State Roundup, March 5, 2019

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EDUCATION ‘BLUEPRINT’ INTRODUCED: Democratic leaders in the General Assembly introduced legislation Monday that would boost funding in Maryland’s public schools by hundreds of millions to pay for ambitious education proposals. The so-called Blueprint for Maryland’s Future would provide more than $1 billion in funding from the state budget over the next two years to begin implementing the recommendations from a commission studying how to best improve the state’s schools, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

POLL: MARYLANDERS OPPOSE ‘GENDER NEUTRAL’ LICENSES: Roughly half of Maryland voters oppose a bill that is moving through the General Assembly that would allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses, according to a poll released Tuesday by Gonzales Research and Media Services, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

HOGAN KEEPS HIGH APPROVALS: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s approval rating is at 78%, drawing support from all corners of the state, among Republicans and Democrats alike, according to a new Gonzales poll. Eighty-five percent of Republican voters and 85% of unaffiliated voters also approved of Hogan’s job performance, according to the poll of 817 registered voters taken Feb. 22-March 1. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5 points, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.

SEX ABUSE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: One month after Annapolis’ Key School released a scathing report that described 20 years of abuse of students by teachers, Maryland delegates are considering a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims to file civil claims, Lauren Lumpkin of the Annapolis Capital reports.

END OF LIFE BILL: Legislation that would allow Maryland patients with a terminal diagnosis to choose to end their own lives was advanced by a legislative committee for the first time Friday, but the measure faces more challenges as it advances through the legislature, Tim Curtis reports in the Daily Record.

MARCH FOR LIFE: The Maryland March for Life has brought pro-life protesters to Annapolis for 41 years. But for many, this year carried extra weight. Hundreds marched through downtown Monday night to push back against the End-of-Life Option Act, also known as “Death with Dignity,” Selene San Felice reports in the Annapolis Capital.

ONLINE PRIVACY PROTECTION: State legislatures across the country are questioning how to respond to our national epidemic of privacy violations. Maryland’s Cybersecurity Council is suggesting answers in hearings this week on a new Online Consumer Protection Act, writes Jim Steyer of Common Sense in an opinion piece for MarylandReporter.com.

CLIMATE SCIENTISTS PUSH BUSCH ON JOBS ACT: Ten Maryland climate scientists have sent an urgent appeal to House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel), arguing that the looming climate crisis demands immediate action and that the best way to confront global warming in the state is to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, which will be up for hearings this week, Josh Kurtz is reporting for Maryland Matters.

WHAT’s UP IN ANNAPOLIS: Here’s some of what will be happening in Annapolis this week, courtesy of Joel McCord of WYPR-FM.

HADDAWAY-RICCIO LIKELY TO BE DNR CHIEF: After a round of tough questioning, acting Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio appears headed for confirmation, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The Senate Executive Nominations Committee voted nearly unanimously Monday to recommend confirmation of the former Eastern Shore delegate, who more recently served as a deputy chief of staff to Gov. Larry Hogan. Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, stood as the lone vote against her.

PAUSE ON REDISTRICTING?: A Maryland state delegate is calling for a delay in enacting any changes to how congressional districts are drawn even as he sponsors a bill that offers a plan to revamp the redistricting process, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

JHU ADMINS DONATE TO PUGH: On Jan. 9, 2019, nine senior administrators and one retired hospital CEO at Johns Hopkins University contributed a total of $16,000 to the campaign coffers of Mayor Catherine Pugh, Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew reports. As a private non-profit educational institution, JHU is banned from making contributions to political campaigns or to politicians.

HYDROLOGIST SAYS CONOWINGO NOT THE PROBLEM: With his presentation, “The Conowingo Boogeyman: Busting Popular and Political Myths,” a retired U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist and sediment expert aimed to disprove that the Conowingo Dam is the main cause of pollution and debris; that it causes sediment plumes in the Chesapeake Bay; and the dam is responsible for flooding in Port Deposit. He also argued it is not the responsibility of Exelon Generation Co. — who owns and operates Conowingo Dam — to clean up the debris accumulated behind the dam, Leann Schenke reports in the Kent County News.

MD TO SUE TRUMP ADMIN ON ABORTION MOVE: Maryland and several other Democratic-led states announced that they are challenging the Trump administration’s effort to set up obstacles for women seeking abortions, including barring taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring patients to abortion providers, Paul Alias of the AP is reporting.

OPINION: OPIOIDS KILLING BALTIMORE CITY: In a column for his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar writes that Baltimore City’s 300-plus homicides last year may have captured headlines, but that wasn’t Charm City’s No. 1 cause of death. Not even close. Opioid-related overdoses were the biggest killer in the city as well as in Maryland. Just through the first nine months of 2018, the city’s opioid deaths hit 607 — double the homicide rate for the whole year. The highly dangerous synthetic painkiller, fentanyl, was at fault in 88% of those cases.

OPINION: BUSCH MUM ON LISANTI RESIGNATION: In an opinion piece for Red Maryland, Greg Kline asks why, amid the bipartisan calls for Del. Mary Ann Lisanti to resign for apparently using a racial slur, is House Speaker Michael Busch silent?

HOGAN PREZ WATCH: Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday that he doesn’t yet believe President Donald Trump is vulnerable in a primary, but he’s still considering launching a challenge because “things could change.” In an interview with Alexandra Jaffe of the Associated Press at a National Governors Association regional meeting in Iowa, Hogan said: “I have a real important day job. I’m not someone who would just run just to make a statement. I’d have to believe there was an actual path to victory.”

ON JOHN DELANEY: In a column for the Post, Jennifer Rubin writes about U.S. Rep. John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat who was also the first person to announce a run for the presidency. She writes about an interview she had with him and concludes that Delaney should get credit for direct, substantive answers, especially on the debt.

STATE, CSX TO SEEK FED BUCKS FOR TUNNEL: Maryland and CSX Transportation have submitted another application for federal money to heighten the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore so it can fit shipping containers stacked two-high on freight trains — a project long sought by the port of Baltimore, Colin Campbell of the Sun reports.

CARSON SAYS HE’LL RESIGN HUD: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, a former surgeon at Johns Hopkins, says he intends to leave his post at the end of President Trump’s first term. Carson made his remarks in a segment airing Monday evening on Newsmax TV, a conservative news outlet, Tracy Jan of the Post reports. In his two years leading HUD, Carson has dialed back civil rights enforcement at the agency and suspended Obama-era rules that had been aimed at fighting housing segregation and discrimination.