State Roundup, November 29, 2017

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DEMS EYE BUMP STOCK BAN: Top Democrats in the General Assembly want to expand Maryland’s assault weapons ban to also forbid the sale of bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas mass shooting to turn a semiautomatic rifle into a rapidly firing weapon, reports Erin Cox in the Sun. Maryland’s sweeping ban on military-style guns and high-capacity magazines had been under court review for years until Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s ruling that the ban was constitutional.

PAID SICK LEAVE DUEL: Maryland’s battle over requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave entered a new phase Tuesday, with Gov. Larry Hogan (R) proposing a less-generous alternative to a bill approved this spring by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, Josh Hicks of the Post writes.

HOGAN DISSES PUGH: Gov. Larry Hogan expressed concern Tuesday about Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh’s crime-fighting strategy, saying he’s not sure what her plan is to reduce the record homicide rate, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. While Hogan told reporters that he had “a lot of confidence” in Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, he demurred when asked about his confidence in Pugh’s crime plans.

BREWERY BROUHAHA: While Maryland has taken advantage of the exploding craft brewery industry to some extent, brewers and their supporters say there is considerable untapped potential. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that that is why Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has vowed to try again in 2018 to overhaul state law in hopes of better attracting and retaining craft-beer manufacturers.

MARYLAND FARMERS COMMITTED TO CONSERVATION: Today, Maryland farmers use technology and some pretty nifty techniques to grow a bigger crop using fewer inputs. They also operate with conservation and sustainability as top priorities. Maryland soybean farmers now harvest 29% more bushels of soybeans on just 11% more soybean acres than they did in 2010. At the same time, Maryland farmers reduced soil erosion 21% between 2000 and 2015. The USDA reflected these findings, citing independent reports that show positive trends for water quality, habitat and key aquatic species. The reports also show declines in nutrient and sediment loads to the Chesapeake Bay. Read more about Maryland farmers’ commitment to conservation and sustainability. SPONSORED CONTENT***

RX POT SHOPS TO OPEN: Within the next week, Rise, a Silver Spring business, is scheduled to begin selling a variety of cannabis products, such as flowers, patches and oils. Four of the state’s other eight dispensaries — including Potomac Holistics in Rockville — say they expect to have medical pot delivered and available for sale by Friday, marking the official launch in Maryland of an industry that is worth billions nationwide. Two said they expect to receive their initial batch of marijuana from Curio Wellness in Baltimore County, which did not return messages seeking comment. Rachel Siegel and Fenit Nirappil report the story for the Post.

HEARING ON OPIOID CRISIS: A congressional field hearing on opioids held Tuesday in Baltimore, Republicans, Democrats and health care officials agreed about the scope of the problem, but there appeared to be little agreement about who should do what. Meredith Cohn of the Sun writes that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee came to Baltimore, where opioids have been a particular scourge, at the behest of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, its ranking Democrat.

MO CO-PG HOUSING PACT: Government, business and community leaders from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties agreed Tuesday to preserve affordable housing and create jobs along the Purple Line corridor where construction is expected to drive up land values around its 21 stations, reports Katherine Shaver in the Post. The agreement, thought to be the second of its kind in the country, isn’t legally binding. But signatories called it a public commitment to help those who live and work in the 16-mile light-rail corridor stay and benefit from the state’s $5.6 billion transit investment.

  • Montgomery Executive Ike Leggett and Prince George’s Executive Rushern Baker described the agreement as a way to protect local businesses and residents located along the light-rail line’s route, writes Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. The agreement espouses four goals for local governments and planning boards along the route: help local businesses prosper, expand the local labor force, create housing opportunities for all incomes and promote vibrant, sustainable communities.

JEALOUS PICKS TURNBULL: Former NAACP chief Ben Jealous has selected longtime Democratic Party insider Susan W. Turnbull as his running mate in the crowded primary contest for governor, Erin Cox of the Sun writes. Turnbull, like Jealous, has never run for public office before. But unlike her new running mate, Turnbull has been active in Maryland and national Democratic politics for decades.

SHIELD SOUGHT FOR KUSHNER CO. INVESTORS: Doug Donovan reports in the Sun that the apartment company owned by Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law of President Donald J. Trump, has asked a federal judge in Maryland to hide the names of the firm’s investors to protect them from what it says has been unfair media coverage of a lawsuit filed by Baltimore-area tenants. Two tenants filed a class-action lawsuit in Baltimore Circuit Court in late September saying the firm has charged them improper fees and threatened eviction to force payment.

PRESS SECRETARY BOB HUGHES DEAD AT 68: Robert W. “Bob” Hughes, a former Baltimore County Public Library spokesman who earlier had been press secretary to three Baltimore County executives, died Nov. 16 — his 68th birthday — from heart failure at Northwest Hospital, Fred Rasmussen reports in the Sun.