State Roundup, October 2, 2019

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HOGAN TAPS 4 NEW UMMS BOARD MEMBERS: Gov. Larry Hogan appointed four new members to the University of Maryland Medical System board of directors and a key hospital executive announced his retirement Tuesday amid sweeping change at the hospital network following a self-dealing scandal that resulted in the resignations of Baltimore’s mayor and other top hospital officials, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

RX POT PANEL MOVES: Gov. Larry Hogan announced several new and returning members to the state commission that regulates Maryland’s medical cannabis industry, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. A 2018 law required the state to dissolve and re-form the medical cannabis commission, effective Tuesday.

HEALTH DEPT URGES VAPING CAUTION: Marylanders who use e-cigarette products are being asked to consider other options. Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports that the state Department of Health Tuesday issued a statement urging users of the products, including medical cannabis patients, to refrain from using vaping products. The statement comes on the same day as a new law banning sales of nicotine products, including e-cigarette products, to anyone under 21.

MORE THAN 2 DOZEN STATE WEBSITES LACK REQUIRED TRANSLATIONS: Three years after Maryland passed a law requiring the translation of state government websites, more than two dozen websites remain out of compliance, the law’s sponsor said last month, Lisa Nevans Locke of Maryland Matters reports. “Normally, when you pass a law, you think, ‘Abracadabra,’ and it’s done,” said Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery). “After all these years, it’s disappointing that it’s not. It’s the law and it should be followed.”

OPINION: FUND KIRWAN, FOR FUTURE: In an opinion column for Maryland Matters, Theresa Dudley of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association and Diamonte Brown of the Baltimore Teachers Union urges Gov. Hogan “to step up and do what’s right for our children and the future of Maryland” by funding the Kirwan education plan. “Fully funding Maryland’s schools and providing the resources necessary to deliver the best possible public education for our children is mandated by Maryland’s constitution,” they write.

CASHLESS TOLL TO START ON BAY BRIDGE: Cashless tolling will begin Thursdays and Fridays at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to address traffic delays stemming from a $27 million rehabilitation project on the westbound span, Maryland transportation officials announced Tuesday, Brooks DuBose of the Annapolis Capital reports.

OPINION: ‘MOVE OVER’ MESSAGE LOST: The editorial board of the Sun opines that the state’s “move over” message to drivers is getting lost, writing that one year ago, Maryland’s “move over” law was officially expanded so that motorists approaching a stopped service vehicle on a state road (and not just an emergency vehicle or tow truck) would have to change lanes or, if a lane change could not be made, slow to a “prudent” speed. The 12-month result? Mixed, at best, and somewhat discouraging.

COPPIN AUDIT FINDS TUITION, FINANCIAL AID PROBLEMS: A state audit found flaws in Coppin State University’s systems for figuring out how much to charge students for tuition and how much financial aid to award them, Morgan Eichensehr of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. The new audit, from the state Department of Legislative Services, was released Monday. It highlighted several problems with Coppin State’s internal systems, including some that could be costing the Baltimore institution thousands of dollars.

MANCHESTER TO SEEK OPIOID DAMAGES: Manchester has joined thousands of other local governments nationwide in taking up legal representation to seek damages from drug distributors and manufacturers in response to the opioid crisis, Catalina Righter of the Carroll County Times reports.

WA CO ED BOARD WON’T PROPOSE BILLS IN NEXT SESSION: Washington County Board of Education will not be asking for any bills to be put forward at the next General Assembly session. But there will still be plenty to watch, according to district officials, Alexis Fitzpatrick reports for the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

LAFFERTY ON NEW SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER ROLE: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. in mid-August announced that then-Del. Stephen Lafferty, a Democrat from Towson, would join his administration as the county’s first-ever chief sustainability officer. Cody Boteler of the Sun talks with Lafferty about what his job will entail.

WILL T.J. SMITH RUN FOR MAYOR? Baltimore County press secretary T.J. Smith is stepping down from his role Friday to “explore other opportunities,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s office announced Tuesday. Wilborn Nobles of the Sun writes that Smith’s latest move raises questions about a potential run for the Democratic mayoral nomination in the city. Smith has acknowledged considering seeking the top post in Baltimore for some time.

HOWARD SCHOOLS TO HOLD MORE HEARINGS: The Howard County Board of Education announced additional public hearings on the ongoing redistricting process and new work session dates at its general meeting Tuesday afternoon, Jess Nocera of the Howard County Times reports.

PUGH SELLS ONE HOME: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has sold one of her two Ashburton homes for $75,000, property records show, Phil Davis of the Sun reports. Pugh, who resigned in May amid allegations of financial self-dealing regarding children’s books sold to the University of Maryland Medical System, sold her Dennlyn Road home to Boaz Alternative Energy and Technologies LLC on July 31, records show.

NEW I-70 RAMP IN FREDERICK OPENS: After decades as a work in progress, drivers on the east side of Frederick County now have a new way to access Interstate 70, Ryan Marshall of the Frederick News-Post reports. A crowd of county officials and others gathered Tuesday morning near the new exit 59 on westbound I-70 to open the ramp, which they hope will help ease traffic congestion on Md. 144.