State Roundup: August 9, 2019

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GUN DEBATE, POLICE SGT SHOT IN BALTIMORE: Officials from across the state of Maryland, including Gov. Larry Hogan, expressed their love and support Thursday for a Baltimore Police Sergeant who was injured in a shooting while off duty in northeast Baltimore, reports WJZ. The station’s Mike Hellgren also has a story on Gov. Hogan’s comments pushing tougher sentencing for repeat violent offenders.

  • The Sun’s State House reporters Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood examine the two sides of the Maryland gun debate and review the gun-related legislation that’s already in the works for the 2020 Maryland General Assembly session in the Roughly Speaking podcast.
  • More than 200 mayors, including Annapolis’ and two mayors recently anguished by mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, are urging the Senate to return to the Capitol to act on gun safety legislation amid criticism that Congress is failing to respond to back-to-back shootings that left 31 people dead, reports AP’s Matthew Daly and Lisa Mascaro in the Annapolis Capital.

GOP SENATE LEADER HERSHEY CRITICIZES PARTY ON GUN LAWS: While in Nashville, Tennessee attending the National Conference of State Legislatures convention, state Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey has been tweeting about the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton and has criticized his fellow Republicans for failing to address the threat posed by white supremacists and mass shootings, reports Robert Lang on WBAL. Hershey talked about the issue on the C4 Show.

RED FLAG ORDERS: Maryland courts have handled nearly 800 petitions in 10 months under the state’s new emergency risk protection order, a civil process that allows judges to temporarily order the removal of guns and ammunition from homes, reports Bryan Sears in The Daily Record. Commonly called “red flag” orders, the laws are gaining more attention again in the wake of two more mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Sears found the use of the “red flag” orders varies by jurisdiction, with Baltimore City’s number adjusted for population, the city with a murder rate higher than Chicago and New York has about five petitions per 100,000 people. That is a rate lower than any other jurisdiction except Kent County, which has yet to see a petition filed.

  • Maryland and the District offer a compelling case study in how similar versions of a red-flag law can yield dramatically different results, with D.C. not having a single petition filed since “red flag” took effect at the beginning of the year, reports Peter Jamison and Peter Hermann for the Post. In Montgomery County, a red-flag petition was used last October in the case of a Rockville teenager who threatened on social media to “shoot up” Walter Johnson High School.

MD BECOMES FIRST RECERTIFIED REAL ID STATE: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has given the Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration its stamp of approval for its compliance with federal REAL ID requirements, reports Saliqa A. Khan at WUSA9. The agency on Wednesday recertified MDOT MVA’s REAL ID process, making Maryland the first state to achieve that designation.

  • The REAL ID program was established by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to boost the standards states use in issuing driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters. By the October 2020 deadline, all Marylanders must have documents on file and be REAL ID compliant to use a state-issued driver’s license or identification card to board an airplane or enter federal government facilities.

FED DELEGATION ANNOUNCES AIRPORT GRANT: Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport will receive a $10 million federal grant to fix up one of its runway approaches, reports Colin Campbell in the Sun.

MOCO RENTAL UNITS INSPECTED:Montgomery County has completed a two-year initiative to inspect all the multifamily rental properties under its jurisdiction, reports Rebecca Tan in the Post. County Executive Marc Elrich’s announcement comes two days before the third anniversary of the 2016 explosion at Flower Branch apartments that destroyed two buildings and killed seven people in Silver Spring, serving as an impetus for the passage of the tenant rights bill that called for the inspection surge.

COMMENTARY: ELLICOTT CITY REBUILDING: Howard County Executive Calvin Ball writes that the plan for Ellicott City is admittedly ambitious, but so is the spirit of the town. “We aren’t rebuilding because it is easy, we are putting in the work now to secure our future for centuries to come,” he opines in The Howard County Times. Through the holistic revitalization plan, “Ellicott City Safe and Sound,” the effort has already removed more than 16,000 pounds of debris from the county’s waterways to prevent future flooding.

DELANEY’s PREZ RUN: Former U.S. Rep. John Delaney has been self funding his campaign, but now he needs 130,000 unique donors to qualify for the next round of Dem primary debates, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters.

