State Roundup, June 24, 2019

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LAPSED TAX CREDIT: When Avendui Lacovara, a Baltimore real estate agent, heard the General Assembly did not renew a property tax credit for newly constructed homes in the city in this past session, she called her city councilman and developers to see what could be done. To the dismay of Lacovara and many in the city’s development community, the 23-year-old program will expire on June 30 for the upcoming fiscal year after members of the legislature discovered too late in the session that the program needed to be renewed, Juliana Kim of the Sun reports.

MEMORIAL TO SLAIN CAPITAL GAZETTE JOURNALISTS: Tribune Publishing Chairman David Dreier announced Sunday the creation of a foundation that plans to build a memorial to fallen journalists in Washington, D.C., Jennifer Bade reports in the Sun. The announcement comes the week of the anniversary of one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in U.S. history. Last June 28, a gunman entered the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, killing Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. Tribune owns Baltimore Sun Media, the Capital’s parent company.

OPINION: ZIRKIN A BAD POLITICAL ACTOR: In an op-ed in the Capital Gazette, Andrea Chamblee, John McNamara’s widow who has been an advocate for gun control in the year since her husband’s murder, calls out state Sen. Bobby Zirkin, writing that he “represents everything bad about politics. He used scheduling tricks to prevent votes on the Death with Dignity Act in 2016, the Trust Act in 2017, and last session’s bill that would have required background checks for every gun sale.”

CREDIT FOR EVANS’ RESIGNATION: Gov. Larry Hogan’s persistent criticism of Jack Evans, board chair of the Washington, D.C., area’s transit agency, finally paid off, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. Evans, a member of the D.C. City Council, announced on Thursday he will step down from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency board, effective next week. Hogan has raised questions about Evans’ leadership for most of his tenure in office.

  • During one of the episodes underpinning the scandal that enveloped D.C. Council member Jack Evans over the past week, he wrote in an email: “To me, where there’s smoke, there’s often fire.” It was 2017, and Evans was talking about a parking company that did business with Metro, for which Evans served as board chairman. Steve Thompson of the Post reports that he was demanding a renewed investigation into procurements involving LAZ Parking, one of the nation’s largest parking management companies. Evans didn’t mention, nor did he disclose to Metro’s board, that he had recently been hired at $50,000 a year by one of LAZ’s biggest competitors in the region.

COUNTIES ACCOMMODATE FARM BREWERIES: Across much of Maryland, the growing popularity of small, very local, typically farm-based breweries has prompted county officials to consider loosening, or at least altering, their zoning regulations to accommodate these businesses, Pete Pichaske reports for the Daily Record.

OPINION: HOGAN DOESN’T HATE B’MORE: In a column for Maryland Policy, Marta Hummel Mossburg and Carol Park write that, the answer to Barry Rascovar’s June 17 column, “Does Hogan Hate Baltimore?” is a resounding “no.” The question is laughable on the merits as it seeks to blame the Republican governor for a myriad of ills created by decades of mismanagement by the city’s leadership.

FEAR IN IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES OVER ICE RAIDS: President Trump’s decision to postpone the mass arrests of immigrant families with deportation orders offered a two-week reprieve to shaken cities and towns Sunday, but faith and immigration leaders said they will continue to mobilize for roundups in case talks between the White House and congressional Democrats break down, Washington Post staff is reporting in this nationwide story.

  • Trump’s tweet that the United States will deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants had local immigration advocates seeking to delicately educate potential targets about their rights without creating panic. Advocates and Democratic members of the state’s congressional delegation worry that families fearful of arrest will stay home, missing doctor’s appointments, school, work and shopping for basic supplies. “There’s obviously a humanitarian issue,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, Jeff Barker and Thalia Juarez report in the Sun.
  • The Rev. Bruce Lewandowski was unlocking the doors of Sacred Heart of Mary Church for the first services early Sunday morning when he noticed a family of immigrants in a van outside. The pastor greeted them: “You’re here early for church.” Lewandowski said they replied, “‘We stayed here all night. We slept in our van because we don’t know where to go.’” The two-week delay of the raids to allow Congress to work on immigration reforms did little to calm the neighborhood’s nerves, Colin Campbell reports in the Sun.

