State Roundup July 12, 2019

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BALTIMORE BRACES FOR ICE RAIDS: Maryland’s senators are slamming planned ICE enforcement as reckless and unnecessary, reports Robin Bravender for Maryland Matters. Instead, they said the Trump administration should focus on reducing violence from Central American gangs in the U.S.

  • The operation follows Republican President Donald Trump’s tweet in June that the United States will deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants, and would target people with final deportation orders, including families whose immigration cases were fast-tracked by judges in 10 major cities, including Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles, reports Jeff Barker in the Sun.

IMMIGRANT RIGHTS LAWSUIT: An immigrant rights advocacy group on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against Frederick County, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and two of his deputies for a 2018 traffic stop that they say was based on racial profiling and led to the illegal detention of a Latina woman, reports Jeremy Arias for the Frederick News-Post.

REACTION TO CITIZENSHIP NOT ON CENSUS: Maryland lawmakers were relieved when President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration is backing down from an effort to add a question inquiring about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. census, Christine Condon reports for the Sun.

COURTS SIDE WITH BALTIMORE BREW IN GAG ORDER CASE: Baltimore’s practice of requiring individuals to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to settle police misconduct lawsuits– challenged by Baltimore Brew and Ashley Overbey Underwood – is unconstitutional and unenforceable, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today, reversing a lower court decision, reports Brew editors.

  • Judge Henry Floyd wrote in a majority opinion that hanging half of a settlement over Ashley Overbey’s and other plaintiffs’ heads for publicly commenting on a case amounts to “hush money,” reports Ethan McLeod for Baltimore Fishbowl.
  • The clause, included in nearly every agreement settling a police misconduct lawsuit until 2017, required Ashley Overbey Underwood to limit her public comments to the fact that a settlement had been reached and prohibited discussing opinions, facts or allegations connected to her case with the news media, reports Heather Cobun in The Daily Record.

DEMS ALLEGE HOGAN CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS: For the second time in a month, the Maryland Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Maryland Board of Elections accusing contributors to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of campaign violations, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

EXCESSIVE FORCE: Dozens of agencies — including the Baltimore Police Department — never reported when officers use excessive force or injure someone and cases of officers’ criminal misconduct, reports Kevin Rector for the Sun. State lawmakers passed the law mandating reporting in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody.

LONG WAIT TO DISCIPLINE MD JUDGES: The murder of a man who had sought a protective court order against his neighbor has drawn attention to the slow-moving disciplinary system used for judges in Maryland, reports Alison Knezevich in the Sun.

PURPLE LINE DELAY: Maryland transportation officials have granted the contractor building the Purple Line a 160-day delay in the light-rail line’s opening but will not compensate it for related costs, reports Katherine Shaver for the Post.

JACK EVANS INVESTIGATION CONTINUES: A federal grand jury investigating D.C. Council member Jack Evans has issued subpoenas for testimony and documents related to a recent separate inquiry in which a Metro committee found that Evans committed ethical misconduct when he was chairman of the transit agency’s board of directors, reports Paul Duggan and Fenit Nirappil for the Post.

UTILITY RATE SETTING CHANGES: Utility companies in Maryland are awaiting an order from the Public Service Commission that could allow them to move forward with overhauling the way rates are set in Maryland, reports Holden Wilen in the Baltimore Business Journal.

MES TO OPERATE GARRETT WASTEWATER PLANTS: Maryland Environmental Services will operate Garrett County’s water and wastewater treatment plants, reports Renee Shreve in The Garrett County Republican. The arrangement with the state-owned environmental organization was approved in a resolution and will lower costs, she reported.

DELUGE TEST IN THE STATE HOUSE: The Maryland Department of General Services plans to conduct a test of the State House “deluge” fire-suppression system this morning starting at 9 a.m., drenching the outside of the historic wooden dome with water, reports the staff of the Capital Gazette.

MOSBY SUPPORTS DRUG INJECTION SITE: Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby joined dozens of prosecutors and law enforcement officials supporting a proposed drug injection site in Philadelphia, reports Maxine Streicher of WBFF.

OVERDOSES DOWN IN ANNE ARUNDEL: The number of opioid overdoses in Anne Arundel County have continued to decrease with a 25% decline in comparison to 2018, reports Naomi Harris for The Capital Gazette.

Sen. James Ed DeGrange

Former Sen. James Ed DeGrange

DeGRANGE JOINS LOBBYING FIRM: Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson on Thursday announced former state Sen. Ed DeGrange has joined the top Annapolis lobbying firm, reports Bryan P. Sears in The Daily Record. Brad Frome, who previously served as a senior aide to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, is also joining.

  • The firm’s lengthy client list includes health care providers, gaming companies, financial institutions, real estate interests and the Washington Redskins, among others, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. Perry, a former chief of staff to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), earned more than $1.6 million between Nov. 1, 2018 and April 30 in ethics filings.

COURT OF APPEALS SWEARING IN: The newest member of Maryland’s top court, Brynja Booth, pledged Thursday to “work hard every day to justify” her seat on the Court of Appeals, reports Steve Lash for The Daily Record.

HOGAN PROMOTES SPEECHWRITER: Gov. Larry Hogan continues to fine-tune his communications shop, announcing Thursday that he has named Kata Hall to serve as deputy communications director, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. Hall, whose tenure in the administration began in May 2015, previously served as the governor’s senior speechwriter.

FACEBOOK GROUP OPPOSED ELLICOTT CITY PLAN: A Facebook group served as the digital headquarters of sorts for those opposed to then-Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman’s multimillion-dollar plan to mitigate flooding in Ellicott City, reports Erin Logan of the Howard County Times in the Sun. Kittleman made the plan public last August, 71 days before voters would decide whether the Republican would get a second term in office.

FALLEN JOURNALISTS MEMORIAL GAINS SUPPORT: This past week, Sen. Susan Collins became the seventh member of Congress to cosponsor a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin and Ohio’s Rob Portman for a privately funded memorial honoring fallen journalists, broadcasters and photographers, reports Tate Mikkelsen for the Washington Business Journal. The legislation was introduced just days after the anniversary of Annapolis Capital Gazette shooting, where five journalists and employees lost their lives.

OPINION ON UMD ACCREDITATION: The regents bear most of the blame for the ongoing review of the university’s accreditation, writes the Diamondback Editorial Board in an editorial about the chaos that ensued from Jordan McNair’s death. But university administrators cannot entirely absolve themselves; their missteps were instrumental in setting up the board’s decisions that led to concerns about the school’s autonomy, they state.

GUN POLICY TRAINING: About 50 teenagers from across the country filed into a Johns Hopkins University lecture hall Tuesday to begin an intensive, four-day summer course on gun policy and research taught by experts to develop advocates on the issue, reports Talia Richman in the Post.