State Roundup, June 26, 2019

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JULY 5 OFF MEANS MVA SCRAMBLES OVER REAL ID FIX: Amid the rush to bring Maryland drivers into MVA locations to ensure they comply with REAL ID license requirements, the offices are faced with an unexpected closure, with Gov. Hogan’s announced closing of state offices on July 5 for an extend Independence Day holiday, Christian Condon of the Sun reports. But that meant the MVA, which is scrambling to acquire the proper documentation from drivers who were issued REAL ID licenses without them, would face a one-day setback.

RACING PANEL DELAYS $4.4M REIMBURSEMENT TO STRONACH: A $4.4 million reimbursement request by the Stronach Group, owner of Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, has been put off for at least a month, an official with the Maryland Racing Commission said on Tuesday. Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that the commission was originally scheduled to vote this week on a request for funds from the Racing Facility Renewal Account following the company’s expenditure of funds to improve the Laurel track.

POT LEGALIZATION WORKGROUP MEETS: The General Assembly’s Marijuana Legalization Workgroup is under new management. The workgroup was set to have its debut meeting in Annapolis on Tuesday afternoon, and Senate President Mike Miller has named a new co-chair: State Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

RED LINE’s DEMISE STILL SMARTS: Four years ago Tuesday, Gov. Hogan (R) pulled the plug on the Red Line, a federally approved subway line in the Baltimore region that planners had been working on for more a decade. For Del. Robbyn T. Lewis (D-Baltimore City), the outrage is as fresh as if Hogan had just made the decision yesterday, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

STATE AGENCIES PUSHED ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Gov. Larry Hogan is directing two state agencies to develop an initiative to save energy in state-owned buildings, the AP reports. Hogan signed an executive order Tuesday for the Department of General Services and the Maryland Energy Administration.The administration says the goal of the initiative is to reduce energy consumption in state buildings by 10% by 2029.

HOWARD TOPS FOR HEALTHY SCHOOL FOOD: The healthiest school food in Maryland can be found in Howard County, according to Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters. The organization Healthy School Food Maryland has judged and scored school cafeteria offerings across the state since 2016. And Howard has found itself consistently at the top, gobbling up points when assessed for transparency in nutritional information, farm-to-school offerings, and availability of salads and fresh fruit.

OPINION: RASKIN & LGBTQ RIGHTS: In an op-ed for Maryland Matters, Dana Beyer of the civil rights organization Gender Rights Maryland, reflects on the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising this weekend, and writes about Maryland lawmakers who have stood behind LGBTQ rights including U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin. As a state senator, he “along with Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, were the passionate forces behind the Maryland gender identity bill as it slogged its way to passage from 2007 to 2014. Sen. Raskin began his first political campaign in 2006 telling everyone he stood for marriage equality because it was at the moral center even if not yet at the political center.”

PENCE MUM ON HOGAN: Vice President Pence mentioned U.S. Rep. Andy Harris three times. He said President Trump’s name nearly two dozen times. Even George Washington got a couple of mentions. But, reports Ovetta Wiggins in the Post, during his lengthy speech at the Maryland Republican Party’s annual Red, White and Blue dinner, Pence never uttered the name of Gov. Larry Hogan, the popular GOP chief executive who has often criticized the Trump administration and recently decided against a launching a primary challenge. [Editor’s Note: Wiggins was the only Maryland-based reporter given access to the Pence speech. MarylandReporter.com was allowed in the room after Pence left.]

HOUSE OKs RISE IN BAY FUNDING: The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to increase federal funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, but it’s unclear if or when the Senate will follow suit, Scott Dance of the Sun is reporting. The Democratic majority in the House passed an Environmental Protection Agency budget that includes $85 million for the federal Chesapeake Bay Program in fiscal year 2020, up from its current funding level of $73 million.

CENSUS SUIT RETURNED TO MD FEDERAL COURT: A lawsuit that alleges a 2020 census question pushed by the Trump administration violates minorities’ rights will be sent back to a federal court in Maryland so new evidence can be considered, U.S. appeals judges ruled Tuesday in Baltimore, David McFadden of the AP is reporting.

FBI HQ CONCERN PROMPTS SENATE PANEL TO DROP FUND REQUEST: A Senate oversight committee has declined to consider a pair of funding requests from the federal government’s main civilian real estate arm due to concerns the agency will spend some of that money to build a new FBI headquarters in downtown D.C. rather than an alternate location in Greater Washington, including in Maryland, Daniel Sernovitz reports for the Washington Business Journal.

JUDGE CLEARS WAY FOR DEM EMOLUMENTS SUIT: A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday cleared the way for nearly 200 Democrats in Congress to continue their lawsuit against President Donald Trump, alleging that his private business violates an anti-corruption provision of the Constitution, Post staff is reporting. In a second emoluments case, brought by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland, a federal judge also denied the Trump administration’s request for an immediate appeal.

ARUNDEL TO DONATE TO JOURNO MEMORIAL: Anne Arundel County committed Tuesday to contribute funding for the press freedom memorial in Annapolis, Naomi Harris of the Annapolis Capital reports. The Caucus of African American Leaders, which is organizing the memorial in response to the June 28 shooting at the Capital Gazette newsroom, had requested county support in an April meeting with County Executive Steuart Pittman and other staff.

CITY MULLS PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING RULES: Emily Sullivan of WYPR-FM reports that last fall, Baltimore voters approved a public financing fund for elections throughout the city. Now, the City Council is considering a bill that spells out the rules and regulations for that fund. The bill, whose proponents say aims to give candidates who don’t receive hefty checks from corporations a fighting chance, would give qualifying mayoral campaigns up to $1.7 million each in taxpayer money. To qualify, candidates cannot accept donations larger than $150.