State Roundup, April 19, 2019

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HOGAN SIGNS 195 BILLS INTO LAW INCLUDING … Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed 195 bills into law Thursday, including measures aimed at restructuring the University of Maryland Medical System board, toughening penalties on cyberbullying and establishing a commission to research racially motivated lynchings in Maryland, Ovetta Wiggins reports in the Post. Hogan said the package of bills included many the late House speaker Michael E. Busch “would have been proud of.”

JUNE 28 ‘FREEDOM OF PRESS DAY:’ Maryland’s journalists — including five newspaper employees killed in their Annapolis office last summer — will be honored each June 28 after Gov. Larry Hogan and legislative leaders signed a resolution Thursday creating “Freedom of the Press Day.” Pamela Wood of the Sun writes that the resolution doesn’t dictate how the day should be observed, and plans still are shaping up. But Rick Hutzell, editor of The Capital newspaper in Annapolis, is grateful for the gesture of commemoration.

PROGRESSIVE GROUPS QUESTION SPEAKER HOPEFULS: The ACLU, Common Cause and 15 other progressive groups and unions are asking the candidates for speaker of the House of Delegates to answer a questionnaire that commits them to greater openness in the legislative process and to term limits for the speaker and committee chairs. The 12-part questionnaire raises many of the issues that have long troubled witnesses, advocates, lobbyists and journalists about how the legislature operates, reports Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.

MAY 1 SESSION TO ELECT SPEAKER: Gov. Larry Hogan is calling state lawmakers back to Annapolis on May 1 so the House of Delegates can elect a new speaker, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. State Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Pro tem Adrienne Jones sent a joint letter Thursday to the governor, asking him to call a special session to fill a leadership void left by the death of Speaker Michael E. Busch.

TOOL SHOWS HOMEOWNERS ROAD WIDENING IMPACT: Katherine Shaver of the Post reports that Maryland residents who want to see whether they might lose their home or part of a yard if the Capital Beltway or Interstate 270 is widened to accommodate new toll lanes can type their address into an online mapping tool that shows details of the traffic relief plan’s potential effects.

MARYLANDERS OPPOSE SEISMIC TESTING: Maryland officials have joined a host of congressmen in opposing the Trump administration’s plan to start underwater seismic testing along the Atlantic coast, operations that could lead to increased domestic production of oil and gas, but also could be harmful to marine animals, Jay Cannon of the Capital News Service reports.

MUSK DETAILS NEW HIGH-SPEED TRAVEL PLAN: Elon Musk, the electric-car pioneer, has offered a latest take on this plan for high-speed travel in the Northeastern corridor, Michael Laris of the Post reports. Musk detailed late Wednesday in a report considering environmental impacts, is to build two 35-mile tunnels from Washington to Baltimore that would carry autonomous Teslas or their corporate cousins at 150 mph, on rubber tires, getting from city to city in about 15 minutes.

MD LAWMAKERS ON BARR, MUELLER REPORT: Robert Mueller’s report represents “only part of the story” of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to Maryland lawmakers who say Congress must now question the special counsel and subpoena his report, minus the redactions. “We must continue to follow the facts,” said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, who is a former assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore County.

  • You’ll have to scroll down to find the reaction from Maryland lawmakers in this Maryland Matters article by Robin Bravender and Danielle Gaines “After Barr’s press conference, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) wrote on Facebook, ‘That was quite a spin job from Attorney General Barr on a report he has allowed no one but the White House to read so far. Just like when I questioned him under oath, he wanted to make it clear that he believes President Trump wasn’t guilty of obstruction of justice — but refuses to give us the facts to back that up.’ “

ANOTHER PUGH AIDE PUT ON LEAVE: Baltimore’s acting mayor has put another aide to Democratic Mayor Catherine Pugh on paid leave, according to sources familiar with the move, adding to the number of her staff members now not currently on the job. Ian Duncan of the Sun writes that the aide is Stephanie Hall, who is on the staff of the Baltimore Women’s Commission, three City Hall sources said Thursday. She is a former campaign chairwoman for Pugh.

ARUNDEL EXEC SAYS NO TO SPORTS COMPLEX: Thanks, but no thanks. That’s essentially what Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a March 22 letter to the sports group proposing a large sports complex at the former Crownsville Hospital site, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital report.

WESTMINSTER CONSIDERS PLASTIC BAG BAN: Catalina Righter of the Carroll County Times reports that the Westminster Common Council is set to vote on a proposal to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags in the city after a public hearing Wednesday. If passed, the ordinance would make Westminster the third municipality in Maryland to impose a bag ban, after Chestertown and Takoma Park. The General Assembly this year passed a bill allowing Howard County lawmakers to charge up to 5 cents per disposable bag. Montgomery County was the first in Maryland to institute a bag fee in 2012.

KENSINGTON MULLS LOWERING VOTING AGE: Kensington is considering amending its town charter to allow 16- and 17-year-old residents to vote in local elections. Town council member Darin Bartram said the idea was proposed by Miles Carr, the son of state Del. Al Carr, a Democrat who represents Kensington, Dan Schere reports in Bethesda Beat.