BSO STANDOFF CONTINUES: It appears the labor battle between the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and its musicians is no closer to reaching a resolution, Brandon Weigel of Baltimore Fishbowl reports. Baltimore Symphony Musicians, a group representing the orchestra’s players, blasted management Friday afternoon for keeping its “draconian” demands to cut the concert schedule by 20% during a federally mediated bargaining session today.

 NEW EXEC DIRECTOR OF MD GOP: Corine Frank, the vice chairwoman of the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee, has been appointed the new executive director of the Maryland GOP, starting next month, Doug Donovan for the Sun reports. Frank — a candidate for the county school board, a PTA leader and a married mother of two — is to take the job at the Maryland Republican Party after executive director Patrick O’Keefe departs in mid-July for a position at an online fundraising company.

CONGRESSMEN SEEK TO BLOCK CYBERATTACKS: It’s been almost seven weeks since a cyberattack crippled Baltimore City’s computer system. Now, as the FBI continues its investigation and the city struggles to put it all back together, members of Maryland’s congressional delegation are looking at ways to prevent future attacks from creating the same damage, Vaughn Golden reports for WYPR-FM.

LAWMAKERS ON TRUMP’s IRAN PULL-BACK: Jeff Barker of the Sun compiles reaction from Maryland lawmakers to President Trump’s decision Friday that U.S. forces would not carry out a planned retaliation against Iran for what the American military says was that country’s shooting down a drone.

DINING DIN & THE HEARING DISABLED: In an article for the Post, Joyce Cohen writes that under Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act, restaurants — as places of public accommodation — must accommodate disabilities. But what if the disability is a hearing impairment, and the request is for a lower volume? On this issue, the law has largely remained silent.

COLUMBIA’s 1st OFFICE BUILDING RAZED: With wrecking ball swinging and clouds of dust flying, Columbia’s first high-rise office building, the 52-year-old American Cities Building, is being demolished to make way for the next phase of the town’s urban core, writes Len Lazarick for MarylandReporter.

SUPREMES PONDER GERRYMANDERING: The Supreme Court enters its final week of decisions with two politically charged issues unresolved, whether to allow a citizenship question on the 2020 census and rein in political line-drawing for partisan gain, which stems from cases in Maryland and North Carolina, Mark Sherman reports for the AP. In those cases, lower courts found that Republicans in North Carolina and Democrats in Maryland went too far in drawing congressional districts to benefit their party at the expense of the other party’s voters.

MO CO COUNCIL PUSHES NEW EMERGENCY SYSTEM: All nine members of the Montgomery County Council signed a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich Friday afternoon urging him to replace Montgomery’s aging emergency communication system by fall 2020, Caitlyn Peetz reports for Bethesda Beat.

ATTORNEYS: POLICE ALTERED CAM FOOTAGE: Attorneys for the family of Anton Black, the 19-year-old African American from Caroline County, who died in police custody last year, believe law enforcement officers altered the police body camera footage taken during Black’s arrest, Glynis Kazanjian of Maryland Matters is reporting.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE DEFENDS BIDEN: Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake went on CNN on Thursday to defend Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden after his controversial remarks about working with segregationists senators, McKenna Oxenden reports in the Sun.

FRANCHOT’s FATHER DIES: Douglas W. Franchot Jr., a retired lawyer and father of Maryland Comptroller Peter W. Franchot, died Thursday morning of cardiovascular failure at his Riderwood Village retirement community home in Silver Spring, Fred Rasmussen writes in the Sun. “I just wanted to let everyone know that my father, Douglas Franchot, died peacefully this morning at the age of 97,” the comptroller wrote on Facebook. “I’m grateful and relieved that he was alert, in good spirits, and free of pain in the days leading up to his death.”