State Roundup, February 5, 2019

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ELLICOTT CITY FLOOD STANDARDS BILL PULLED: A proposal meant to impose higher flood standards in Ellicott City has been pulled by a state lawmaker based on comments from the Maryland Department of the Environment, reports Erin Logan of the Howard County Times. The bill proposed by Del. Courtney Watson, a Democrat who represents District 9B, would have mandated that Howard County require new buildings constructed in historic Ellicott City to be built under standards based on the “flood-of-record.”

BILL WOULD DECRIMINALIZE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE: Attempted suicide has been prosecuted at least 10 times in the past five years, state data shows. Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery) is trying to stop the practice with legislation to decriminalize the act, writes Arelis Hernandez for the Post. “It’s very peculiar,” Moon said. “The problem with this is prosecutors use it to try to get people into treatment. It’s an entirely backwards way of dealing with mental health.”

PANEL QUESTIONS HANDGUN BOARD PROCESS: The Maryland Senate committee charged with vetting gubernatorial nominees has questions about the Handgun Permit Review Board – again. Members of the Senate Executive Nominations Committee raised questions not about the qualifications of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s three nominees to the board, but about how the board – which considers appeals of Maryland State Police decisions on concealed carry permits – reaches its decisions, writes Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters.

BILL WOULD GIVE MO CO MORE SAY ON SPEED LIMITS: A bill being considered this month in the state legislature would allow the County Council to more easily set a 15 mph speed limit on residential streets in Montgomery County, reports Dan Schere for Bethesda Beaty. Del. David Moon, a Takoma Park Democrat who is the bill’s main sponsor, introduced a similar measure two years ago that was passed by the House of Delegates but did not get a vote in the Senate.

FUTURE OF RECREATIONAL POT: The leaders of a legislative panel that could determine the future of legalized recreational marijuana in Maryland say they are leaning against putting the issue before voters, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.

TREASURER PANEL FORMED: Maryland lawmakers have formed a committee to consider candidates for the office of treasurer, the AP is reporting. House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller announced the 10-member committee of state legislators Monday. Nancy Kopp has reapplied for the position, which is voted on by the General Assembly every four years.

MORE BREWERIES: Beer drinkers in Maryland have plenty to look forward to this year. More than a dozen breweries are in the works throughout the state, according to a list maintained by the Brewers Association of Maryland. They’ll join the approximately 100 breweries already open and operating, Amanda Yeager reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

HOGAN EXPECTS PG OFFICIALS TO LEAD ON STADIUM: While Gov. Larry Hogan is willing to work with the federal government on a land swap that would give Maryland control of Oxon Cove, a 500-acre parcel on the Potomac River in southern Prince George’s County, his administration expects county officials to take the lead in negotiating a stadium deal with Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

SCALING A FUND-RAISING WALL: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that one thing that makes presidential election years exciting in Maryland is the fact that state lawmakers can run for Congress without having to risk their own legislative seats. But for any state lawmaker contemplating a congressional run, there is this daunting and inescapable reality: Incumbent members of Congress start the election cycle with a huge fundraising advantage.

RUSSIAN TIES CUT: Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that a new firm has taken ownership of hosting Maryland’s elections data after a federal investigation into the Russian ties of the previous vendor. Maryland elections administrator Linda Lamone said Monday the state will use Intelishift, a Virginia-based data center, and its subsidiary, The Sidus Group, through Dec. 31.

CRAB FRAUDSTER SENTENCED: Chesapeake Bay-area crab fraud scheme has landed a Virginia seafood business owner in prison for nearly four years, reports Catherine Rentz of the Sun. A federal judge sentenced James R. Casey of Poquoson, Virginia, to 45 months in prison and a $15,000 fine for conspiring to falsely label millions of dollars worth of foreign crabmeat.

UM FAN BASE FAULTERS: The University of Maryland has struggled to reverse recent declines in fan interest in the football program, which underwent a turbulent 2018 season after the heatstroke death of 19-year-old player Jordan McNair, a new document shows. Jeff Barker of the Sun reports that athletic event ticket sales and outside donations to the football program fell in the fiscal year ending last June 30 for the second year in a row.

BROWN UPBEAT ON GUN BILL HEARING: U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown believes his gun legislation will finally receive hearings now that Democrats control the House of Representatives, but isn’t fooling himself that the Republican Senate will take up the House-passed bills unless President Donald Trump is on board, Chase Cook reports for the Annapolis Capital. In a wide-ranging interview on Monday with reporters and editors at The Capital, Brown discussed his gun legislation, his thoughts on partisan gridlock, his declaration not to run for president and his thoughts on the Super Bowl.

MARYLAND FATHER GUEST OF PRESIDENT: President Donald Trump has invited Tom Wibberley — the father of a Maryland man killed in the 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen — to attend the State of the Union speech Tuesday night as his guest, the White House said. Also on the official guest list is Joshua Trump, a sixth-grader from Wilmington, Del., writes Jeff Barker for the Sun.

CUMMINGS TELLS VA GOV TO QUIT: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings has joined a chorus of elected officials calling on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to step down over a racist photo in his medical school yearbook, Jeff Barker reports in the Sun.“Members of Virginia’s African-American community deserve better from the head of their commonwealth,” the Baltimore Democrat posted on Twitter.

OPIOID CZAR MULLED IN BA CO: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is considering appointing an Opioid Czar to be the point person as the county grapples with the second-highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in Maryland. This comes as the county is being criticized for not doing enough to address a problem Olszewski says is ravaging parts of the county, John Lee reports for WYPR-FM.