State Roundup, November 15, 2018

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GERIATRIC PRISONERS RELEASED: Tim Prudente of the Sun reports that over the past six years, nearly 200 prisoners, mostly geriatric men convicted of rape and murder, have been set free in Maryland. Only one has been arrested again, researchers for the Justice Policy Institute have found. The nonprofit is pointing to those released under Maryland’s landmark Unger ruling as proof that prison reform could save taxpayers millions of dollars without compromising public safety. The nonprofit also wants changes to what researchers call an antiquated parole process in Maryland. Currently, the governor must approve parole for any prisoner sentenced to life.

DGS TO PAY $100,000 OVER LAWYERS’ MALL SUIT: The Department of General Services will no longer ban financial solicitations on Lawyers’ Mall and will pay nearly $100,000 to compensate groups prohibited from engaging in what they called constitutionally protected speech, under a settlement announced Wednesday, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

ELECTION NIGHT GLITCHES: Election night was a week ago, but problems at polling places around the state drew the attention of members of the Board of Public Works Wednesday, writes Bryan Sears of the Daily Record. General election night “glitches” in several counties delayed the timely release of results. Some on the three-member board Wednesday expressed concern and in some cases outright irritation as they sought answers from Maryland Elections Administrator Linda Lamone.

OPINION: MARYLAND OFF THE HOOK: The editorial board of the Sun looks on the very bright side of having half of Amazon’s HQ2 not located in Montgomery County, Md., but just 10 miles away in Crystal City, Va. Best of all, the state’s taxpayers won’t “be on the hook, directly and indirectly, for many years to come. Income tax credits, sales and use tax exemptions, state property tax credit, local property tax reimbursement, you name it and Amazon was poised to receive it, making the richest man in the world even richer. On the other hand, how much will the Crystal City jobs cost Maryland? Nothing. Zip. Zilch.”

OPINION: NEW STATE ORDER: Last week’s election brought more change to the Maryland political scene than it first appeared, opines Josh Kurtz in a commentary for Maryland Matters. Start with new county executives in five of the state’s seven biggest counties, and lots of other new county officials. Add in 16 new state senators – seven of them in their 30s and 40s – and more than 40 new House members. But more important, if a federal court order for the state to redraw its congressional district map next year stands, that will begin to upend the regular order.

DEL. GLASS RESIGNED TO POSSIBLE LOSS: Democrat Steve Johnson widened, by more than 100 votes, his lead over incumbent Republican Del. Glen Glass in the race for two seats in the Maryland House of Delegates from Harford County’s Legislative Subdistrict 34A after a second post-election ballot canvass ended Wednesday afternoon, David Anderson reports in the Aegis.

ON THE ELECTION: In this Red Maryland podcast, Brian Griffiths and Greg Kline of Red Maryland speak with Rory McShane, principal of McShane LLC and speaker at the Red Maryland Leadership Conference, about the election results here in Maryland.

BALL RECONSIDERS ELLICOTT CITY PLAN: Calvin Ball, the newly elected county executive of Howard County, has “great concerns” about his predecessor’s five-year flood mitigation plan for Ellicott City, and says demolishing 10 historic buildings on Main Street could be “counterproductive,” Neal Augenstein of WTOP-AM reports. “I think taking away a lot of the things that people (want to visit in) Ellicott City is counterproductive, if that’s not something that we have to do,” Ball said.

HOW PITTMAN WON IN RED ARUNDEL: Anne Arundel County Executive-elect Steuart Pittman wooed areas that previously backed incumbent Republican Steve Schuh, flipping about four dozen precincts on election day, precinct voter data shows. Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports that Schuh underperformed in precincts located in more conservative areas of the county with Pittman even bringing some of those precincts to his side. Schuh won the majority of precincts on election day with 115 to Pittman’s 80 and garnered more overall votes on Nov. 6.

ELRICH’s TRANSITION TEAM: Montgomery County Executive-elect Marc Elrich has released the names of those on his transition team, and the list of more than 180 people includes a mix of politicians, civic leaders, business people, former campaign staff and other influential players in Montgomery County, Dan Schere writes for Bethesda Beat. Leading the transition team is Andrew Kleine, the former budget director for the city of Baltimore, according to a press release sent Tuesday by transition team spokesman Scott Peterson

PRO-NAZI SHOUTS DISTRUPT ‘FIDDLER’ AUDIENCE: A man shouted a pro-Nazi and pro-Trump salute during a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night in an outburst that some audience members feared was the beginning of a shooting. Audience member Rich Scherr said the outburst happened during intermission. The man, who had been seated in the balcony, began shouting “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump.” Christina Tkacik reports in the Sun.

CAPITAL SEEKS TO UNIONIZE: The Capital, a Maryland community newspaper where five employees were killed in June in a mass shooting, is pushing to unionize under the auspices of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. The initiative, say staffers, is driven by low pay and a sense of alienation that comes with working as part of such a large corporation; the newspaper is a unit of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, which is in turn part of Tribune Publishing, Erik Wemple of the Post reports.