State Roundup, May 28, 2019

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HOGAN VETOES EIGHT BILLS: Gov. Larry Hogan announced Friday that he’s vetoing a bill that would have dissolved the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board, while allowing another measure to become law that creates a first-in-the-nation statewide ban on foam food and drink containers, Pamela Wood writes in the Sun.

10 BILLS HOGAN ALLOWED TO BECOME LAW: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes about 10 bills among many that Gov. Hogan allowed to become law without his signature, including one to expand food stamp benefits through the summer months to students who rely on free meals from their schools and another to provide funding for legal representation for students at state colleges and universities who believe campus sexual assault policies have been violated.

ADENOVIRUS ALERT: At least one Maryland lawmaker plans to introduce legislation that could require more disclosure during a potential adenovirus outbreak, Tim Curtis reports in the Daily Record. Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk’s potential bill comes after reporting on the death of a University of Maryland, College Park student suggested she could have lived if her health care providers had known to look for the adenovirus.

DOCTORS SEEK REMOVAL FROM PHARMA SUITS: Local doctors caught up in litigation against opioid manufacturers and distributors lack both the massive legal teams and vast potential resources of their co-defendants, and they are asking judges to dismiss them from the complex lawsuits where their alleged wrongdoing is barely mentioned, Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports. Fourteen Maryland counties and 10 cities have filed lawsuits against companies like Purdue Pharma since last year, accusing them of engaging in a scheme to deceptively market the drugs and flood the market, contributing to an addiction crisis.

DELEGATE CRITICIZED FOR ‘HATEFUL’ FB POST: A state delegate from Baltimore County is drawing criticism for a Facebook comment aimed at county school officials — with a fellow delegate saying it evoked lynchings and the interim school superintendent calling it “hateful.” Kevin Rector and Colin Campbell of the Sun write that Del. Robin Grammer, a Republican, made the comment in a Facebook group called BCPS Parents & Teachers for Equitable Facilities & Portable AC, responding to a post there Friday by Michael Darenberg, a member of the Baltimore County School Board Nominating Commission.

IT’s NOT ALL ABOUT BEREANO: In a column for Maryland Matters, Josh Kurtz gently reminds freshmen lawmakers that the J. Millard Tawes Crab & Clam Bake in Crisfield isn’t the Bruce Bereano roadshow. Kurtz writes, “Bereano has earned the right to sponsor the event, invite whomever he wants, and try to make his tent the center of the action. He points out that he’s pumping a lot of money into the Crisfield economy. He hires local kids as runners and waiters. Good for him. Good for Crisfield. But is it good for democracy?”

ANOTHER UMMS RESIGNATION: The chief executive of University of Maryland Capital Region Health resigned Friday, saying she has accepted a new position in another state. It’s the latest leadership change to come in the wake of a self-dealing scandal on the main University of Maryland Medical System board, though a UMMS spokesman says the move is unconnected, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

POSSIBLE METRO LEADER RISES: The nominating committee hasn’t even met, but Paul Smedberg, a former Alexandria City Council member with transportation experience, has already emerged as the front-runner to succeed Jack Evans as chair of the Metro board, officials said Friday. The Post’s Robert McCartney reports that in another sign of significant changes to come on the Metro board, Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn said he will join the panel as a principal or voting member on July 1.

BGE SEEKS RATE HIKE: Regional utility Baltimore Gas and Electric has filed an application with the Maryland Public Service Commission to bump up its rates and bring in an additional $133 million—translating to roughly $8.53 more per month for the average household, Ethan McLeod of Baltimore Fishbowl reports.

MO CO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION SYSTEM BREAKDOWN: It was nearing the beginning of Mother’s Day weekend in Montgomery County when police dispatchers began hearing a strange noise over their radios. Instead of being able to communicate with officers, they heard a sound like a “bonk.” Then another “bonk.” The noises were the start of a 14-hour-long outage that disrupted communications through the aging system, which is used by police, fire, the sheriff’s department and others in the county of 1 million residents just outside Washington, Jennifer Barrios recounts for the Post.

ARUNDEL LIQUOR BOARD REFORMS IN OFFING: Sen. Bryan Simonaire said he and Sen. Pam Beidl plan to discuss potential reforms of the Anne Arundel liquor board during the next session of the General Assembly, Chase Cook is reporting in the Annapolis Capital. Those details aren’t finalized, but Simonaire mentioned potential term limits and/or increased membership.

CONTROVERSY OVER HO CO SCHOOL BUDGET: Howard County lawmakers are considering adding $8 million to the school system’s proposed operating budget to maintain class sizes and teacher jobs, among other things, Erin Logan of the Howard County Times reports. The move drew criticism from County Executive Calvin Ball. Earlier this year, Ball proposed a $605.2 million operating budget for the school system — $84 million less than the school board’s request.

VAN HOLLEN, DUTCH SEEK NSA BRIEFING: U..S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger are seeking briefings from the National Security Agency after a report that a spying tool developed by the agency and then leaked online was used to spread the ransomware that has debilitated Baltimore’s computer systems, Ian Duncan and Kevin Rector report for the Sun. And Council President Brandon Scott said the federal government should step in to cover some of the cost of Baltimore’s recovery.

SENATORS’ ‘EYES, EARS’ IN W. MD RETIRES: For more than 15 years, Julianna Albowicz presented more proclamations and letters than she can remember to deserving citizens of Western Maryland, Janet Heim of Hagerstown Herald Mail reports. At the news of her May 7 retirement, the tables were turned and she has been the recipient of numerous proclamations and gestures of appreciation. Albowicz’s work as the Western Maryland outreach director, first for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and most recently for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, has taken her all over the state.

PREZ HOPEFUL VISITS B’MORE: With his eye on the White House, California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell visited the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Ave. on Friday — Baltimore’s, that is, not Washington’s. The candidate, who announced his bid for president last month, met with community activists and nonprofit leaders at the Shake and Bake Family Fun Center in West Baltimore as part of a national listening tour on combating gun violence, Hallie Miller of the Sun reports.