State Roundup, June 12, 2019

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HOGAN PUSHES FOR TUBMAN $20: Gov. Larry Hogan is urging the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to delay putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. In a letter Tuesday to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Hogan wrote he was “incredibly disappointed” Tubman won’t be on the $20 next year.

FATAL OVERDOSES DOWN: Fewer people died of heroin and fentanyl in Maryland in the first quarter of 2019 than during the same period the previous year, preliminary data shows, marking the state’s first decline in fatal opioid overdoses in a decade, Erin Cox of the Post reports. Though the data represents a 14% decline, or 85 fewer deaths, Maryland public health officials were quick to point out that the opioid epidemic continues at a historic pace, killing more than 500 people in the first three months of this year.

STATE TO RAZE CITY DETENTION CENTER: Maryland officials are looking to move forward with a $27.5 million plan to demolish nearly 40 structures that make up a swath of the closed Baltimore City Detention Center, Lillian Reed of the Sun reports. Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services is asking for approval to demolish 16 major structures and 23 minor structures, according to a state Board of Public Works agenda for June 19. Some buildings were also part of the Metropolitan Transition Center, formerly known as the Maryland Penitentiary, the agenda states.

HOGAN ASKS HOYER HELP IN REDISTRICTING REFORM: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is reaching out to a powerful Democrat in Congress — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland — for help with redistricting reform, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports. In a letter to the lawmaker on Tuesday, Hogan recounts his years-long push to get the General Assembly to “eliminate gerrymandering and restore fairness in our electoral system.”

OPINION: THE BAD NEWS ABOUT HOGAN’s 2024 RUN: In a column for his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar opines that the “good news for Marylanders is that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan isn’t running for president against Donald Trump in 2020. He doesn’t have to take time away from his duties in the Free State over the next year.” However, the bad news is that “Hogan is positioning himself for a possible presidential run in 2024. … he’ll have to tilt sharply to the right, despite governing in a left-leaning state.”

CLIMATE CHANGE PART 3: HEAT & HOT WATER: In Part 3 of the series on Bitter Cold: Climate Change, Public Health and Baltimore, Ian Round and Leah Brennan of Capital News Service write that “Keeping the cold out of old Baltimore rowhouses is tough — and expensive, even for homeowners with good jobs. For lower-income residents, paying for needed repairs can eat into funds set aside for heat and hot water. And for people coping with illness, cold weather just compounds their problems.” The series appears in MarylandReporter.

WATER RATES IMPACT AFRICAN-AMERICANS: A new study on race and water affordability, which focuses part of its findings in Baltimore, suggests African Americans are disproportionately negatively affected by rising water bills and concludes by urging city leaders to pass new legislation to address the issue, Brittany Brown of the Sun reports.

WA CO AIDED BY STATE OPEN SPACE FUNDS: Helping Funkstown pay off a $1 million loan for expanded parkland and providing money for Clear Spring to acquire flood-damaged land for a park are among Washington County’s plans for Program Open Space funds. The county commissioners unanimously approved its annual program for state open-space funds last week. The applicants, including several towns, still need to apply for the money after July 1, Julie Green reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

BA CO PUBLISHES INTERACTIVE BUDGET DATA: Baltimore County officials on Monday published an interactive budget platform online, where anyone can view information about the county’s budget, Cody Boteler of the Catonsville Times reports. In an emailed statement, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said, “The open budget platform provides an unprecedented level of transparency to Baltimore County’s budget process.”

BA CO SCHOOLS TO START AFTER LABOR DAY: Public schools in Baltimore County will begin after Labor Day and end a little later next school year, the school board decided Tuesday night. Liz Bowie of the Sun is reporting. The vote to adjust the school calendar requires students to begin school one day after Labor Day and end as late as Friday, June 19, 2020, if there are five or more bad weather days. Spring break would be from Saturday, April 4, to Tuesday, April 14.

ALSOBROOKS CALLS ON PG RESIDENTS TO BE PROUD: Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks used her first State of the County address Tuesday to rebuke those who would malign the majority-black suburb, including a state delegate who this year used the n-word to describe it, and call on residents to be proud of their home, Rachel Chason of the Post is reporting.

HOLLY BOOKS DROPPED AT MD BOOK BANK: From time to time over the past few months, employees at the Maryland Book Bank have found a trash bag waiting for them on their loading dock in Woodberry — each one stuffed with “Healthy Holly” books. “Every time they’ve come in, it’s never been just five or six” books, said Kim Crout, the nonprofit organization’s program manager. “It’s always been a trash bag of 20 or 30, and they’re always just left here when we get in.”

MD DEMS BLAST WHITE HOUSE OVER NON-COOPERATION: The U.S. House on Tuesday approved Democrats’ measure to make it easier for lawmakers to take legal action against Trump administration officials who defy congressional subpoenas. Robin Bravender of Maryland Matters reports that ahead of the vote, Maryland Democrats blasted the White House for its refusal to cooperate with House Democrats’ oversight requests. “The Trump administration is engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “It’s not just about Russia, it is so much broader than that.”