State Roundup, February 1, 2019

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MOMS DEMAND ACTION LOBBIES ANNAPOLIS: Although Maryland already has some of the strictest firearms laws in the nation, members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said Thursday that the state needs to adopt new measures and remain a leader on gun control. They fanned out across the Maryland State House complex advocate for a ban on 3D printed guns and guns assembled from kits known as “ghost guns” and for requiring background checks on private purchases of shotguns and rifles, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.

MORE SENTENCING OPTIONS: State Sen. George Edwards is hoping to give judges and law enforcement officials in Garrett County more sentencing options for alleged offenders awaiting trial. Greg Larry of the Cumberland Times-News reports that the law enforcement measure is one of two bills Edwards is sponsoring in this year’s session of the General Assembly. The second bill is an effort to rid the state’s public school system of aging school buses by limiting vehicle use to 15 years.

TIGHTER REGS ON FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES: Maryland lawmakers will look to tighten regulations on for-profit colleges and career schools, hoping to protect students from falling into a student loan debt hole, reports Tim Curtis for the Daily Record. Legislation introduced Thursday by Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, would limit how much of a student’s education could be paid for with loans and require schools to make disclosures about student outcomes.

BILL WOULD ALLOW RX POT EDIBLES: Medical marijuana patients can choose from a variety of flowers, pre-rolls and tinctures when they come to Potomac Holistics in Rockville, Rachel Chason of the Post reports. What they cannot get are cannabis-infused edibles like brownies and chocolates. A bill being considered in the General Assembly this legislative session would eliminate that prohibition, allowing edibles to be sold in dispensaries and regulated by the state’s medical cannabis commission.

SHORTER STANDARDIZED TESTS: Here’s some good news for Maryland’s public school students – the state Department of Education plans to cut the time they spend taking standardized tests, reports Diane Rey for MarylandReporter. The new Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program is being developed to replace the PARCC exams that have been used for the past four years to measure progress in areas such as language arts, math, science and social studies.The new tests are expected to roll out in the spring of 2020 and are expected to be 40% shorter.

PHYS ED REQUIREMENT FOR KIDS: Legislation that would require 150 minutes of physical activity, including 90 minutes of physical education, a week for elementary school students in Maryland was heard by the House Ways and Means committee on Thursday. The Student Health and Fitness Act would require schools to create a physical leadership activity team to fill the remaining 60 minutes with “moderate to vigorous” activity, David Jahng of the Capital News Service writes.

TAX BREAK FOR ROBOTICS HOSTS: Heather Lin, 15, and her brother, Samuel Lin, 13, of Potomac, are already veterans in the world of robotics. They came to Annapolis to support SB 122, which would provide a property tax credit to property owners who allow robotics clubs to meet at their site, Diane Rey of MarylandReporter writes.

OPINION: POST LABOR DAY SCHOOL START: The Sun editorial board comes out for legislation to allow local school boards to decide when to start school, opining that if the post-Labor Day start is so popular, why continue the mandate? If families want “summer to be summer” rather than “spring break to be spring break” and are happy with a post-Labor Day start, why not return the authority to school boards?

  • Sun editorial page deputy editor Tricia Bishop writes in a column about an unintended consequence of the post-Labor Day start to school: “Did I ever tell you about the time the governor broke my daughter’s collarbone? That may be a slight exaggeration. It was more a joint effort by the governor, the comptroller and the summer camp planners at the Orokawa Y in Towson, which was, a manager eventually told me, uncharacteristically understaffed when my kid arrived in late August 2017. They weren’t typically in session then, I was told, and many counselors had left for college.”

ON PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICING: In this 30-minute Miner Detail podcast, Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, vice chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee, joined by House Republican Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga and co-hosts Ryan Miner and Len Lazarick to discuss the rising costs of prescription drugs and legislation before the House HGO committee. The two prominent state legislators also reacted to Gov. Larry Hogan’s State of the State Address.

COMBINED REPORTING BILL: A bill proposed by Sen. Ron Young, a Democrat from Frederick County, would require retail and restaurant chains in Maryland to use combined reporting for corporate income taxes. Combined reporting would require companies with subsidiaries in different states to account for those subsidiaries when filing their income taxes in Maryland, reports Holden Wilen in the Baltimore Business Journal.

$12M FOR GARRETT PROJECTS: Gov. Larry Hogan unveiled his proposed $46.6 billion fiscal year 2020 budget during a press conference in Annapolis on Jan. 17. The document includes nearly $12 million for capital projects in Garrett County, plus more than $60 million for education, grants, state operations and other local line items, Renee Shreve reports for the Garrett County Republican.

HOGAN PREZ WATCH: Would Gov. Larry Hogan actually do it? Could he possibly win? And what would it mean for our state to have our governor challenging President Donald Trump, who’s been known to lash out at people who cross him? Luke Broadwater of the Sun attempts to address these questions even as Hogan himself says he is flattered by the attention but is not doing anything to fuel the speculation.

PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING IN BA CO? Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Thursday proposed creating a system of public financing of local campaigns, saying it would reduce the influence of special interests on county politics. Olszewski said he will put forth a charter amendment for the 2020 ballot to establish a “citizens’ election fund” for County Council and county executive candidates, writes Alison Knezevich for the Sun.

MILLER BLASTS MOSBY ON MARIJUANA STAND: The longtime leader of the Maryland Senate sharply criticized Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s plan to no longer prosecute marijuana possession charges. Senate President Mike Miller, speaking to reporters following Gov. Larry Hogan’s fifth State of the State speech, praised the governor for his interest in curbing crime in Baltimore. That praise then morphed into an attack on Mosby’s recently announced policy, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.