State Roundup, August 7, 2019

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STATE POLICE LIFT CONCEALED CARRY LIMITS FOR BIZ: Maryland business owners who have restrictions on their concealed carry permits for handguns will be able to have those limits lifted so they can carry their guns at all times, under a policy change state police announced Tuesday, Pamela Wood of the Sun is reporting. Many business owners who hold permits have been allowed to carry their handguns only when on the job or traveling to or from work. Now, they will be able to switch to unrestricted permits that will allow them to carry their handguns at any time.

REAL ID MESS: In half a dozen states the Real ID rollout is a real mess, reports Elaine Povich for Governing magazine. In California and Maryland, miscommunication between the state motor vehicle departments and the federal Department of Homeland Security about which documents are required to prove residency have sent the states and residents scrambling to recertify Real IDs that were already issued but are no longer valid.

IN THE DARK OVER METRO PAYMENTS: If Gov. Larry Hogan and his transportation secretary, Pete Rahn, were looking to create a sense of drama and uncertainty surrounding the state’s commitment to fund the Washington, D.C., area’s transit system, they have succeeded. It’s been more than five weeks since Rahn announced that Maryland would not be making the $55.6 million payment to Metro that was due that day. The July 1 announcement caught both agency and local elected officials by surprise — and many are still wondering whether the payment will be made. “I’m not getting any answers. I get none,” said state Sen. Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery), the chairwoman of the Budget and Taxation Committee.

OPINION: SKEPTICAL OVER CONSERVATIVES’ CLEANUP: The editorial board of the Sun makes a strong case for being skeptical of the motives of Scott Presler and the conservatives who came to West Baltimore to help clean up the area. While they claim their actions weren’t political, there are indications they were.

FAMILIES ACCUSE ICE OF ‘BAIT & SWITCH:’ A group of Maryland families allege that Baltimore immigration officials are participating in a “bait and switch” tactic in which they detain people visiting the office who believe they’re participating in a legal green card process after getting married, Phil Davis of the Sun is reporting.

COURT RULES SEARCH ILLEGAL: A Frederick County police officer violated a woman’s constitutional rights by looking down her underwear during a highway-side search for hidden drugs after a traffic stop allegedly revealed cocaine in her car, Maryland’s second-highest court has ruled in overturning her drug conviction, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.

RECONSIDERING THE BEAVER: The Bay Journal’s Tom Horton writes in MarylandReporter that in recent decades, beavers have come back to the point where a solid body of science in Canada and the United States confirms they were this continent’s most important keystone species — a species whose functioning underpins a whole ecosystem.

ERASING HISTORY? A Baltimore city park is renamed to honor the late Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cancer cells sparked a revolution in research. But in doing so, it wiped out the name of Ambrose J. Kennedy, a former city councilman, state senator, U.S. congressman and Democratic chieftain, William Zorzi writes in Maryland Matters.

NEW HO CO LAW COULD SLASH REVENUES: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball’s administration is warning that a measure he backed as a councilman to lower the threshold for halting real estate development due to school enrollment could slash the county’s net revenues by $152 million over the next two decades, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record is reporting. Changes to the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance enacted last year will cost the county $63 million in net revenues during the next six years alone, according to a report examining the fiscal impact of new development in Howard County.

  • But the county Department of Planning and Zoning said this likely will not be detrimental to the county’s bottom line, Erin Logan reports in the Howard County Times. Though the study projected the county would forgo potential net revenue by limiting development through the ordinance, long-term cost savings associated with the avoidance of infrastructure outlays were $865 million by 2038.

HOWARD’s CALVIN BALL A CHEERLEADER: In this continuing series of profiles of new county executives, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters writes that Howard County Executive Calvin Ball is an optimist. So when a business owner made a bold statement during a recent morning meeting – “We want to be for Howard County what Under Armour is for Baltimore” – the Ball administration was moving on the issue by lunchtime.

B’MORE MULLS PLASTIC BAG BAN: A Baltimore City Council committee hearing Tuesday on the proposed prohibition of plastic bags used at stores brought out environmentalists desperate to reduce plastic pollution and retailers who say the legislation as written places an undue financial burden on them. The Judiciary Committee did not vote on the bill, but will soon hold a work session to discuss next steps for the legislation, which is sponsored by a majority of the young and progressive council, Talia Richman of the Sun is reporting.

  • In its current form, the bill bans plastic checkout bags at any retailer in Baltimore, like small grocers and clothing stores. Businesses could instead provide paper bags to customers, who would have to pay a 5-cent fee per bag. Four cents would go to city environmental efforts and the remaining penny would go to the business. People who pay with low-income food benefits, such as SNAP or WIC, would be exempt from the fee, Emily Sullivan of WYPR-FM reports.

TIP-JAR REVENUE FUELS CHARITIES IN WA CO: Several charities will receive gaming money from Washington County for the first time this year. The county’s gaming commission announced Tuesday it was distributing more than $1 million to 81 charities, Julie Greene of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports. The gaming commission fund is fueled by tip-jar revenue. For-profit operators such as liquor stores and bars pay 50% of gross revenue from their tip jars to the gaming fund. Nonprofits such as fraternal clubs pay 15%.

OPINION: MO CO EXEC, COUNCIL NEED TO TALK: In a column for Bethesda Beat, Adam Pagnucco, who spent four years as council chief of staff, writes about his experience under the Leggett administration, saying that the relationship between the executive and legislative branches is one of the most crucial elements in the proper functioning of county government.

SUN-UNION NEGOTIATIONS: Baltimore Sun union reps are back at the negotiating table on Aug. 6 with management, Ethan McLeod of Baltimore Fishbowl reports. The chief goal is securing what staffers say is a long-overdue salary bump for roughly 100 employees who belong to the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, said investigative reporter and bargaining committee member Kevin Rector.