State Roundup, July 10, 2019

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BSO ON SHAKY FINANCIAL FOOTING: Will the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra survive in its current form? Until recently, that question would have been unthinkable about a 103-year-old arts group described as one of Baltimore’s crown jewels. But the BSO’s finances arguably are so unstable that members of the endowment trust supporting the symphony balk at lending or giving it even one penny more than the $6 million it has received this fiscal year, Mary Carole McCauley writes in the Sun.

SUMMERTIME HUNGER: About four of five Maryland school children who receive free and reduced price lunches during the school year may be going hungry this summer, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports. The state, like many others, struggles to feed lower income Maryland children through summertime meal programs. Even so, Maryland is performing better than much of the nation. Still, the issue is particularly important now, as Congress debates the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, which authorizes federal school meal and child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and others.

TEACHERS FLEX POLITICAL MUSCLE: In every corner of the state, seas of teachers sporting red shirts for their “Red for Ed” campaign are becoming visible at school board meetings, county council hearings, and on the news, Lisa Nevans Locke reports in Maryland Matters. Teachers unions have long been powerful political forces in big cities, an education historian said. But individual teachers are often reticent to become politically active, concerned that parents and school administrators might not approve, several teachers said.

ILLNESS SHUTS MANNED TOLL BOOTHS: Two confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease have forced the closure of an administration building and toll booths at the Harbor Tunnel facility. State transportation officials announced the closure Tuesday along with the move to automated toll collections, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

OPINION: DIVERSITY IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Jasmine Sessoms, CEO of medical marijuana firm Community Wellness LLC, writes in an op-ed in the Sun that as “a female and a minority, I have experienced my fair share of barriers when it comes to breaking through glass ceilings. Though diversity is something that is talked about in theory with vigor, it is not always implemented in practice with that same energy.” She writes about her business’s work to bring diversity into the field.

HOGAN TAPS AIDE FOR LABOR SECTY: Gov. Larry Hogan named Tiffany Robinson to be the next state labor secretary on Tuesday, Pamela Wood reports in the Sun. Robinson has served as the Republican governor’s deputy chief of staff, working on issues including labor, housing, education, human services and health, according to the governor’s office.

HOGAN JOINS GOVS OVER MILEAGE STANDARDS: Citing climate-damaging tailpipe emissions, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and 21 other U.S. governors signed a pledge backing California leaders in their showdown with the Trump administration over its plans to relax vehicle mileage standards, Ellen Knickmeyer of the AP reports. The stand by leaders of states and Puerto Rico, nearly all Democrats, comes as the Trump administration moves to freeze tougher mileage standards laid out by former President Barack Obama, in one of the previous administration’s key efforts against climate change.

A PARTY WITHOUT HOGAN? Nearly five years into Gov. Larry Hogan’s tenure, the Maryland Republican Party is still trying to figure out how to capitalize on his record approval ratings and pondering a future without him at the helm, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post writes. Hogan’s popularity has boosted the party’s fundraising to historic levels. But the party lost eight legislative seats and two of the five county executive positions they held. Now, with Hogan barred by law from seeking a third term, his party is starting to turn its attention to 2022 and beyond.

MD GUARD CHIEF RETIRES: Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, the first African American and the first woman to lead Maryland’s National Guard, is retiring, Ovetta Wiggins writes in the Post.

OPEN MEETINGS BOARD SMACKS TALBOT OVER EMAILS: John Griep of the Easton Star Democrat reports that the state Open Meetings Compliance Board has ruled — in a complaint against the Talbot County Council — that frequent emails and text messages between council members over nearly two days constituted a meeting that should have been open to the public.

OPINION: OPEN MEETINGS RULING DETRIMENTAL: In a letter to the editor to the Talbot Spy, Talbot Council Council President Corey Pack questions a ruling by the Open Meetings Compliance Board that says that one-on-one emails between members of the Talbot County Council constituted “a meeting” where a quorum participated.  … over the course of two days, (members) had contacted each other to discuss a matter pending before the Maryland General Assembly. “This is a practice which has happened countless times over the lifetime of the Talbot County Council and indeed happens every day throughout the State of Maryland and across the nation.”

PG POLICE TRAIN ON NON-COOPERATION OF DEPORTATION ORDERS: Prince George’s County police launched training efforts this week that specifically prohibit officers from cooperating with federal immigration authorities to enforce civil deportation orders, Lynh Bui of the Post is reporting.

BALLOON RELEASE BAN PUSHED IN QUEEN ANNE’S: A Queen Anne’s County commissioner is hoping legislation banning the release of balloons will lead to a larger conversation and even a statewide ban on the practice, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Mass balloon releases draw the ire of some on social media. A recent balloon release to honor the memory of a murdered Annapolis rapper drew critical comments from some who decried the practice. Baltimore and Ocean City already have similar bans in place.

MO CO CONSIDERS POLICE ADVISORY PANEL: The Montgomery County Council held a public hearing Tuesday on a bill to establish a Policing Advisory Commission that would examine and recommend policies governing police behavior in the Maryland county, Rebecca Tan reports in the Post. Several high-profile incidents involving police have raised tensions between local law enforcement and civilians recently.

MOSBY TO TESTIFY ON POT LAWS BEFORE CONGRESS: Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby will testify before the U.S. Congress in support of federal decriminalization and legalization of marijuana possession, Juliana Kim of the Sun reports. The U.S. Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. this morning to examine the injustices of marijuana prohibition and consider federal law reform.

MAYOR YOUNG CONSIDERS RUN: Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, after previously swearing off a run for the city’s top job, said Tuesday that he is considering jumping into the race, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports. Young, the former City Council president who became mayor when Catherine Pugh resigned May 2 amid scandal, said people are encouraging him to run based on his performance in office thus far.

OPINION: DELANEY AN IMPRESSIVE CANDIDATE: In a column for the Carroll County Times, John Culleton writes that former Maryland Congressman John Delaney is often described as a political moderate. In reality, he checks several progressive boxes. And “through his early efforts in Iowa, Delaney has positioned himself as a unifier, pledging that as president, he would work to resolve America’s increasing political polarization and put forward legislation with support from both parties.”