State Roundup, October 15, 2019

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HOGAN HOSTS FUND-RAISER TO FIGHT KIRWAN: With decisions expected soon from the commission proposing big increases to Maryland education funding, Gov. Larry Hogan is ramping up his fight against the plans with a high-dollar fundraiser for his political lobbying organization at Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland. An advertisement for the Nov. 7 event, called the “Governor’s Gala,” features a large photo of Hogan and encourages guests to purchase VIP tables for $25,000 each, Luke Broadwater reports for the Sun. The Change Maryland groups are trying to raise $2 million to advance Hogan’s political agenda, which includes his attempt to rebrand the so-called Kirwan commission, which has recommended large funding increases to upgrade the state’s public schools, as the “Kirwan Tax Hike Commission.”

KIRWAN WORK GROUP TO VOTE TODAY: Bryan Sears of the Daily Record writes that supporters and opponents of a proposed reform of public school education will finally get numbers they can crow about or shoot at. Members of the state’s Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Work Group are expected today to vote on recommendations on how the state and local governments will split nearly $4 billion in costs over at least a decade. Tuesday’s meeting represents just another step to a final set of recommendations and legislation that can go before the Maryland General Assembly.

SPEAKER JONES ON CIVIL WAR PLAQUE: Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports that House Speaker Adrienne Jones says her objections to the Civil War commemorative plaque at the State House was not the Confederate flag but the sympathies expressed by the words on it. In a May letter to the State House Trust board, Jones said that message “does not seek to correctly document history but instead sympathizes with Confederate motivations and memorializes Confederate soldiers. History clearly tells us that there was a right and a wrong side of the Civil War.”

HOGAN PUSHES BACK OVER BAY BRIDGE CRITICISM: Hogan administration officials are pushing back on complaints that they have not been in communication with top officials in Queen Anne’s County regarding the resurfacing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, offering a timeline of their interactions with local leaders in recent months. On Sunday Hogan’s press office provided a lengthy list of meetings, emails and other communications that Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Director Jim Ports and his team have had with Queen Anne’s County leaders, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

WHAT’s HAPPENED, WHAT’s BEEN SAID: Katherine Shaver of the Post writes that a maintenance project scheduled to keep part of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge closed for most of the next two years has created what many motorists and residents say is unprecedented traffic misery on both sides of the bay. Eastbound backups one recent Friday stretched for 14 miles, snarling traffic across a large swath of Anne Arundel County for 10 hours. In Queen Anne’s County, where the bridge touches down on the Eastern Shore, traffic headed west on a recent Sunday evening stacked up for almost nine miles. The area now sees Monday morning backups that motorists say have added up to 45 minutes to already lengthy commutes.

  • Queen Anne’s County officials want the state to stop using a new two-way traffic pattern on the Bay Bridge, saying that while it might ease construction-related congestion in Anne Arundel County it’s making it worse on their side of the Bay, Naomi Harris of the Annapolis Capital reports. In a letter sent to Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn on Friday, members of the County Commissioners said school buses are now being affected by traffic backed up by two-way traffic on the westbound span during the week.

INUNDATED WITH OPIOIDS, CARROLL SEEKS REDRESS: John Kelvey of the Carroll County Times reports that when attorneys for Carroll County refiled its case against opioid drug makers, they did so with the knowledge that opioid medications were, for a time, dispensed in the county at a higher rate than the state — and even the nation at some points. Carroll County, like other Maryland jurisdictions and cities and counties across the nation, is suing the makers of opioid medications for damages resulting from the opioid addiction epidemic.

ON OPPOSITE POLES, STILL SEEKING CIVIL DISCOURSE: Jim Carpenter and Natalie Abbas are on different sides of the political aisle —Carpenter, a Democrat from Frederick, and Abbas, a Republican from Myersville. But that hasn’t stopped the two Frederick County residents from talking politics in a respectful way. And now, they aim to spread civil discourse through a national nonprofit tasked with teaching Democrats and Republicans how to discuss the issues without inflaming the rhetoric, writes Steve Bohnel for the Frederick News Post.

OPINION: PLAN FUTURE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE: The editorial board for the Sun opines that the U.S. Naval Institute recently published what might be described as an extremely well-timed article speculating that the U.S. Naval Academy may eventually have to relocate because of rising sea levels. Given the weekend’s flooding, including closing the nearby Spa Creek Bridge into Eastport, the premise hardly seems speculative at all. More Maryland communities need to think about the choices they face.

MO CO FILES SUIT AGAINST JUUL: Heather Cobun of the Daily Record reports that Montgomery County filed a potential class-action suit Friday alleging an e-cigarette manufacturer created an epidemic of underage nicotine addiction by portraying its product and vaping as “a teen pop culture icon and status symbol.”

BRAVEBOY JUMPS IN WITH BOTH FEET: Prince George’s County’s new prosecutor, Aisha Braveboy (D), has jumped into the State’s Attorney’s office with both feet, seizing the reins of the county’s criminal justice agenda by focusing on reform and engaging in intensive community outreach. Her efforts serve a second purpose as well — building the Braveboy brand, writes Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.