HOGAN ADMIN DEMANDS METRO FINANCIAL CHANGES: Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn told state lawmakers on Thursday that his agency is making progress in its efforts to force the Washington, D.C., area’s Metro system to keep better track of its funds, but he cautioned lawmakers not to expect a quick resolution to the matter. The Hogan administration surprised the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Metro’s governing body, by announcing its decision to withhold $55.6 million in capital funds the day they were expected. Bruce DePuyt reports in Maryland Matters.

MOCO BUS CAMERA CONTRACT QUESTIONED: Montgomery County’s inspector general is questioning the school system’s bus-camera contract with a company that was involved in a bribery scandal in Texas, noting that all of the revenue from bus-camera tickets goes to the company, reports Sophie Kaplan in The Washington Times.

MOCO TRAFFIC CONGESTION: Gov. Larry Hogan is preliminarily considering a proposed alternative to the widening of interstate highways 495 and 270 plan to relieve traffic congestion, reports Kathleen Stubbs in the Montgomery Sentinel. The plan was proposed by the Montgomery County government.

NICE BRIDGE BIKE LANE: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin offered late last week to work with Gov. Larry Hogan to identify federal funds that could be used to construct a dedicated lane for bicyclists and pedestrians on the new Gov. Harry W. Nice Memorial/Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge, reports Paul Lagasse in the Charles Independent.

TAX FREE WEEK COMING: Shop Maryland Tax-Free Week is almost here, reports Alexandria Saurman in the Charles Independent. La Plata shop Centerpiece Boutique & Design hadn’t planned any special events for Tax-Free Week in years prior, but is taking a different approach this year, with refreshments, giveaways and a preview of their fall collection.

BOYCOTTS OF FITNESS CENTERS? Bethesda branches of Equinox and SoulCycle are facing criticism after news broke that a majority owner of company that oversees the fitness centers is holding a fundraiser for President Donald Trump, reports Charlie Wright in Bethesda Beat.

C&O GROUNDBREAKING: Gov. Larry Hogan and Sen. Ben Cardin were among the crowd at Williamsport for the groundbreaking of a new $15 million headquarters for the C&O Canal, reports Dave McMillion for the Herald-Mail.

MARRIOTT UNION RALLIES IN BMORE: The union UNITE HERE is pursuing new organizing efforts for the giant Marriott hotel chain, including a push in Baltimore for a first contract covering some 145 newly unionized members there, reports Bruce Vail in labor blog In These Times. UNITE HERE Local 7, backed by the local labor community, rallied at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront hotels to demand that corporate managers negotiate a contract, including for banquet servers who are typically paid a base salary of about $5.20 an hour, and depend on other income distributed from a “service charge.” The union hopes to increase the percentage of the charge they receive so workers don’t need to seek another job.

UM BALTIMORE GRAD SCHOOL DEBT: Students who have attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore for graduate school have the third-highest per-student debt sum among students from public institutions throughout the country, reports Morgan Eichensehr for the Baltimore Business Journal. They carry about $22,531 each in student loan debt, or $106 million in total debt.

‘IS THERE A CAMERA IN YOUR CAR?’ PG OFFICER CONVICTED:Before the blows came down on the homeless man who was handcuffed and in a seat belt in a Prince George’s police cruiser, Lynh Bui reports in the Post that court testimony indicates the police corporal asked his colleague whether there was a camera in the car.

GARRETT WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT GOES TO MES: Garrett County government officially transferred operation of its water/wastewater treatment plants to state-owned not-for-profit organization Maryland Environmental Service on Monday, reports Renée Shreve for the Garrett County Republican. County officials say the transition went well and will save the county about $100,000 in the first year.

CARDIN, VAN HOLLEN VISIT ART MUSEUM: Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen both made their first visits to the Museum of Fine Arts, Washington County, on Thursday reports the Tamela Baker in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail. The staff briefed the lawmakers on the nearly $26,000 grant request pending before the National Endowment for the Arts, and Cardin called for more funding for programs that help museums.

BROWN VISITS CENTRAL AMERICA: U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown landed in Guatemala with about a dozen colleagues on Thursday, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reports Josh Kurtz for Maryland Matters. It’s part of a congressional delegation trip to the so-called Northern Triangle – Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Several congressional lawmakers have already been to the Texas-Mexico border during the August recess, but Pelosi’s office said they wanted to visit these Central American countries to examine the root causes of immigration and attempt to address the crisis at the border.