BILLS WOULD BAR FOREIGN TIES TO ELECTION VENDORS: Maryland lawmakers have introduced two U.S. House bills seeking to better safeguard election systems following the disclosure that a state election software vendor had ties to a Russian investor. A measure by Democratic Rep. John Delaney and Republican Rep. Andy Harris would mandate that vendors associated with federal elections be owned and controlled by U.S. companies, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.
- Maryland U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th) introduced legislation Thursday to increase the security of election systems against foreign entities. The proposed legislation comes after the FBI informed Maryland officials last week that a Russian oligarch had invested in one of the state’s voting software vendors in 2015 without the state’s knowledge, Allen Etzler of the Frederick News-Post reports.
HOUSE CUTS BAY POLLUTION PENALTIES: For the second time in a year, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to restrict the federal government from penalizing states for missing pollution-reduction goals — such as those guiding cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay, Scott Dance reports in the Sun. The measure was again pushed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican who says the Environmental Protection Agency has been “hijacking states’ water quality strategies.”
STATE OKs BWI EXPANSION: Maryland officials on Thursday approved a $60 million renovation and expansion project at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport over the objections of Comptroller Peter Franchot and residents who live near the airport. Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that the Board of Public Works voted 2-1 to fund the project — which airport officials say is needed to fix aging infrastructure — but the panel also voted to not allow the Linthicum airport to open more airline gates until they come back to the board for additional approval.
- Comptroller Peter Franchot sought a four-week delay in approval to pressure the Federal Aviation Administration to address the use of its NextGen landing system, which has left residents complaining about excessive noise from lower-flying jets, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.
HOGAN WOULD REJECT NRA SUPPORT: Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday told a group of students from Great Mills High School, where a 16-year- old girl was killed earlier this year, that he would support toughening a law that holds parents responsible when their children gain access to their guns. Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that the Republican governor, who is seeking a second term and faces a challenge from Democrat Ben Jealous, also told the teenagers that he would reject an election endorsement from the National Rifle Association if the organization offered one.
KITTLEMAN BLASTS JEALOUS, E-MAILER: Republican Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman stepped into gubernatorial politics this week, criticizing Democratic candidate Ben Jealous for his mention of the destructive May 27 Ellicott City flood in a fundraising email, Kate Magill of the Howard County Times reports.
GUBERNATORIAL DEBATES? The debate over gubernatorial debates has begun, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. A spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous said Wednesday that incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is trying to mislead the public about debates between the two men this fall.
- Hogan’s campaign said the governor will participate in hour-long debates on Sept. 17, sponsored by Maryland Public Television, WBAL and the Baltimore Sun, and Sept. 24, sponsored by WJLA (Channel 7) and The Washington Post. But Jealous’s campaign said Thursday that they have not settled on a debate schedule, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post.
HOUSE LEADERSHIP: Del. Kathleen Dumais of Rockville, renominated last month for a fifth four-year term in the Maryland House of Delegates, late Wednesday was named the next majority leader by House Speaker Michael Busch. Busch’s appointment presumes the House—which currently has a 91-50 Democratic majority—remains in control of that party following this November’s election, Louis Peck reports for Bethesda Beat.
CLIPPINGER’s RISE: There is no way to overstate the significance of House Speaker Michael Busch’s decision to make Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) the next chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, writes Josh Kurtz in a commentary for Maryland Matters. For starters, Clippinger represents a radical – and welcome – departure from the man he will be replacing, outgoing Chairman Jose Vallario (D-Prince George’s).
BUY LOCAL COOKOUT: The 11th annual “Buy Local Cookout” was held Thursday evening at Government House on the governor’s front lawn across from the State House. Hundreds of invitation-only guests chowed down on dozens of offerings including: Caroline Blue Catfish Taco, Corn Crisp Blue Catfish with Lime Cilantro Corn Relish and Maryland YumYum Sauce, Slow-Roasted Pork Belly on Cornbread Crostini with Peach Compote, Delmarva Oysters, raw and baked, Dawson’s Lamb T-Bone with Ratatouille and White Bean Gratin, Maryland wines, craft beer and alcohol. Gov. Larry Hogan personally recommended to Maryland Reporter the Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs with Berry Bourbon BBQ Sauce, which were a crowd favorite. The full cookbook from the event is available online, listing the Maryland chefs, restaurants and producers for each item.
BLAIR SEEKS LIMITED RECOUNT: Potomac businessman David Blair has requested a partial recount in the Democratic Montgomery County executive contest that he narrowly lost to County Council member Marc Elrich, Bethany Rodgers reports in Bethesda Beat.
- According to an official, the Blair team will seek to have all absentee and provisional ballots recounted, along with votes cast in two precincts — Potomac Recreation Center and Haillie West Middle School in Clarksburg, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.
- Jennifer Barrios of the Post reports that he first-time candidate said the Potomac and Clarksburg sites were chosen based on what he called an “unusual” voting pattern. “I think it’s unlikely there will be a change, but given the narrow margin, the importance of the election and some of the issues we’ve seen, it seems prudent and appropriate to have a recount in these areas,” he said.
CRABS & CANDIDATES: On the third Wednesday of every July, the faithful flood into Somers Cove Marina for the unofficial start of another political season in Maryland at the annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. Bill Zorzi of Maryland Matters writes that this year, maybe more than others, the event is a little more supercharged, given that it’s a year when Maryland elects its top officials – governor, attorney general, comptroller – and all 188 members of the General Assembly, as well as the federal representatives and locals.
STATE REPS SLAM I.C.E. RESOLUTION: Republican-sponsored House of Representatives resolution in support of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was criticized as a “sham” and a “distraction” by Democratic House members from Maryland. Jeff Barker of the Sun writes that the measure — lauded by President Donald Trump in a tweet on Thursday morning — expresses support for “the officers and personnel who carry out the important mission of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement .” It was approved 244-35 on Wednesday.
ARUNDEL POLICE MULL CHANGES AFTER NEWSPAPER SHOOTING: Anne Arundel County police say that after reviewing their response to last month’s mass shooting that killed five Capital Gazette employees they are considering significant changes to the types of gear and weapons officers use while confronting active gunmen, Peter Hermann reports for the Annapolis Capital. County police were widely praised for their response to the shootings at the Capital Gazette newsroom, but as a matter of policy they review their performance after major events.