JUDGE ORDERS PAY FOR HOGAN APPOINTEES: Two appointees of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who are at the center of a standoff between him and top Democrats, must be paid the salaries that the state began withholding this summer, an Anne Arundel County judge ruled on Thursday, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting.
- The judge ordered acting health secretary Dennis Schrader and Wendi Peters, who had been acting secretary of planning, retroactively to July 1, when they stopped receiving paychecks following actions by state lawmakers, Pamela Wood reports for the Sun. The state Senate confirms all of the governor’s cabinet picks. But the full Senate did not vote on Hogan’s nominations of Schrader and Peters during the General Assembly session that ended in April. Hogan withdrew the nominations, then appointed them again after the session ended.
- Danielle Gaines of the Frederick News-Post writes that the decision was appealed by the Office of the Attorney General, representing Maryland Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp (D) on Thursday afternoon.
- The judge denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the Office of the Attorney General, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. “This is a case that will be decided in the appellate court,” said Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Brian E. Frosh.
DESCHENAUX REPLACEMENT NAMED: When Warren Deschenaux, the Maryland General Assembly’s veteran fiscal guru and top staffer, announced earlier this year that he planned to retire, legislative leaders said they would launch a nationwide search to replace him. But it seemed pretty clear that their leading candidate was right in front of them. That was confirmed Thursday evening, writes Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters, when Senate President Mike Miller (D) and House Speaker Mike Busch (D) announced that Victoria Gruber, Miller’s longtime top aide, would become the new executive director of the Department of Legislative Services.
- Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post that Miller said in a statement that “All members of the legislature know that Vicki has a keen intellect and a tremendous grasp of public policy and the state budget. In the modern era, we must do what we can to promote strong, talented women, and I can think of nobody better suited for the job than Ms. Gruber.”
POLLUTING INCINERATOR AS CLEAN ENERGY: Scott Dance of the Sun, who recently wrote about black liquor and its classification as renewable energy, now writes about the trash incinerator in Southwest Baltimore. It is the city’s largest single source of air pollution. But a state law has nonetheless allowed it to collect roughly $10 million in subsidies over the past six years through a program intended to promote green energy.
EXELON CAN AID BAY, STILL PROFIT: Exelon Corp. could help restore the lower Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay by changing the way it generates electricity at Conowingo Dam, and still make a “healthy” profit, a pair of environmental groups reported this month, writes Tim Wheeler of the Bay Journal in an article in MarylandReporter. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Nature Conservancy released a study they jointly commissioned that finds that the Chicago-based energy company could easily afford to mitigate the impacts Conowingo is having on downriver fish habitat and water quality.
GUNS & GOD: David Anderson of the Aegis writes that people attending services in a house of worship in Maryland would have the option to carry a firearm for self defense, should bills sponsored by two Harford County legislators pass in Annapolis next year. The legislation, which was announced Tuesday during a press conference at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Southern Precinct in Edgewood, is called the Parishioner Protection Act of 2018.
RX POT MARKET UNDER WAY: Medical marijuana regulators approved 12 new dispensaries Thursday to open in the state, more than doubling the number of businesses allowed to sell the drug. But they cautioned the supply remains low, and it may be difficult to buy marijuana until at least March, writes Erin Cox for the Sun.
- The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission gave the final sign-off to Positive Energy in Worcester County; Harvest of Maryland, Bloom Medicinals and Herbology in Montgomery County; Nature’s Cure and Wellness in Cecil County; Pure Life Wellness and Medical Products and Services in Baltimore City; Revolution Relief and Zen Leaf in Howard County; Charm City Medicus and Temescal Wellness in Baltimore County; and Haven in Prince George’s County, reports Aaron Gregg in the Post.
- Fenit Nirappil of the Post offers up a primer on medical marijuana in Maryland: How to get it, where to get it and how to use it.
- Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that medical marijuana plants are growing in Washington County, and a company official said production will ramp up in January. “We are getting going,” Steve White said Wednesday night at a Hancock Town Council meeting. “We actually have had some harvesting done. We have sent product out for testing.”
ELIMINATING GERRYMANDERING: The editorial board of the Carroll County Times notes the destructive nature of partisan drawing of election districts. It not only contributes to the hyper-partisanship seen in today’s politics, but also disenfranchises voters who feel their voice doesn’t matter when politicians are able to essentially pick their constituents, rather than the other way around. Gov. Hogan, the editorial board writes, “has once again pledged to try to improve the state’s redistricting process to make it a nonpartisan affair and eliminate gerrymandering in Maryland. … with 2018 being an election year, we aren’t going to hold our breath.”
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DEM GUBERNATORIAL FORUM: The Democrats running for governor in Maryland are largely united in their disdain for Republican incumbent Larry Hogan, their belief that more money is needed for education and transportation, and that Montgomery County is a thriving, diverse community whose challenges are often overlooked in Annapolis, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.
- Josh Kurtz, who moderated the debate, faults himself for the lack of spark in this forum. But, he writes in his Maryland Matters blog, “Usually … there’s a knowledge gap between the experienced officeholders and the novices. That knowledge gap this time wasn’t as wide as I was expecting – or as wide as it has seemed at previous candidate cattle calls.”
- Robert McCartney and Rachel Siegel of the Post write that the forum offered an early glimpse at the subjects that will shape the race, particularly education and transportation, six months before the June 26 primary. The candidates said Hogan has neglected the needs of the Washington suburbs and Baltimore area, the state’s two principal Democratic strongholds.
- Gov. Larry Hogan’s highway widening plans? Unrealistic. Dedicated Metro funding? For it. Equitable dollars for school construction? Needed. Those were the answers from the eight Democratic gubernatorial candidates who met at a brief forum Thursday morning in North Bethesda at the annual Committee for Montgomery legislative breakfast, writes Andrew Metcalf for Bethesda Beat. Despite efforts by moderator Josh Kurtz to elicit some differences between the candidates, they ended up sounding similar throughout.
VIGNARAJAH ON ROUGHLY SPEAKING: Dan Rodricks, during his Roughly Speaking podcast for the Sun, speaks with Krish Vignarajah, a 38-year-old attorney and former policy adviser to Michelle Obama who is one of eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in 2018. Born in Sri Lanka, Vignarajah grew up in Baltimore and Baltimore County. Here’s a link to six other Roughly Speaking podcasts with gubernatorial candidates.