State Roundup, May 17, 2019

Print More

CARET TO STEP DOWN NEXT JUNE: After a year of public criticism and legislative rebukes of the University of Maryland System, Chancellor Robert L. Caret decided not to seek another five-year contract, and will leave his job in June 2020, Lillian Reed of the Sun writes. When Caret arrived to head the 12-campus system in 2015, he was returning to familiar turf — he had been president of Towson University — and he was praised by a cadre of academics and politicians.

BUSINESS TIES WITH UMMS AFFILIATES, BOARDS: State officials outraged by self-dealing contracts between the University of Maryland Medical System and its board members are calling on the health network’s affiliate hospitals to reform their board practices, as well, after a Baltimore Sun investigation revealed similar business ties, Doug Donovan and Kevin Rector of the Sun report.

FRANCHOT PONDERS ACTION ON ALABAMA: Comptroller Peter Franchot is asking officials to review whether the state’s pension system has investments in Alabama, which just enacted a law that bans almost all abortions, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Franchot, a Democrat, noted in a Facebook post on Thursday that he can’t control Alabama lawmakers “who choose to weaponize their system of laws to punish women who are already experiencing great vulnerability.” “However,” he continued, “I can work to ensure that Maryland’s taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize extremism.”

SPEAKER JONES A QUIET LEADER: In the Maryland House of Delegates chamber in Annapolis, portraits of 11 past speakers hang on the walls. Most of them grasp the speaker’s wooden gavel. A few hold law books. All of them are white men. Now an African American woman from Baltimore County has joined the ranks of those presiding over the General Assembly’s lower chamber. Adrienne Jones has been celebrated for breaking barriers since her selection this month, while also being praised for the quiet, but firm, leadership that landed her the role, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.

A DEM TRIES TO REACH ACROSS THE AISLE: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post profiles self-proclaimed conservative Democrat Katie Fry Hester, a first-term state senator from Howard County who is struggling to govern from the middle and reach across the aisle to work with Republicans.

HENSON SWORN IN TO FILL BUSCH SEAT: During a ceremony Thursday at the State House, Del. Shaneka Henson was sworn into her position as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Henson, a Democrat from Annapolis, was nominated by party leaders to fill a seat left vacant by the April death of longtime Democratic Speaker Michael Busch.

LABOR SECTY TARGETS BUSINESS FUNDAMENTALS: James Rzepkowski, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, had a few requests for employers who heard him speak in Hagerstown Thursday. He asked employers to make sure their job descriptions accurately describe the required skills and qualifications, Mike Lewis of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. He asked them to reconsider some blanket policies, such as banning ex-offenders from employment. And he asked them to continue working with government agencies, nonprofit organizations and schools and colleges to train workers and boost the economy

BUSINESSES BRACE FOR MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: In 2018, Maryland’s minimum wage came up to $10.10 an hour, after gradually increasing from the federal rate of $7.25. On the tails of this wage bump, state lawmakers passed into law during this year’s session another series of increases to bring the minimum wage up to $15 per hour by 2025. Now, Maryland business owners are bracing themselves for a tough road ahead as the minimum wage will go up in increments over five years, beginning in January 2020, Sara Swann of the Salisbury Daily Times reports..

FROSH CHARGES OXYCONTIN MAKER: Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) brought consumer protection charges Thursday against the manufacturer of OxyContin, saying members of the family that controls Purdue Pharma engaged in unfair and deceptive practices that hooked Marylanders on dangerous drugs, including thousands who died from opioid overdoses. The case was filed at the same time as four others in Iowa, Kansas, West Virginia and Wisconsin, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes.

ARUNDEL GUN VIOLENCE TASK FORCE KICKS OFF: The Anne Arundel County Gun Violence Prevention Task Force met for the first time Thursday at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts as gun sense and Second Amendment advocates looked on. County Executive Steuart Pittman created the task force in April and charged it with making recommendations to reduce gun violence throughout the county, Chase Cook of the Annapolis Capital reports.

ELRICH HOPES STATE POLICE ADOPT MO CO PROBE MODEL: Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said he wants state legislation that would require the state police to conduct an independent investigation of any officer-involved shooting in Maryland, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports. Elrich made the comment before signing a similar bill passed by the County Council that requires that the county partner with an outside agency to conduct investigations into officer-involved shootings.

RASKIN COULD BE ON IMPEACHMENT TEAM: If the U.S. House ultimately moves to impeach President Trump, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) could be on a team of Democrats that makes the case to the U.S. Senate to oust the president from the White House, reports Robin Bravender for Maryland Matters. It remains far from certain that House Democrats will attempt to go the impeachment route. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and many other Democrats in the caucus have been wary of that option, given the potential for political blowback.