State Roundup, June 28, 2019

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SUPREME COURT STAYS OUT OF MD REDISTRICTING: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that federal courts are not the appropriate venue to resolve allegations of partisan gerrymandering, reports Luke Broadwater of the Sun with four takeaways. Advocates for fair elections warned the decision could bolster partisan manipulating of voting districts.

  • The ruling maintains the status quo in Carroll County, reports Leah Brennan in the Carroll County Times. For the county that’s long been sliced up and included in districts that cross county lines, the decision comes as a disappointment for many area representatives.
  • The chairman of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, and one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Herald-Mail that it was a “sad day for free and fair elections,” reports Tamela Baker.
  • Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said redistricting is a political question that must be left to elected representatives, Steve Lash reports for The Daily Record.
  • A political science professor weighs in that Gov. Larry Hogan can use the bully pulpit and his own commission to attempt to shame if not pressure Democrats to change, reports TDR’s Bryan P. Sears on the outcome of the decision for Maryland. “He can present his own maps with clear lines that ignore incumbents and party registration and then let the General Assembly offer up their own that looks like they gave a 4-year-old caffeine and a crayon and said ‘create a map,‘” said Todd Eberly.
  • The shape of U.S. Rep. David Trone’s congressional district in Maryland was the subject of one of the cases decided Thursday by the Supreme Court. And while the court went seemingly in Democrat Trone’s favor, the congressman told WTOP Thursday afternoon that it was still the wrong decision, reports Rick Massimo.
  • The court ruling means that the General Assembly will not meet in a special session this year to create a new map for the 2020 congressional elections, reports Robin Bravender and Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.. But the issue of how congressional and legislative boundaries are created in Maryland will continue to be a political battle for the next few years, at least.
  • Dan Schere in Bethesda Beat reported that the Montgomery County congressman, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a constitutional law scholar, wrote that the decision by conservative justices was “predictable” and called for Senate action.
  • The Supreme Court rulings were one topic on the Yuripzy Morgan Podcast for WBAL Talk Radio.

ANNAPOLIS ANNIVERSARY: Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley hosted the Safe Cities Summit Thursday in response to the June 28 mass shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom and other bursts of violence throughout the city, reports Lauren Lumpkin for the Capital Gazette.

  • The fear is there but abating. One year later, the co-workers who were left behind — especially those who were in the office, for whom images of the shooter and the ensuing carnage are seared forever into their psyches — wrestle with the tragedy, reports Chris Kaltenbach for the Sun. 
  • At a time when journalists are being vilified as “the enemy of the people,” staff members at the Capital Gazette newspaper are feeling the embrace of a grateful community, writes AP’s Brian Witte. Reporters who survived the worst attack on journalists in U.S. history say the trauma has not faded, but their connection with their readers is a source of comfort and inspiration.
  • As the criminal proceedings against the accused gunman continue, the community is preparing to mark today’s somber one-year anniversary, reports Kate Amara for WBALTV.
  • WYPR’s Emily Sullivan talked to four journalists from the paper about the shooting’s first anniversary

PIMLICO NEGOTIATING: The Maryland Jockey Club said Thursday it would devise and submit a capital construction plan to detail racetrack renovations that have already received public subsidies, reports Doug Donovan in the Sun. The plan is coming even though horse racing regulators never approved a spending blueprint as required by state regulations.

  • In a move that was instantly hailed as a “seminal moment” for Maryland’s horse industry, the company that owns the Preakness Stakes and the state’s two most high-profile tracks announced on Thursday that it has entered a new phase of negotiations to keep the race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.
  • A negotiating team made up of Baltimore City officials and the owners of Pimlico Race Course have been talking almost daily about how they can come to an agreement over the future of the 149-year-old track, the Preakness Stakes and Maryland’s horse racing industry, reports Holden Wilen for the Baltimore Business Journal.

PORTS PICKED FOR TOP MTA POST: Former Maryland delegate James F. Ports, who has twice served as deputy transportation secretary, was picked Thursday to lead the agency overseeing the state’s eight toll facilities and the E-ZPass Maryland system, reports Colin Campbell for the Sun.

  • The announcement Thursday comes more than two months after the agency’s former executive director was abruptly forced to resign, reports Bryan P. Sears in The Daily Record.

BORDER AID: Five Maryland Democrats joined Maryland’s lone Republican Rep. Andrew P. Harris in voting for$4.6 billion humanitarian aid package for the southern U.S. border that has already cleared the Senate, reports Robin Bravender in Maryland Matters. Democratic Reps. Anthony G. Brown and Jamie Raskin voted against it.

ICE PROTESTS IN BALTIMORE: Hundreds of Baltimore residents gathered to show support for immigrant communities and advocacy groups at the steps of the ICE field office in Hopkins Plaza, calling for the agency to leave the city, reports Oyin Adedoyin for the Sun.

  • Organizers say that in addition to calling for ICE to leave Baltimore, they wanted to show that immigrants are welcome in the city, reports Vanessa Herring on WBAL-TV.
  • Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Baltimore pushing for immigrants’ rights as the possibility of immigration raids looms, reports Kelsey Kushner for WJZ.

PENCE VISIT REACTION: Frederick County Sen. Michael Hough equated a state Republican dinner Monday night to a “campaign rally,” he describes the high energy from VP Pence’s visit to Maryland in Steve Bohnel’s Political Notes in the News-Post.

HANDGUN LICENSING: Two Maryland congressional members have introduced the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act to Congress, which would provide a federal grant program to states and local governments that enacted permit-to-purchase, reports Lyna Bentahar in The Sentinel. 

HOGAN ON MoCo EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS TOWERS: Larry Hogan criticized Montgomery County officials for their rejection of a site for a radio communications tower, reports Neal Earley for The Sentinel. Hogan said last week that the delay in implementing upgrades to its public safety communication system has risked the safety of residents in the county, after a public safety communication outage that occurred over Mother’s Day weekend.

KIRWAN FUNDING BENEFITS HARFORD: Harford County Public Schools teachers will receive a roughly 5% salary increase next year, thanks to additional funding coming to the school system through the state’s Kirwan Commission, reports David Anderson for the Sun.

CANNABIS IN CARROLL: Carroll County is slated to open its first medical cannabis dispensary in July, reports Leah Brennan in the Times.

FEDS SUBPOENA METRO RECORDS:  Metro has received two grand jury subpoenas as part of the federal investigation into Jack Evans, officials said Thursday, reports Robert McCartney in the Post.

SHOEMAKER JOINS FAMILY VIOLENCE COUNCIL: With 27 years of practicing law under his belt, Del. Haven Shoemaker is the latest addition to the Governor’s Family Violence Council, which seeks to provide recommendations to reduce and eliminate abusive behaviors, writes Mary Grace Keller of The Carroll County Times.