State Roundup, September 17, 2019

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NEW FOOD STAMP RULE COULD IMPERIL 50,000 MARYLANDERS: Maryland Democrats on Capitol Hill are pressing Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to rescind a proposed rule that could cause tens of thousands of Marylanders to lose food stamp benefits. All of the state’s Democratic U.S. senators and representatives have signed on to a letter from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), which says that 50,000 Marylanders could lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits if a new eligibility rule takes effect, Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports.

MD CENSUS PANEL STYMIED: The state’s Census Complete Count Committee is charged with an important task: making sure every Marylander is counted in the 2020 U.S. census. But lawmakers on the committee have a concern. The committee, they say, isn’t doing much of anything, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

HOGAN TO HEAD TO AUSTRALIA: Gov. Larry Hogan heads to Australia on Sunday to study infrastructure issues and discuss possible economic partnerships, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. Hogan will visit Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney before returning Sept. 30, according to an announcement Monday from his office.

CUTS TO OYSTER SEASON RESCINDED: Maryland’s upcoming oyster season won’t be cut by 10 days at the start and another 10 days at the end, officials announced Monday, a change to an initial proposal that relieved watermen but concerned critics who support stronger conservation measures, Brian Witte of the AP is reporting.

STATE TRACKS DATA BREACHES: A 2007 state law requires any company that has had a breach of personally identifiable information to notify Maryland’s attorney general and affected consumers about the breach. In 2015, 482 breach notices were posted by the attorney general’s office. Through May this year, there have been 529 notices posted. Last year the office posted 1,067 notices, Tim Curtis reports for the Daily Record.

OPINION: STATE FAILS HBCU STUDENTS: In a column for his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar writes that after 13 years of acrimonious litigation, Maryland is no closer to resolving the question of discriminatory treatment of historically black colleges and universities than in 2006 when it all began. State leaders and leaders of Maryland’s four HBCUs have failed the tens of thousands of students who would have benefitted from a compromise over the last 13 years.

McKAY TO CO-CHAIR ECON COMMISSION: Del. Mike McKay (R-1C) has been named co-chair of Maryland’s Commission on Economic Stability by House Speaker Adrienne Jones, Greg Larry reports for the Cumberland Times News. McKay will join Del. Pam Queen (D-14) of Montgomery County as the group’s leaders. The commission’s work has been two-fold. It has been studying ways to prevent the middle class from falling into poverty and to help those trapped in a cycle of perpetual poverty to rise above it.

U.S. REP. BROWN TOUTS MD GAMING INDUSTRY: Former lieutenant governor and current U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown is urging the state to remain competitive in the gaming industry, warning that other states are making it difficult to compete. Brown, a Democrat in the 4th District that includes Prince George’s County, and others highlighted positives from gaming, first legalized in 2008. Among those pluses, he said, are economic development gains, hundreds of millions in revenue for state education program and local grants to jurisdictions that are home to the state’s six gaming venues, writes Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.

OPINION: HARRIS STALLS AS CLIMATE CRISIS CONTINUES: In a column for the Sun, Dan Rodricks writes that U.S. Rep. Andy Harris has listed several reasons he opposes off-shore wind turbines 17 miles off the coast of Ocean City, including a concern that the turbines pose a national security risk. As he attempted to find out what type of risk, Rodricks concludes, “So this looks like another foolish Republican stall on acknowledging the climate crisis and doing something about it.”

BGE SAYS ELLICOTT CITY PLAN COULD HARM SERVICE: The Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said a lawmaker’s proposal could negatively affect the service it provides to Ellicott City residents. Howard County Councilwoman Liz Walsh of Ellicott City is proposing an overhaul in the regulation of development in the historic town, which has experienced two catastrophic floods since 2016., writes Erin Logan for the Howard County Times.

MO CO SEEKS TO RESTRICT TEEN ACCESS TO E-CIGS: Maryland’s largest jurisdiction will introduce legislation today to restrict access to e-cigarettes for young adults and teenagers, joining a wave of jurisdictions trying to address underage ­vaping. The bills include a zoning amendment that would prohibit vaping shops within a half-mile of any middle or high school in Montgomery County, which could close 22 vape shops in the county within 24 months of the amendment going into effect, Rebecca Tan of the Post reports.

MO CO LAGGING IN CLIMATE PROMISE: In November 2017, the Montgomery County Council declared a “Climate Change Emergency” and resolved to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the county. This past weekend, more than 300 county residents gathered in a “Climate Emergency Town Hall” to discuss and debate how the effort is going. The answer – from the activists and experts assembled – was clear: so far, unsatisfactorily, Bob Guldin reports for Maryland Matters.

MO CO PANEL MEETS IN CLOSED DOOR SESSION: Saying that it was a “matter of public safety,” the Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee met in a closed-door session Monday to discuss backup plans for first responders if an emergency communication system suffers a “catastrophic failure,” Caitlynn Peetz reports for Bethesda Beat.

OPINION: THE CARROLL PRAYER LAWSUIT: In an op-ed in the Sun, Neil Ridgely explains why he and Bruce Hake sued the Carroll County Commissioners to end their habit of leading prayers before each meeting. “When Christian prayers launch each meeting, the board is unwelcoming to non-Christians who may otherwise be interested in attending local government events or who may even be interested in running for the Board of Commissioners or other elected offices in the community. … county commissioners are elected to represent the interests of all of their constituents — not just the ones that adhere to one set of sectarian faith traditions.”