State Roundup August 2, 2019

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CUMMINGS’ HOME BURGLARIZED: The home of Rep. Elijah Cummings was burglarized just hours before Trump’s first tweets, reports Jessica Anderson and Jeff Barker in the Sun. It is unknown whether any property was taken.

TRUMP CONTINUES ATTACKS, MEDIA ANALYZES REFORM EFFORTS: In an in-depth look at efforts to heal Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, Erin Cox at the Post reports those involved in the once-in-a-generation effort to deliver systemic social change acknowledge it has largely fizzled, undermined by a deep distrust of institutions, unstable political leadership and the intractable barriers erected by generations of poverty, segregation and disinvestment.

‘BILLIONS’ BALTIMORE FED FUNDING ANALYSIS: In a fact-checking style article, Doug Donovan and Luke Broadwater delve into whether Baltimore has received “billions” in federal aid that has been wasted or stolen, as President Trump alleged. The federal website that tracks spending says individuals, agencies and other institutions in Baltimore have received roughly $8 billion over the past two years. But the vast majority has not gone to City Hall to distribute, according a federal government clearinghouse for spending data.

  • In a different take, Baltimore has gotten $900 million in operating and capital expenses in the last five years, and more to city agencies like the Housing Authority, David Williams with the Taxpayers Protection Alliance told Maxine Streicher at WBFF (Fox Baltimore). “The problem in Baltimore is not for lack of money, it’s for lack of leadership,” Williams said.

LOCAL, FEDS ANNOUNCE CRIME CRACKDOWN: Maryland’s U.S. Attorney Robert Hur Thursday announced a significant crime crackdown in Baltimore in recent weeks, reports Mike Hellgren at WJZ. The announcement included that President Trump’s recent comments will not deter a partnership between local and federal law enforcement.

MTA WON’T RELEASE LIGHT RAIL COLLAPSE VID: The Maryland Transit Administration denied a public information request for surveillance video footage of a downtown Light Rail station collapsing into the street, saying that would “jeopardize the security” of its camera system, reports Scott Dance in the Sun. The newspaper filed the request after a ramp and platform that allow disabled patrons to access Light Rail trains collapsed July 10 into an underground void at Howard and West Pratt streets. Two days earlier, a water main break washed out a large area beneath the transit stop.

PENCE VISITS CRANE COMPANY: Just over the Mason-Dixon line, VP Mike Pence visited Manitowoc, the only American-owned crane company that manufactures its product in the U.S., to stump for congressional passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, reports Colleen McGrath in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

IMPALLARIA LAWSUIT DISMISSED: A defamation claim filed against four Republican Party officials by a Republican state delegate has been dismissed, reports Bryan Sears in the Daily Record. Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Jan Alexander dismissed the case filed by Del.  Rick Impallaria after the delegate failed to appear in court.

BLIND VOTERS OBJECT TO BALLOT: A group of Maryland voters is suing the state of Maryland, alleging that state policies require them to cast a segregated ballot, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters. The National Federation of the Blind, its Maryland affiliate and three blind registered Maryland voters filed a lawsuit against the Maryland State Board of Elections in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges the current voting system denies blind voters their right to a secret ballot and an equal voting experience.

DELEGATE QUESTIONS WSSC REBRANDING COST: As the Washington, D.C., region’s water and sewer utility prepares to spend nearly $900,000 to change its name and logo, a Maryland lawmaker is demanding to know more about how the agency spends its money, reports Bruce DePuyt in Maryland Matters. Del. Marc Korman (D-Montgomery) made the request in a July 24 letter to Carla Reid, general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

‘TRUCKERS AGAINST TRAFFICKING’ MEET WITH AG FROSH: Because human trafficking is so hard to detect, Attorney General Brian Frosh is incorporating more truckers to help keep their eyes on the road to help prevent this national crisis from spreading any further, reports Skyler Henry on WMAR. He is joining with “Truckers Against Trafficking.”

STUDENT ACTION ON GUN ISSUES: Severn High School rising senior Mackenzie Boughey helped host her third roundtable discussion on finding common ground on gun violence policy, including a state senator and two delegates, reports Angela Roberts in the Capital.

GANG COMMISSION: Two Frederick County lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about gangs and the violence they cause, reports Steve Bohnel in FNP’s Political Notes. Sen. Michael Hough is the chair of a state task force to address those issues, and Frederick County Del. Jesse Pippy is serving on it.

LEGAL HEMP MAKES MSP MARIJUANA TESTING CHALLENGING: Changes in state law that legalize the manufacture, possession and sale of hemp could make it more costly and challenging to prosecute marijuana offenses, reports Trish McGee from Chestertown in the Easton Star Democrat.

OPINION: CYCLING POLICY: Red Maryland’s Greg Kline writes about the safety impact of increasing bicycling in New York City, and opines that is the exact ideology behind the cycling movement here in Maryland which has also conned too many of state and local leaders to expend too much of our tax dollars in favor of a economically privileged tiny minority of citizens. Kline writes Maryland needs leaders with the guts to stand up to the cycling zealots and support the common good including policies that will actually reduce injuries to cyclists even if that means (gasp!) discouraging people from engaging in the inherently dangerous activity of riding bikes on roads with cars and trucks.

SCHULZ SPEAKS ON MILL CLOSURE: New Secretary of Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz outlined how the state is helping former Verso employees and the paper mill in Luke, reports Renee Shreve of the Garrett County Republican. About 675 employees lost their jobs when the company ceased operations this spring.

VAN HOLLEN VISITS SOUTHERN MD: Sen. Chris Van Hollen met with local businesses, firefighters, military and education leaders Friday during a visit to Charles County to discuss investing in Southern Maryland’s economy, reports Johnathon Clinkscales for the St. Mary’s Enterprise. He also discussed providing necessary funding to education and job training programs, supporting the military installations across the state as well as ensuring that first responders have the tools necessary to keep communities safe.

WESTERN MD VISIT FOR HADDAWAY-RICCIO: Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio visited the Natural Resources Career Camp at Garrett County’s environmental center last week, reports Renee Shreve in the Garrett County Republican. Natural resource professionals provided campers with hands-on lessons and educational experiences in geographic information system mapping and Global Positioning System technology, urban forestry, wildlife habitat, fisheries and watershed ecology.

GARRETT AIRPORT GETS FUNDING: A grant from the federal Department of Transportation will fund 100% of the construction of eight corporate hangars at the Garrett County Airport, reports the Cumberland Times-News. The airport currently has a waiting list, and groundbreaking for the project is planned for spring 2020.