say they need the most: more infrastructure and less regulation.

COLLEGE, BPW STRIKE DEAL ON ROSEWOOD: On Wednesday, Maryland’s Board of Public Works is scheduled to vote on transferring 117 acres of the old Rosewood State Hospital property to Stevenson University. It marks a fitting conclusion at Stevenson to the transformative presidency of Kevin Manning, opines Barry Rascovar for MarylandReporter.

SECRET MANSION, CONFLICT REMAIN: Scott Dance of the Sun reports that 2 1/2 years ago, it seemed as if the long saga of the secret mansion built in the middle of the Magothy River had finally come to a conclusion. A local developer had built the compound on Little Dobbins Island in Anne Arundel County without submitting plans for government review or approval. Environmentalists objected, warning of its impact on the Chesapeake Bay. The state’s highest court upheld a decision to have much of it  torn down.  Today, the estate still stands — and so does the broader conflict.

TRUMP, PARIS & MARYLAND: Tim Curtis of the Daily Record reports that President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement fulfilled one of his campaign promises to tilt federal energy policy in favor of fossil fuels like coal, but it’s unlikely to have a significant effect on Maryland, energy executives and government officials say.

  • In a news analysis for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz  writes that on the day Trump announced his decree on Paris, Hogan’s press office issued two news releases – both dealing with the lawsuit to overturn Democrats’ gerrymandering of congressional districts in Maryland. Hogan has been silent so far on Trump’s decision to isolate the U.S. on climate and pull out of the Paris accord. But then a spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment addressed the issue. Is it enough?

DEPORTATION FEAR & CRIME: The editorial board of the Post highlights a Baltimore Sun article about a lawyer and an interpreter who used fear of deportation in an attempt to influence a crime victim who is an illegal alien not to testify against the lawyer’s client. “If voluntary contact with law enforcement puts undocumented immigrants at risk of exposing their legal status, many or most will choose to avoid such interaction. The result is creeping lawlessness,” the editorial board concludes.

HOGAN FUNDRAISING LETTER: In a column for Seventh State, Adam Pagnucco writes that Gov. Larry Hogan is now sending out fundraising letters for his re-election campaign.  Much of the language is consistent with what we have heard from the governor before and would be standard for many Republican candidates.  But the solicitation ends with a fear-mongering assault on immigration that is perfectly consistent with the GOP in the Era of Trump, Pagnucco asserts.

GRIFFITH SEEKS CURRIE’s SEAT: Former Prince George’s County Del. Melony Griffith, whose 16-year political career ended in 2014 after she lost a Democratic primary challenge to state Sen. Ulysses Currie, is formally launching another bid for the Senate seat on Monday night – her 54th birthday. This time, with Currie certain to retire, Griffith starts the campaign as the early favorite, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

McMILLAN IN DEAD HEAT WITH GEORGE: As Maryland Republicans sketch out their strategy for capturing five Democratic-held state Senate districts in 2018, the seat now occupied by Annapolis area Sen. John Astle (D) looms large in their plans. Former Del. Ron George has been running for the seat for two years, and appears to be the choice of much of the GOP establishment. But Del. Herb McMillan has not ruled out a run for the seat – and a new poll commissioned by his campaign shows he would be very competitive with George in a hypothetical GOP primary, Maryland Matters’ Josh Kurtz reports.

PRIMARY CHALLENGE FOR BROWN: A U.S. Naval officer will soon announce that she is entering the Democratic primary in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, becoming the first Democrat to take on incumbent Anthony Brown in the 2018 congressional midterm elections, Ryan Miner writes in his Miner Detail blog.

TRUMP SIGNS POLICE BILLS: President Trump signed legislation Friday to prioritize the hiring of veterans as police officers, as well as a second measure to speed benefit claims for survivors of officers killed in the line of duty, writes John Fritze in the Sun. The signing, which took place in the Diplomatic Reception Room, was attended by several Maryland law enforcement officials, including representatives from Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties as well as Baltimore City.

TRUMP KILLS BAY FUNDS: Pamela D’Angelo of WYPR-FM writes that in 2009, President Obama signed an executive order recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure. That began a federal-state partnership to restore and protect it. But the budget President Trump sent to Congress eliminates funding for that plan. And that has complicated even further an already complicated effort to restore the oyster reefs gutted by a century of overfishing, disease and pollution.

REPLACING ACA: Congressional Republicans return to work today after the Memorial Day recess facing enormous pressure to make progress on replacing the Affordable Care Act — a years-long Trump campaign promise — but also fissures within the party about how to do so. A leading cause of the internal strife is how to handle proposed cuts to Medicaid, including among Maryland lawmakers, write John Fritze and Meredith Cohn for the Sun.

CLINTON TO SPEAK IN BALTIMORE: A program created nearly two decades ago by U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the longtime Democratic congressman from Baltimore, will receive national attention today when former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraiser for the group in Fells Point, writes John Fritze of the Sun.

BA CO TO VOTE ON IMMIGRATION BILL: Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that the Baltimore County Council is scheduled to vote tonight on whether to require the county jail in Towson to join a federal immigration screening program. The bill, co-sponsored by the council’s three Republican members, is likely to fail, as all four Democrats on the seven-member council have publicly raised concerns with the bill. If it did pass, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has promised to veto it — and five votes would be needed to override that veto.

TESTING PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING: Phil Andrews, who was the lead sponsor of Montgomery County’s public financing law, writes in a column for the Sun that, “On the border of the world’s largest swamp of special interest money, Maryland’s first local election with publicly funded candidates is underway in Montgomery County.”

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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