State Roundup, December 13, 2018

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RAZE PIMLICO TO SAVE PREAKNESS, STUDY SAYS: Keeping the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore may require razing Pimlico Race Course, a new Maryland Stadium Authority study scheduled to be unveiled Thursday suggests. Amanda Yeager of the Baltimore Business Journal writes that a summary of the findings released Wednesday recommends demolishing all structures on the Northwest Baltimore site — including the tracks, infield, grandstand, clubhouse and equestrian barns — and rebuilding some of them, along with other, non-racing-related amenities that can be used all year long.

3D, GHOST GUNS TO BE TARGETED: Brooks DuBose of Capital News Service reports in MarylandReporter that, with about a month until the 2019 legislature convenes on Jan. 9, the new Democratic House of Delegates majority leader is looking to continue the progress made last session on gun violence prevention by banning 3D and ghost guns in the state.

STEMMING NATIONAL POT FIRM INFLUX: State regulators have scheduled a public hearing to address concerns that national cannabis corporations are trying to dominate Maryland’s medical marijuana market by skirting rules designed to prevent a few firms from controlling the burgeoning industry, Doug Donovan of the Sun writes.

GOP VOTERS URGE SUPREME COURT ON DISTRICTING: A group of Republican voters on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower court decision that their western Maryland congressional district was so severely drawn to ensure a Democrat’s election as to violate their constitutional right to political association, Steve Lash of the Daily Record reports.

HBI DECISION IN WINGS: An appellate panel will determine whether to allow a sweeping order to desegregate Maryland’s historically black institutions to stand after hearing arguments Tuesday. Heather Cobun of the Daily Record writes that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on cross-appeals from the parties to a lawsuit filed in 2006 accusing the Maryland Higher Education Commission of “maintaining vestiges of the prior de jure system of segregation” by allowing traditionally white schools to duplicate programs that were unique to the HBIs.

MALL WORK PUSHES RALLIES FROM SPOTLIGHT: Even the most high-profile rallies during the 2019 legislative session will be less visible. With Lawyers’ Mall torn up for an ongoing project to replace the aging infrastructure below, the largest rallies on the State House complex will be moved down Bladen Street, beyond the House and Senate office buildings, to a courtyard between the state’s treasury and revenue buildings, reports Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters.

HOGAN TAPS SCHUH FOR OPIOID COMMAND: As opioid deaths continue to soar in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has changed leadership at the state’s command center dealing with the crisis. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that former Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, who lost a re-election bid in November, will become the command center’s new director, replacing Clay Stamp, Hogan announced Wednesday.

TRUMP SIGNS AID ORDER: President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday directing more federal resources to struggling neighborhoods — an initiative hailed by the pastor of an East Baltimore church who appeared at the event and stood next to the president, Jeff Barker of the Sun is reporting. Trump’s order will help federal agencies aid the “opportunity zones” program, which is designed to attract billions of dollars of private investment and government resources to distressed communities.

TEACHER PROTESTS OXEN HILL LAND SWAP: Calvert County teacher Erin Frere says she used to play at Oxon Cove Park as a child. Now that she’s a parent, she and her husband take their children there. With recent news reports outlining a potential land swap between the state of Maryland and the federal government — a deal that could lead to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder building a new stadium on the 300-acre site — Frere is trying to mobilize public opinion to stop the project from happening, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.

***SUPPORT NONPROFIT NEWS: Any tax-deductible donation to MarylandReporter.com up to $1,000 will be doubled by four national foundations if we get it by Dec. 31. $50 becomes $100, $250 is worth $500, $1,000 doubles to $2,000. We’re now over 80% toward the maximum grant of $25,000.***

HOGAN TAPS JUDGES: Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday named a longtime solo practitioner and career-long prosecutor to circuit court judgeships in Baltimore and St. Mary’s counties, respectively. The governor also selected an administrative law judge and an assistant Maryland attorney general to district court judgeships in Harford and Anne Arundel counties, Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes.

MO CO AWAITS INFO ON SCHOOL PLAN: Facing what has been described as a “severe backlog” of major construction projects, Montgomery County’s school system is awaiting more information on a plan announced Tuesday by the governor to funnel an additional $1.9 billion into school construction projects across the state over the next five years, Caitlynn Peetz of Bethesda Beat writes.

NO BENEFIT FROM BA CO LAPTOP EFFORT: It has been four years since Baltimore County’s first elementary school children excitedly put their hands on their own laptops, beginning a $147 million rollout aimed at giving students from first to 12th grade access to technology and transforming the way lessons are taught. But, reports Liz Bowie in the Sun, the ambitious program has yet to show the results many had hoped for.

PITTMAN REPORTS FOR JURY DUTY: Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman is sorry he wasn’t at work Wednesday morning — he had to report for jury duty. The newly elected official sat inside Anne Arundel County Courthouse Wednesday awaiting his turn as jurors were considered for upcoming cases, Chase Cook writes in the Annapolis Capital.

CARDIN PRAISES TIME MAG CHOICE: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin praised Time magazine’s decision to highlight violence against Capital Gazette and other journalists in a speech delivered Wednesday on the Senate floor. Cardin questioned why President Donald Trump continues to hurl insults and journalists, even after he offered words of condolence in the days after the deaths of Wendi Winters, Rebecca Smith, Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman and John McNamara in a June 28 attack on the newspaper’s office in Annapolis, the Capital Gazette reports.

Keith Haller

KEITH HALLER, 70: Keith Haller, a communications and polling master who was a fixture on the Maryland civic and political scene for decades – and was a co-founder of Maryland Matters – died Tuesday after a months-long battle with cancer. He was 70 and lived in Rockville. A native New Yorker, Haller rose to prominence in Maryland as chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Michael Barnes (D), who became a lifelong friend, Josh Kurtz writes for Maryland Matters.