State Roundup, June 18, 2019

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RECONSTITUTED HANDGUN BOARD MEETS: Four of five members of the Handgun Permit Review Board are new, but that’s not all that’s changing for the embattled panel. In a small hearing room on Monday, the board’s new chairman, retired federal Judge Frederic Smalkin, sought to reassure a crowd of 30 or so people that the board will move forward with a backlog of appeals requests and will do so with a new, shared understanding of applicable law, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes.

ABELL REPORT DECRIES CHILD SUPPORT POLICY: Yvonne Wenger of the Sun reports that an Abell Foundation report released today show that decades of policy designed around setting high child support orders — and using tough enforcement tools to collect payments — has done more harm than good for low-income Maryland families, destabilized communities and trapped many men in a cycle of debt they cannot escape.

FENCED-OFF FUNDS, POSSIBLE STANDOFF WITH HOGAN: Hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid could be in jeopardy as Gov. Larry Hogan considers whether he will release money set aside by the General Assembly, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. The legislature fenced off the money earlier this year — effectively barring Hogan from spending it on anything other than the purposes for which it was reserved. One top Democrat said lawmakers restricted the money as a way of ensuring their priorities received attention.

FROSH WARNS ON MEDICAL RECORDS CYBERATTACK: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh warns Marylanders that their medical and other private information may have been compromised by a cyberattack against American Medical Collection Agency, the AP is reporting. AMCA is a third party collection agency for laboratories, hospitals, physician groups, medical providers and others.

BSO LOCKOUT, PROTESTS CONTINUE: Mary Carole McCauley of the Sun reports that the bitter labor dispute exacerbated by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s financial crisis erupted this week into a lockout. It was the first work stoppage at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in three decades. Sunday’s decision by the orchestra’s board of trustees locking out the players was not unexpected.

OPINION: BSO CAN EMERGE STRONGER: The editorial board of the Sun opines that the BSO board’s decision Sunday night to lock out the musicians during their lengthy and increasingly bitter contract dispute is unfortunate but not exactly unexpected. There have been at least a dozen lockouts or strikes at major U.S. orchestras in the last decade, and the issues at play in Baltimore echo through all those other cities’ struggles. Other orchestras have emerged from these troubles stronger than they were before. The BSO can, too.

OPINION: DOES HOGAN HATE BALTIMORE? In a column for his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascover ponders whether Gov. Hogan hates Baltimore City, writing that having already killed Baltimore City’s long-anticipated and badly needed $4 billion east-west subway line — thus forfeiting $1 billion of appropriated federal funds — is Gov. Larry Hogan now helping kill Baltimore’s world-class symphony orchestra? What does this governor have against Charm City?

GARDNER SURPRISED BY I-270 FLIP: Watching the livestream of the Maryland Board of Public Works meeting earlier this month, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner (D) was surprised to see the three-member panel pivot, seemingly on a dime, on plans to widen one of the largest highways in her jurisdiction, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. “I didn’t see that one coming,” she said in an interview on Monday. “I was very surprised when these projects were flipped.”

PROBE FINDS EVANS VIOLATED METRO ETHICS CODE: Metro board chairman Jack Evans violated the panel’s ethics code in numerous instances, a law firm retained by the board to investigate him found, including in his dealings with two private companies and a 2018 business plan he used to seek a job, Robert McCartney reports in the Post.

JUDGE HARRELL’s ‘NEW CHALLENGE’ ON UMMS BOARD: Steve Lash of the Daily Record writes that retired Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. said Monday that he had been looking for “a new challenge” when Gov. Larry Hogan appointed him last week to a reconstituted University of Maryland Medical System board recently beset by allegations of sweetheart business deals between now-former board members and the hospital network. “I opened my big mouth and somebody called me on it,” Harrell said of his appointment. He is among 11 newly named UMMS board members.

CITY-COUNTY WATER AGREEMENT TO BE REVIEWED: In a joint release put out today by the offices of Baltimore Mayor Jack Young and Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, the leaders said their administrations will conduct a “comprehensive review” of the water system, signed in 1972 for water service and 1974 for sewer service. The city administers water bills for households and businesses on both sides of the city-county line, while the county bills its own residents and businesses for sewer service, Ethan McLeod of Baltimore Fishbowl reports.