GROUND BROKEN FOR PURPLE LINE: It was not a cold day in hell, but a cool morning in August that found Maryland’s usually scornful Democrats heaping praise on Republican Larry Hogan, including a current and a past election opponent of the governor, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter. The Democratic elected officials even showered praise on a Trump administration cabinet secretary — without anyone mentioning the president’s name. Prompting the praise was the groundbreaking and federal funding of the Purple Line, Maryland’s largest mass transit project in decades.
- On the national level, Republicans have generally been hostile to new transit lines with big price tags – for fiscal, philosophical and political reasons. So it was something close to miraculous to see Gov. Larry Hogan, who worked for the Ehrlich administration and expressed skepticism about the project on the campaign trail, and Elaine Chao, President Trump’s Transportation secretary, front and center at the groundbreaking for the Purple Line in Landover Hills on Monday, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.
- The $2 billion, 16-mile light rail project is the largest public-private infrastructure project in the nation, state and federal transportation officials said. When complete, the 21-stop rail line will carry an estimated 41,000 passengers a day and generate more than 50,000 new jobs, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.
- “I feel so good,” Ben Ross, a transit advocate and former president of the Action Committee for Transit, said. Ross said he’s been advocating for the light-rail project for 28 years, Andrew Metcalf of Bethesda Beat reports. He was joined in the toast by Barbara and Greg Sanders, longtime advocates with Purple Line Now, and the wife and son of the late Harry Sanders. Harry Sanders, who died in 2011, is often referred to as the godfather of the Purple Line project.
3 MORE RX POT LICENSES OK’d: Despite missing a key state deadline earlier this month, three more medical marijuana growers won final licenses on Monday to cultivate the drug, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted to grant approval for three of the five companies that had missed the deadline to be operational by Aug. 15. The other two firms were granted formal extensions.
- Other businesses that applied for licenses but were denied, and state lawmakers allied with them, are monitoring the final-approval process closely, hoping that companies that missed the deadline will be rejected and that their own companies will get another chance to break into the potentially lucrative legal marijuana industry, Fenit Nirappil writes for the Post.
- Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that Maryland could double the number of licenses available to medical cannabis processors before the first plants are even available under a proposal being considered Medical Cannabis Commission.
- The commission’s process has been full of delays and controversy, leading Gov. Larry Hogan to overhaul the commission in July. The commission has received criticism from legislators and minority-owned applicants because of a lack of diversity among the licensees, writes Holden Wilen in the Baltimore Business Journal.
- Grow West LLC, owned by the Valois family of Frederick County, received conditional approval Monday to move forward with its medical cannabis growing facility in Grantsville, the Cumberland Times News reports.
COUNTY PUBLIC FINANCING LEGAL: An attorney from the Maryland attorney general’s office says it would be legal for the state to allow public financing for candidates on a county-by-county basis, clearing the way for the drafting of such a bill in the 2018 legislative session, reports Rachel Siegel for the Post. Del. Marc A. Korman (D-Montgomery) contacted the attorney general’s office in May for guidance on whether a localized approach to public financing — as opposed to a statewide option — would hit constitutional roadblocks.
HOGAN TO MEET ON B’MORE VIOLENCE: Gov. Larry Hogan will hold a meeting today with criminal justice leaders about what he calls the “tragic and disturbing” homicide rate in Baltimore, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun. Earlier this month, Hogan called for a meeting with city officials who work in criminal justice — including judges, prosecutors and politicians — to have a “frank and honest discussion” about what can be done to address the violence. But judges who preside over criminal cases in Baltimore say they won’t be in attendance.
MILLER SAYS HE DID NOT MEAN TO DIVIDE: Senate President Mike Miller, under fire for opposing the removal of a statue of former Supreme Court chief justice Roger B. Taney from the State House grounds, said Monday that he did not intend to cause division by defending the author of the Dred Scott decision. Miller’s comments came shortly after a dozen African American ministers and community activists staged a protest against him in a section of Prince George’s County that is part of the district Miller has represented for more than 40 years, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.
UM MARCHING BAND STOPS PLAYING STATE SONG: The Sun’s Pamela Wood reports that the University of Maryland marching band said Monday it would drop its longtime practice of playing the state song before football games. “Maryland, My Maryland” — set to the tune of the Christmas carol “O Tannenbaum” — is the latest pro-Confederacy expression to come under fire in Maryland in the wake of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., this month. The song includes nine verses that served as a bloody call to action against President Abraham Lincoln and the “northern scum.”
- The university’s Memorial Chapel bell used to toll “Maryland, My Maryland,” before it was changed to the alma mater in 1999, reports Christine Condon for the Diamondback. Sophomore marching band member Ben Parrish said he agreed with the decision to stop playing the song. “I can’t come up with a single reason for why the band should continue to play a song whose history is aligned with secession.”
RED MARYLAND ATTACKS RASCOVAR: Red Maryland’s Greg Kline and Brian Griffiths attack commentator Barry Rascovar for calling out as fake news their petition drive against a made-up movement to change the Maryland flag. Their response appears in MarylandReporter, which also ran the Rascover column yesterday.
ANNAPOLIS RALLY HONORS MLK FOOT SOLDIERS: Statues and monuments across the country have, in recent weeks, come under national fire for their role in commemorating the Confederacy and racial injustice. But, writes Danielle Ohl for the Annapolis Capital, at a two-hour rally in Annapolis on Monday night, demonstrators from the region gathered to celebrate a different kind of monument, one commemorating the local foot soldiers who boarded a bus traveling to the March on Washington where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963.
DEL. BEIDLE TO RUN FOR SENATE: Del. Pam Beidle made it official Monday, filing to run for state Senate in Anne Arundel County’s District 32. The Linthicum Democrat, who served on the County Council from 1998 until she was elected to the House in 2006, filed to run for the seat Monday along with three other members of a slate for the district, Jimmy DeButts reports in the Annapolis Capital. She hopes to win the spot held by state Sen. James “Ed” DeGrange, who announced Friday he will retire when his term ends next year.
CANDIDATE ROSS TARGETS DEM PROBLEMS: In a podcast interview with Ryan Miner of A Miner Detail, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross wasn’t shy about taking on the failures of the Democratic Party. “I think you have to be honest and find fault with Democrats … The idea that you go to college – you’re a winner; you don’t go to college – you’re a loser is something that I believe has dominated Democratic education policy for the last 20 years. And I think it’s part of why the old base of the Democratic Party – the sort of blue collar folks … overwhelmingly left the party,” Ross said.
POLITICAL CARTOONIST INSPIRED FROSH: Attorney General Brian Frosh has spent nearly three decades in public office, but his earliest inspiration came from a “quirky” place. “My parents had a book of cartoons by Herblock, who was the political cartoonist for The Washington Post,” Frosh (D) said during a Frederick Uncut podcast taping last week by the Frederick News-Post. “I would ask my father to explain them to me. And I guess I got his perspective on politics through Herblock.”
ACLU-MD SUES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland filed a federal lawsuit against President Trump on Monday in an effort to halt his administration’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of six transgender service members — including one from Anne Arundel County — is the latest to allege that the prohibition amounts to a violation of the troops’ constitutional rights to equal treatment and due process, Jessica Anderson and John Fritze of the Sun report.
- “The Trump administration has provided no evidence that this pronouncement was based on any analysis of the actual cost and disruption allegedly caused by allowing men and women who are transgender to serve openly,” states the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, reports Anamika Roy in the Daily Record. The lead plaintiff, Petty Officer First Class Brock Stone, is stationed in Fort Meade.