State Roundup, August 5, 2019

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CHALLENGE TO HOGAN EXEC ORDER ON ISRAEL BOYCOTT: U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake heard arguments Thursday in a case challenging an executive order Gov. Larry Hogan signed in 2017 that requires state contractors to sign an affidavit certifying that they do not and will not boycott Israel, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports. Saqib Ali, a software engineer and former Democratic member of the Maryland House of Delegates from Gaithersburg, is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement that protests Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

CUMMINGS ‘WOULD WELCOME’ TRUMP TO BALTIMORE: After a week of President Donald Trump leveling criticisms at Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the congressman said he would welcome the president to come visit, Lillian Reed of the Sun reports. “I’d love for him to sit down and talk to the doctors at Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland and see the beautiful neighborhoods of our city, and I’d be happy to have him,” Cummings said at a community event Saturday near his Baltimore home.

SIX FALSE TRUMP CLAIMS: In the course of a week, President Donald Trump made at least six false claims about the city of Baltimore and Maryland’s 7th congressional district, which U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings represents. In doing so, Trump cast himself as a straight shooter, telling it like it is, writes Luke Broadwater of the Sun, who takes a look at those false claims.

CUMMINGS SCARED AWAY INTRUDER: Jessica Anderson and Jeff Barker of the Sun report that U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings issued a press release saying that he scared away the intruder who was attempting to burglarize his home by yelling at him.

OPINION: PRESIDENT MAKES FUN, POLITICAL HAY OF MURDERS: The editorial board for the Sun once more takes on Trump, this time for making light of Baltimore city’s murder rate during a rally in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday, a day before a white man killed nine, including his own sister in a slaughter in Dayton, Ohio. The board writes: We have seen much in our day. Crime, poverty, drug abuse, racial discrimination, human trafficking, hate crimes. We have witnessed soldiers marched off to wars, some justified, others not. We have reported on horrible car accidents, serial killings, political corruption, disease outbreaks, air crashes, natural disasters, tragedy heaped on tragedy. But we can’t recall a president of the United States making light of the violent deaths of his fellow Americans.”

OPINION: PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP HELPED DETROIT: Rip Rapson of the Kresge Foundation in a column for the Sun opines that for some eight years, the residents of Detroit witnessed first-hand the power of compassionate, competent presidential leadership that changed the arc of an emblematic American city’s path from despair and displacement to renewed health and vitality.

OPINION: CLARION CALL: Laslo Boyd, in a guest column for Maryland Matters, writes that the response to Trump’s attack on Baltimore and Cummings may be the catalyst that stimulates the renewed problem-solving spirit needed to address those problems. The clarion call was surely the Baltimore Sun editorial defending the honor of the city and hitting back hard at Trump.

OPINION: HOGAN & GLASS HOUSES: The editorial board of the Sun contacted Gov. Hogan’s staff for clarification on what he meant when he said U.S. Rep. Cummings could do more to help Baltimore. The board ran with the answer, then wrote: The list doesn’t really have to do with Mr. Cummings specifically. Indeed, the Hogan administration says the governor was really trying to say that the White House and Congress in general could do more to help Baltimore.

MTA TO VET MO CO I-270 PLAN: Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn pledged last week that his agency’s experts will give Montgomery County’s plan to ease traffic along the Interstate 270 corridor and the Capital Beltway a thorough review, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. In a letter to the chairman of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board on Wednesday, Rahn assured the panel that the county’s alternative plan will receive the “same level” of analysis as the proposals the Maryland Department of Transportation developed last year.

MO CO ASKS HOGAN TO RELEASE $56M IN WMATA FUNDS: Montgomery County officials are asking Gov. Larry Hogan to release nearly $56 million in funding for capital improvements to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs Metro, Dan Schere of Bethesda Beat reports. Hogan refused to release the money due to lingering concerns over the transit agency’s lack of transparency about financial audits, as first reported by the Washington Post.

CENSURE OF IMPALLARIA SOUGHT: A Harford County Republican is asking a legislative ethics panel to impose one of the severest forms of punishment on a sitting state delegate who is suing him for defamation, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. Chris Biggs, of Abingdon, is asking the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics to recommend censure for Del. Rick Impallaria, R-Harford and Baltimore counties. In two separate filings with the committee, Biggs alleges that Impallaria filed the defamation suit in retaliation for an earlier complaint to the ethics committee and complains that Impallaria misused his official title when he filed one of his defamation lawsuits.

HOGAN’s BIG MEDIA DAY: Gov. Larry Hogan did a whirlwind media tour in New York City on Thursday, cracking jokes with late-night host Seth Meyers on NBC, discussing urban issues on Fox News, and briefly discussing the economy and student debt on CNBC. Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that it was an unusual flurry of national attention for the state’s second-term governor, but Hogan is a two-fer for guest bookers right now: Last week he took the helm of the National Governors Association, while the controversy surrounding President Trump’s Twitter attacks on Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) has now stretched nearly a week.

BLIND VOTERS SUIT: The National Federation of the Blind has filed a federal lawsuit against the Maryland Board of Elections, alleging blind voters are being discriminated against at the ballot box, reports Luke Broadwater in the Sun. The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland and three individual voters say in a suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court that they and other blind voters are being denied their right to cast a secret ballot at the polls as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

STATE DECERTIFIES CAROLINE COP IN ANTON BLACK CASE: State officials late last month decertified a Caroline County police officer who was the first responding law enforcement agent on the scene the night Anton Black, an African-American teenager, died following a foot chase and struggle with police, Glynis Kazanjian of Maryland Matters is reporting.

B’MORE MAY FINALLY BAN PLASTIC BAGS: Hundreds of U.S. cities and counties and two states have outlawed plastic bags at checkout counters since the Baltimore City Council first considered a ban in 2006. More than a decade later, a proposal to rid the city of them could finally be ripe for passage, Scott Dance of the Sun is reporting.

OPINION: MAYOR BUCKLEY ON MASS SHOOTINGS: In a column for the Annapolis Capital, Mayor Gavin Buckley writes that the City of Annapolis is heartbroken for the victims and their families in El Paso and Dayton. “I am heartbroken that we are once again responding to a mass shooting. To the Mayors of El Paso and Dayton: your cities are strong and you will find love and community in places and ways you thought you’d never see. I can tell you from personal experience that your cities will never be the same. You will never be the same.”

STATE GRANTS AID CARROLL LAW ENFORCEMENT: State-level grant funding will allow Carroll County to remain an active member in a cross-jurisdictional network for enforcement and prosecution against criminal networks and drug distribution chains, Catalina Righter of the Carroll County Times reports. The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention awarded a $232,813 grant to the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office for efforts to “gather data and information for the successful prosecution and dismantling of criminal networks as part of the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Network,” according to a news release through the State’s Attorney’s Office.

BA CO SETTLES $1.1M LAWSUIT IN EXCESSIVE FORCE SUIT: Baltimore County has agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the family of a young Middle River man who died in 2016, days after an encounter with county police officers and emergency medical workers, Alison Knezevich of the Sun reports. The $1,150,000 settlement with the family of 21-year-old Tawon Boyd is among the largest the county has reached in a lawsuit alleging excessive force by police.