State Roundup, May 20, 2019

Print More

STATE BEGINS UMMS AUDIT: A team of state auditors has begun a forensic audit of the University of Maryland Medical System, as mandated by state lawmakers in response to a self-dealing scandal that engulfed the system’s board of directors and leadership. Gregory Hook, head of the state’s Office of Legislative Audits, which state lawmakers charged with reviewing the hospital system’s books, said multiple auditors from his office were “on site” at UMMS as of Friday, Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.

HOGAN TAKES NEW TACK ON ROAD WIDENING: Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration is seeking input from transit advocates as it tries to move forward with a controversial plan to use toll lanes to widen the Capital Beltway and Interstate 270, Erin Cox of the Sun reports. The Managed Lanes Transit Workgroup will discuss how easing congestion on those overloaded arteries could ultimately connect transit riders with more options, the Maryland Department of Transportation said Friday.

FEWER FIREWORKS AT I-270 INFO SESSION: A Thursday night information session in Germantown on proposed toll lane expansion of Interstate 270 had fewer fireworks than previous public meetings in lower Montgomery County, but there was still skepticism from upcounty residents and commuters, Dan Schere reports in Bethesda Beat.

ONE SOLUTION: MONORAIL: Montgomery County developer Robert Eisinger says he has found a fast, reliable and cost-effective way to ease traffic on Interstate 270: Get tens of thousands of motorists traveling from the outer suburbs to switch to a monorail between Frederick and the Shady Grove Metro station, reports Katherine Shaver of the Post.

DELEGATE CRITICAL OF FRANCHOT OVER ALABAMA QUERY: After Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot asked officials to review whether the state’s pension system has investments in Alabama, Carroll County Del. Haven Shoemaker sent a letter to him decrying the move, Akira Kyles reports in the Carroll County Times. The letter from Shoemaker’s office urged Franchot to “quit playing partisan politics over the sovereign state of Alabama’s recent actions to abortion.”

JHU POLICE REFERENDUM: A judge could rule by the end of the month on whether a new law allowing Johns Hopkins University to establish a private police force can be subject to a referendum, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports. The ballot initiative group Women Against Private Police sued the Maryland State Board of Elections earlier this month after the board issued a preliminary determination that the law cannot be put on the ballot because it is an appropriation.

DEBT PUTS SOME MARYLANDERS IN JAIL: Brooks DuBose of Capital News Service reports that jailing a person for an unpaid debt has been illegal for almost two centuries in the United States. But in Maryland, through a roundabout court procedure, hundreds of people every year are jailed for essentially just that: Owing money. The article appears in MarylandReporter.

STATE GOP OKs RESOLUTION ASKING FOR DELEGATE’s RESIGNATION: The Maryland Republican Party adopted three resolutions during its convention in Ocean City on Saturday, including a controversial one introduced by Baltimore County Central Committee member Al Mendelsohn condemning Del. Rick Impallaria and demanding Impallaria’s resignation, Brian Griffiths writes for Red Maryland.

HOWARD CO SUES OPIOID MAKERS: Howard County became at least the 15th in the state to file suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors Friday, Heather Cobun writes for the Daily Record. The lawsuit was filed in Howard County Circuit Court and alleges companies such as Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, failed to disclose the risks of addiction and continued to tell doctors and consumers that opioids could safely be taken in higher doses over longer periods of time.

BA CO SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT ON OPIOID CRISIS: Baltimore County has the second highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in the state. Only Baltimore City has more. The county will begin reaching out to people, especially those who have personally been affected by opioids, to ask them what should be done. John Lee reports for WYPR-FM. County Executive Johnny Olszewski said there is a new online survey available.  “We want to hear from them about how the county’s doing in its efforts to address this crisis and where we can and need to do more,” Olszewski said.

OPINION: END PHARMA ADVERTISING: In a column for Maryland Matters, Frank DeFilippo opines that there’s a quick and easy cure for the opioid curse. Turn off the television sets. Better yet, outlaw all pharmaceutical advertising the way that government banned cigarette ads. But that seems a long way from happening in the best Congress that money can buy. In one year alone, the pill industry spent $880 million to fight laws to limit the availability of opioids OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl.

STATE ENTERTAINS AT PREAKNESS: Pamela Wood of the Sun lists businesses and politicians who were guests at the Maryland state government corporate tent at the 144th Preakness Stakes, which was set up to network with politicians and woo businesses. The tent was amid a line of corporate tents ringing the track at one end of the infield. Reporters weren’t allowed inside, but politicians and others streamed in and out all day.

STRONACH, CITY CONTINUE PIMLICO FIGHT: As the horses at Pimlico kicked up dirt and turf at Preakness on Saturday, the two sides jockeying to control the future of the storied event continued to sling mud, Doug Donovan of the Sun reports. Baltimore officials have accused Pimlico’s owner, The Stronach Group, of submitting inaccurate revenue figures to Maryland’s tax collector. And Stronach representatives have accused the city of peddling “faulty” calculations that could have been easily explained with a simple conversation.

OPINION: BALL’s FLOOD PLAN: The editorial board for the Sun, in backing Howard County Executive Calvin Ball’s flood mitigation plans for Ellicott City, opines that while it will be expensive and it won’t eliminate flooding in the lower part of Main Street, it ticks off all the boxes to be a workable and effective plan.

TALBOT GOP FORUM SET: The Republican Central Committee of Talbot County will host a public policy forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 24, in Easton. The forum is free and is open to the public. The Easton Star-Democrat reports that forum speakers will be U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, state Sen. Addie Eckardt, Del. Chris Adams and Ryan Snow from the office of Gov. Larry Hogan.

EX-EXEC HOPEFUL STARTS THINK TANK: Potomac businessman David Blair, who narrowly lost a primary bid for county executive, is starting a think tank studying a range of state and local issues in an effort to bridge the gap between “the haves and have-nots” across Maryland, Caitlynn Peetz writes in Bethesda Beat.

CUMMINGS URGES MORGAN GRADS TO DEFEND DEMOCRACY: At Morgan State University’s spring commencement ceremony Saturday, Maryland U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings urged the graduates to use their freshly minted degrees and talents to defend and promote democracy in its “hour of peril,” Hallie Miller of the Sun reports.

THE TRUTH ABOUT OLD BAY: To Marylanders, Old Bay is more than a seasoning: It’s a symbol of state pride. The yellow and blue tin with a red lid is tattooed on calves or placed in window sills along with a crab and decorative mallets. A T-shirt proclaims: “I put Old Bay on my Old Bay.” Yet the seasoning’s popularity belies a little-known truth: Cooks in restaurants and crab shacks rarely use Old Bay to steam crabs, report the Sun’s Christina Tkacik and Christine Zhang.