State Roundup, May 22, 2019

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ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS, HUSBAND UNDER FIRE: The chair of the Maryland Democratic Party struck back Tuesday at a conservative watchdog organization that suggested her nonprofit agency violated its tax-exempt status, saying the allegation — and an article about it by a right-leaning publication — were attempts to silence her and her husband, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Jenna Portnoy and Ovetta Wiggins of the Post report.

CUMMINGS FRUSTRATED BY PRESIDENT’s ‘STONEWALLING:’ Maryland’s highest-ranking U.S. House members expressed growing frustration Tuesday at President Donald Trump’s “stonewalling” of Congress, but they continued to stop short of calling for an impeachment inquiry, Jeff Barker writes in the Sun. “I think what the president has done has put us in a position where we cannot get any information to do the oversight that we need to do,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said in a statement to the Baltimore Sun on Tuesday night, echoing an interview he gave on CNN.

CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTIONS UP SLIGHTLY: An audit of child support enforcement efforts in Maryland released Tuesday shows collections are up slightly, but non-custodial parents still owe a collective $1.3 billion in payments going back years, Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports. More than $565 million was collected in the fiscal year that ended in September 2017, according to the audit by the state Department of Legislative Services. The collections are up 1% from 2014, but the balance on unpaid orders saw “virtually no change.”

OPINION: DEL. IMPALLARIA’s SHAMEFUL SHAMELESSNESS: The editorial board of the Sun opines that Marryland’s Republican Party has finally put in a formal resolution for what has been apparent to anyone paying attention for the last 17 years: Rick Impallaria is “unworthy of the title Delegate.” We would have thought this was obvious before he was even elected, when The Sun reported on the charges of assault with the intent to murder he faced years earlier from an incident when he tried to run down his mother and brother with a car. … The Rick Impallarias of the world continue to act shamelessly because they think they can get away with it. All too often in this state, they’re right.

JUDGE DISMISSES JHU POLICE SUIT: A judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a decision by the Maryland State Board of Elections that the law allowing Johns Hopkins University to establish a private police force could not be subject to referendum, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports.

ABORTION RIGHTS RALLIES: Abortion rights advocates and Baltimore residents gathered outside the War Memorial building Tuesday to rally against new laws restricting access to abortion in several states across the country. Phil Davis of the Sun writes that as the crowd of about 150 people gathered to listen to speakers from various organizations, their rallying cry stayed constant throughout. “Stop the bans!”

BAY HEALTH CONTINUES TO IMPROVE: Despite record rainfall washing pollution and debris into the Chesapeake Bay last year, the bay’s health continues to improve, Joel McCord reports for WYPR-FM. Sure, it took a little dip from its 2017 score, say scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, but it still maintained an overall “C,” which the scientists say is a sign of resilience in the nation’s largest estuary.

MONORAIL PRESENTATION: Robert O. Eisinger next month will deliver a presentation on using monorails to help overcome traffic congestion along the D.C. suburban highways to state Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, the man Gov. Larry Hogan is counting on to shepherd his plan to widen three major highways — Interstate 270, the Capital Beltway (I-495) and eventually the Baltimore-Washington Parkway — two lanes in each direction, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes.

GAS COMPANY SUES STATE OVER PIPELINE REJECTION: Missed from last Friday: A gas company has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Maryland after state officials unanimously rejected plans for a pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas through three miles of Western Maryland, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

OPINION: RECYCLE, DON’T BAN POLYSTYRENE FOAM: In this op-ed for Maryland Matters, Frank Liesman of Dart Container Corp. defends his company’s products – polystyrene food containers – against claims that the products are harmful to the environment and says that it is human behavior that is the problem. He also urges the state to look into recycling of such products and asks Gov. Hogan to veto the law that would ban his product’s use in Maryland establishments.

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday reported that 25 white-tailed deer in Allegany and Washington counties during 2018 tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a neurological infection found in deer and elk. The positive cases were among 561 samples collected in the state’s three most western counties, reports Teresa McMinn in the Cumberland Times News.

EXPERTS EXPLAIN ELLICOTT CITY’s VULNERABILITY: Howard County is pursuing a flood mitigation plan that could cost as much as $140 million to alleviate the situation. But experts say the mission to fully omit flooding in the town is impossible, Erin Logan writes in the Howard County Times. Historic Ellicott City is surrounded by granite and sits at the bottom of a valley next to the Patapsco River. And its site once made it a thriving mill town. But now, its natural geological conditions coupled with decades of urban development that frequently went without sufficient stormwater management regulation has exacerbated flooding, experts say

WHITE PASSED OVER FOR BA CO SUPERINTENDENT: A divided Baltimore County school board named a longtime Montgomery County administrator Tuesday night to be its next superintendent, passing over Verletta White, who had led the system for the past two years and sought the job, Liz Bowie reports for the Sun. Darryl L. Williams is an area associate superintendent for eight clusters of schools in Montgomery County, and oversees eight high schools, 15 middle schools and 44 elementary schools.

HERB SMITH ON POLITICS: In this 30-minute podcast, Dan Rodricks of the Sun talks with Herb Smith, longtime professor of politics, political pundit and author with former Secretary of State John Willis of “Maryland Politics and Government: Democratic Dominance.” Smith is about to retire and he reflects on American politics from the time of Eisenhower to Trump.

BEN CARSON: REO OR OREO? Former Baltimore surgeon and current HUD Secretary Ben Carson stumbled his way through a congressional hearing yesterday, mistaking REO – real estate organization – for the sandwich cookie Oreo – and attempting “reclaim his time” to speak, which since he is a witness, does not have the right to do, Colby Itkowitz of the Post reports. The videos are not to be missed.