State Roundup, October 9, 2019

Print More

STATE RELEASES CENSUS GRANT FUNDS: Amid pressure from Maryland lawmakers, state officials are releasing $900,000 in grant funds aimed at ensuring every resident is counted in the 2020 census. Lillian Reed of the Sun reports. Maryland Department of Planning Secretary Rob McCord announced Tuesday that the earmarked money would be split into thirds, following input from the newly formed Complete Count Committee.

PREAKNESS PLAN CONVERTS SKEPTICS: Julia Oughton walked into Laurel Park’s Ruffian Room on Tuesday a skeptic. Nathan Ruiz of the Sun reports that over the three decades Oughton had spent in the Mid-Atlantic since a move from her native England, she had heard of several proposals like the one that came to light this weekend that would keep the Preakness in Baltimore. But at the end of the two-hour forum to discuss the plan for redevelopment at Pimlico and Laurel Park, the former trainer and current program developer for the Retired Racehorse Project found herself buying into the plan.

  • Alan Rifkin, the lawyer who represents the Stronach Group, said the group had three non-negotiable pillars during its discussions: The Preakness had to remain in Baltimore. Daily racing had to be sustainable — meaning Stronach would only have to support one venue and not two. And the plan could not involve general fund revenue, which would be difficult, if not impossible, for the industry to win from the state legislature, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

UNION-REBEL TRIBUTE PLAQUE TO BE AMENDED: Over the objections of Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones, the State House Trust has decided to amend, but not discard, a plaque that pays tribute to both Union and Confederate soldiers who served and died in the Civil War, reports Luke Broadwater for the Sun. In one of her first actions after becoming speaker in May, Jones proposed removing the plaque at the State House because, she said, its authors sought to avoid what is history: “that there was a right side and a wrong side in the Civil War.”

LAWMAKERS SEEK MORE TRANSPARENCY IN POLICE COMPLAINTS: Following setbacks in the 2019 legislative session, Maryland lawmakers went back to work this week to recraft legislation to provide greater transparency in the investigative process when complaints are made against law enforcement officers, Glynis Kazanjian reports in Maryland Matters. Under current state law, files related to officer-involved investigations are considered personnel records and are shielded from Public Information Act requests – even for the families of victims.

LAWMAKERS SEEK TO EASE KIRWAN FINANCIAL IMPACT: Two top state legislators representing Baltimore are calling on an education work group to soften the financial impact of a proposed major expansion of education funding, saying some of the costs could be unbearable to jurisdictions in most need of help, Bryan Sears reports in the Daily Record.

DATA LACKING ON BENEFITS OF OPPORTUNITY ZONES: Backers of opportunity zones continue touting the initiative’s potential to infuse minority-owned businesses with capital and create new prosperity, but there’s little data available to measure early results, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports. Henry Childs II, national director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, during a news conference at City Hall on Monday hailed opportunity zones as a boon to the minority businesses. He framed the initiative as promoting investment without displacing residents and businesses.

CARROLL REFILES OPIOID SUIT: Attorneys for Carroll County say they have refiled a lawsuit against opioid drug manufacturers in Carroll County Circuit Court as of Tuesday. Jon Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports that the case had been temporarily withdrawn after it was moved to federal court at the request of the defendants. Carroll’s legal team decided to regroup and refile Tuesday to try and prevent the case from reaching the federal level.

STATE ELECTIONS BOARD TO CONSIDER MO CO EARLY VOTING SITE: There is hope still for an additional early voting site in Montgomery County after an emergency meeting of the State Board of Elections on Tuesday, reports Danielle Gaines in Maryland Matters. A supermajority of the state board voted to direct the county to bring additional information about adding a 12th early voting site to the state board’s next meeting on Oct. 31. The potential 12th site – in White Oak, a lower-income, high-minority corner of the county that experienced long wait times at the polls in 2018 – had been voted down along partisan lines by the Montgomery County Board of Elections last month.

COUPLES SUE OVER DEPORTATION ‘RUSE:’ Regina Garcia Cano of the AP reports that Alyse and Elmer Sanchez were thrilled when they survived their “green card” interview, a crucial step in obtaining lawful status in the United States. The officer had agreed that their marriage is legitimate. Moments later, Elmer was in shackles, detained pending deportation to his native Honduras, leaving her alone with their two little boys. The Sanchezes have joined five other couples in a class action accusing federal agents of luring families to marriage interviews in Baltimore, only to detain the immigrant spouse for deportation.

BA CO HIRES ATTORNEYS TO SUE MONSANTO: John Lee of WYPR-FM reports that the Baltimore County Council Monday night also agreed to hire three law firms to file suit against Monsanto Corp. on behalf of the county. According to county officials, there is PCB contamination in many of the county’s rivers and streams, including Gwynns Falls, Jones Falls, Lake Roland, Middle River, Back River, Bird River, Gunpowder River, Bear Creek and Seneca Creek.