State Roundup, September 12, 2019

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7 RX POT USERS REPORT RESPIRATORY SYMPTOMS: Seven medical cannabis users in Maryland have come forward to report unexplained respiratory symptoms since the state’s Medical Cannabis Commission asked users and providers to alert regulators of any lung problems in light of the mounting cases of illnesses locally and nationally linked to vaping, Meredith Cohn of the Sun is reporting.

STEPS TOWARD PRESCRIPTION DRUG BOARD: An exchange of letters between the Hogan administration and the Maryland Health Care Commission appears to offer a path to fund and staff the state’s new Prescription Drug Advisory Board — though the lawmakers who pushed for the panel’s creation are not ready to declare victory, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

FROSH CRITICIZES PHARMA SETTLEMENT: A tentative settlement announced Wednesday over the role Purdue Pharma played in the nation’s opioid addiction crisis falls short of the far-reaching national settlement the OxyContin maker had been seeking for months, with litigation sure to continue against the company and the family that owns it. Several state attorneys general, including Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, criticized the proposed settlement as inadequate, according to Sun staff and wire reports.

OPINION: IT’s HOGAN’s MOVE ON HBCU LAWSUIT: A coalition representing Maryland’s four historically black colleges and universities has made a major move toward a sound and reasonable compromise to end years of wrangling in court and redress decades of severe under funding. … Now it’s time for Gov. Larry Hogan and members of the General Assembly, some of whom received the proposal in a letter from the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, to show the same conviction and put an end to years of acrimonious litigation, says a Sun editorial.

PUSH FOR MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Washington-area elected officials voted Wednesday to push their local governments to address the region’s affordable-housing shortage by setting individual targets to increase production of low- and medium-cost housing by 2030. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments – made up of the District, Northern Virginia and the Maryland suburbs – said the region needs to add 320,000 housing units between 2020 and 2030 — 75,000 more units than forecast, Robert McCartney of the Post reports.

OPINION: HOGAN STEPS UP AGAINST CRIME: The editorial board of the Sun praises Gov. Larry Hogan for stepping up to help Baltimore as it fights its massive crime problem, writing that, “We are grateful that Gov. Larry Hogan has agreed to funnel an additional $21 million in state resources to help fight violent crime in Baltimore, and more generally that he is acknowledging his own responsibility for reducing violence. Too often he has spoken about Baltimore’s problems as if he were a spectator and not a participant.”

TRUMP’s B’MORE VISIT TODAY: President Donald Trump, who disparaged Baltimore this summer as more deadly than Afghanistan and “disgusting, rat and rodent infested,” is coming to town Thursday afternoon. The 45th president’s visit has the potential to snarl rush-hour traffic downtown. It’s also motivating protesters, who are using the visit to advocate against a variety of injustices, from racism to climate change, reports Pamela Wood for the Sun.

OPINION: WELCOME TO BALTIMORE: Most of Baltimore is not upset because the president pointed out the city faces serious problems — they are a daily conversation and focus of much attention in these parts — but because of his extraordinary, bordering on inhuman, lack of interest in doing anything about them, says the Sun.

BIDEN LEADS IN MD $$; SANDERS LEADS IN DONORS: In Maryland, nearly 125,000 donations were made to candidates through June 30, sometimes by the same donor more than once. Sometimes the same donor gave to more than one candidate. More than half of the donations in the state were a sawbuck or less. Former Vice President Joe Biden raised the most: $758,197.02. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg comes next, bringing in $642,375.26. However, both of them combined haven’t achieved the number of donations that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has in the state: more than 30,295 since January, Danielle Gaines writes for Maryland Matters.

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE WON’T CENTER ON CLIMATE CHANGE: All but one of Maryland’s Democratic National Committee members voted against a proposal to sanction a standalone climate debate pushed by progressives, a recently released roll call vote shows. Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports that the volatility over the proposal made news at the time of the vote in late August, when DNC members vote 222-137 against a compromise resolution that would have allowed Democratic presidential candidates to hold a debate dedicated to climate change. But a detailed roll call vote has only been publicly circulated in the last week – and it’s prompting progressive party members to confront those who opposed the idea of the single-issue debate.

MUSICIANS REJECT BSO PROPOSALS: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians voted to reject a pair of contract proposals that would have returned them to Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to open the 2019-20 season this weekend — but at the expense of summer concerts and likely facing a hefty future pay cut, according to Brian Prechtl and Greg Mulligan, co-chairmen of the Baltimore Symphony Musicians Players Committee, Mary Carole McCauley reports in the Sun.

U.S. BILL WOULD BLOCK OFFSHORE DRILLING: U.S. House lawmakers approved bipartisan legislation Wednesday that would block new offshore drilling off the majority of the U.S. coast – despite pushback from many Republicans. The legislation would put in place far-reaching new protections, blocking drilling off most of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday on a similar ban for drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Maryland’s lawmakers votes along party lines, Alison Winter reports in Maryland Matters.

COMMENTARY: THE STRENGTH OF ORDINARY AMERICANS: In a column in MarylandReporter, former Del. Herb McMillan writes that on this anniversary of 9/11, it’s fitting for all Americans to take a deep breath, and remember a few simple things about who we are. First, the strength of America comes from our people, not from our politicians. On 9/11, you didn’t see many politicians at ground zero; you did see thousands of “ordinary” Americans rushing to the aid of their fellow citizens, without any thought for their own safety.

CODE RED: PART 4: In Part 4 of the series on heat in Baltimore City, Dan Novak, Kaitlyn Hopkins, Ian Round and Sandy Banisky of Capital News Service report that researchers know how cities can ease the impact of rising temperatures. For starters, they can replace some concrete and asphalt with grass and trees, cover tar roofs with reflective white materials, remove the hard pavement that contributes to flooding and substitute permeable surfacing materials that let water drain through.

MAGISTRATE SIGNS OFF CARROLL COMMISSIONERS CONSENT DECREE: The lawsuit challenging the past practice of Carroll County commissioners leading prayers at their meetings came to a close Tuesday when a U.S. magistrate judge signed a consent decree, nearly two weeks after the board voted to settle, report Mary Grace Keller and Jon Kelvey for the Carroll County Times. The current Board of Commissioners’ handling of the case had come under scrutiny, with several locals speaking out against the settlement in a commissioners meeting, by protesting outside another meeting and through written op-eds