State Roundup, April 30, 2019

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MOST OF BLACK CAUCUS UNITES BEHIND DAVIS: A group of Maryland’s black lawmakers announced Monday that it is backing Del. Dereck Davis to become speaker of the House of Delegates — the latest move in what’s becoming an increasingly heated campaign to replace the late Speaker Michael Busch among two of his top lieutenants, Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report. But two members of the caucus have agreed that chairman Darryl Barnes had said, “We are going to let a white lesbian be the speaker of the house” if they supported Maggie McIntosh.

OPINION: FRACTURE AIDS REPUBLICANS: In an op-ed for Maryland Matters, freshmen Dels. Melissa Wells and Vaughn Stewart warn House Democrats of the fracture that could put House Republicans on the side of the Black Caucus in electing a new speaker, writing that publicly, “Republican officials are waxing bipartisan and issuing paeans to civility. Privately, they are exchanging high fives as they approach a rare triumph that would make Lee Atwater and Karl Rove proud.”

HOGAN TO SIGN UMMS REFORM: Gov. Larry Hogan will sign dozens more bills into law during a ceremony in Annapolis today. One bill set to get the governor’s signature will require reforms at the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, which was spurred by last summer’s death of student-athlete Jordan McNair after the former McDonogh School player collapsed at a University of Maryland Terrapins football practice. The board will be expanded and required to livestream its meetings, record votes and accept public comment at meetings.

HIGHWAY PLAN ALARMS RESIDENTS: Two weeks since the map showing possible toll lane designs along the Capital Beltway and I-270 was released, the potential impacts have begun to sink in and, in some cases, raise alarm. The Maryland State Highway Administration plan to relieve traffic on the notoriously congested Beltway would add four toll lanes and could require destroying 34 homes and four businesses, Katherine Shaver reports in the Post.

QUESTIONS OVER BAY RESTORATION, STORMWATER PERMITS: By the end of the year, Frederick County’s state-mandated stormwater permit will have reached the end of its life cycle and the county will be waiting for the Maryland Department of the Environment to issue a new one. As Maryland completes a planning document with broader goals to restore the Chesapeake Bay, however, the state’s largest jurisdictions — including Frederick County — are trying to determine the compatibility between the plan and the pending permits, writes Samantha Hogan for the Frederick News-Post.

NEW HEAD OF STATE CORRECTIONS: Montgomery County’s head of corrections is leaving to run the state’s correctional department, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Monday. Jennifer Barrios of the Post writes that Robert L. Green has headed the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation since 2014. He will leave May 12 to become secretary of the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, replacing Mike Zeigler, who has served as acting secretary since March.

SOME PUGH DONORS WANT MONEY BACK: By the end of January, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh had amassed nearly $1 million in her bid to be elected to a second term. Since the news broke of the sale of $800,000 worth of her “Healthy Holly” books, she has been engulfed by spreading federal and state criminal investigations into her business dealings. Now, some donors say they would like their money back and campaign officials say they are exploring how they could issue refunds, Liz Bowie and Luke Broadwater of the Sun report.

DEM MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Days after federal agents in blue jackets emblazoned with FBI and IRS searched Baltimore’s City Hall, a man in very short red OP shorts stood across from the building and said he’s serious about being the next mayor. Will Bauer, a/k/a “Lou Catteli,” known for riding a tricycle around Hampden, for his omnipresent large sunglasses and for wearing a jacket during the winter with fur designed to make him look like The Star Wars character Chewbacca, insisted his campaign for mayor is not a joke, Adam Bednar reports for the Daily Record.

INSURER DISPUTED PUGH UMMS TALE: When Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh defended selling her “Healthy Holly” books to the University of Maryland Medical System, she made one specific claim that touched off concern at City Hall, report Doug Donovan, Talia Richman and Jean Marbella of Sun. Pugh told the Sun on March 20 that she had not sold her books beyond those she provided to UMMS, which paid her $500,000 over several years for 100,000 copies. There was a problem with that statement, an official with health insurer Kaiser Permanente warned a top Pugh aide. It was not true.

TWO MORE PUGH AIDES LEAVE: Ian Duncan of the Sun reports that two top aides to Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh who had been placed on leave by the acting mayor no longer work for the city. Lester Davis, a spokesman for acting Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, said Karen Stokes, the city’s top lobbyist, and Bruce Williams, the chief of staff in the mayor’s office, were no longer employed by city government.

CITY COUNCIL PUSHES REFORMS: Mayor Catherine Pugh’s legal troubles have emboldened City Council members to push for the most striking reforms to Baltimore’s government since the Progressive Era, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports.

FBI ‘CORRUPTION TIPS’ CALLED A COINCIDENCE: Phil Davis of the Sun reports that the FBI wants any and all tips related to public corruption in Baltimore and a spokesman said a billboard and corresponding social media posts are not tied to the fact their agents were seen raiding the home and offices of embattled Mayor Catherine Pugh last week