State Roundup, October 16, 2019

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KIRWAN WORK GROUP OKs SCHOOL SPENDING ALLOCATIONS: Local governments in Maryland, starting in 2030, would be required to pay a total of $1.2 billion more a year for public schools under a funding formula proposed Tuesday by a panel charged with ensuring that every child, regardless of address, has access to a world-class education, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post reports.

OPINION: HOGAN’s PRICEY ATTACK ON EDUCATION: The Sun editorial board blasts Gov. Hogan and his Change Maryland group for its “Governor’s Gala” fundraiser, opining that “Marylanders far and wide should mark Nov. 7 on their calendars. It’s the day … where for a mere $25,000-a-table … one can rub elbows with the well-to-do, dine on posh foods, sip premium liquor and admonish the lesser beings for daring to expect more from their public schools.” The board points out that public education is one area that Marylanders are willing to spend more on.

COMMENTARY: WHAT’s NEXT FOR SENATE DEMS: Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters writes that this much is certain: Anyone who says they know what’s going to go down when the Senate Democratic Caucus meets next Thursday is lying – or deluding themselves. At this point, it’s entirely likely that Senate President Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) himself doesn’t know. Democratic senators are being summoned to a caucus meeting in Annapolis next week, agenda unknown. It’s widely – and fairly – assumed that Topic A will be Miller’s health, and whether he intends to pass the leadership reins soon to someone else after 33 years on the job.

LAWMAKERS LOOK TO MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH MODEL: It’s not often that a lawmaker will claim to be “salivating” to get a policy briefing in the middle of the General Assembly’s nine-month interim. But for Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery) and at least some of his colleagues on Maryland’s Health Insurance Coverage Protection Commission, the chance to hear from Massachusetts officials was indeed something to look forward to. That’s because Massachusetts has long been a national leader in health policy, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports.

HOGAN ISSUES PLAN TO CUT GREENHOUSE GAS: Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration released a long-awaited plan Tuesday to dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decade, relying on solar and nuclear energy as well as increased transit ridership and electric vehicle sales, Scott Dance of the Sun reports. Officials say the plan would cut emissions of planet-warming gases 44% below 2006 levels by 2030.

COMMERCE SEEKS TO IMPROVE LOAN OVERSIGHT: The Maryland Department of Commerce is taking action to improve its oversight of tax credits and loans given to companies in light of an audit that caused some Democratic lawmakers to call for reforms of the the state’s economic incentive programs, Holden Wilen of the Baltimore Business Journal reports. Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz told members of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee during a briefing Tuesday that the department is creating a new compliance position.

5 YEARS, 2,341 CRAB VIOLATIONS: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported 2,341 crab-related violations across the state from 2013 through 2018. There were 27 types of infractions ranging from crabbing without a license to possession of undersized crabs to taking the crustaceans from someone else’s pot, the Sun’s Talia Dennis is reporting. Possession of undersized crabs was the highest reported infraction and made up nearly half of the reported violations.

FROSH SIGNS ONTO AMICUS BRIEF OVER VERMONT GUN LAW: Maryland’s top attorney is defending Vermont’s ability to ban high capacity ammunition magazines, joining a coalition of 18 attorneys general in a court document filed Tuesday, Phil Davis of the Sun reports. Attorney General Brian Frosh joined the coalition in an amicus brief filed in Vermont Supreme Court, writing that Vermont should be allowed to ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition for long guns and 15 rounds for handguns.

APPEALS COURT TO HEAR EMOLUMENTS CASE: Denise Lavoie of the AP reports that a federal appeals court will reconsider a ruling from a three-judge panel that threw out a lawsuit accusing President Donald Trump of illegally profiting off the presidency through his luxury Washington hotel. The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Tuesday to hold a hearing before the full court of 15 judges. Arguments are scheduled for Dec. 12. The decision to allow a full-court hearing brought renewed resolve from officials in Maryland and the District of Columbia, who argued that hotels in their jurisdictions suffer “competitive injury” because officials hoping to curry favor with the president are more likely to stay at his hotel.

MO CO MULLS OUTLAWING HAIR BIAS: The Post’s Rebecca Tan reports that Montgomery County, a majority-minority suburb, is considering first-in-the-region legislation to outlaw discrimination against certain types of natural hairstyles, including “braids, locks, Afros, curls and twists.” It would also allow those who face discrimination to seek a civil penalty of up to $5,000.

DRAWBACKS, BENEFITS OF ROCKVILLE VOTE-BY-MAIL: Rockville’s first vote-by-mail election will be significantly more expensive than previous races. But city officials and candidates say the cost will be worth it if the system increases voter participation, which they hope as they pioneer the system in Maryland, Kate Masters reports in Bethesda Beat.

B’MORE TO BUY $20M IN CYBER INSURANCE: As costs from this spring’s ransomware attack on Baltimore continue to come due, officials are set to buy $20 million in cyber liability insurance to cover any additional disruptions to city networks over the next year, Kevin Rector of the Sun writes.

RACISM REARS UP IN HO CO SCHOOL DEBATE: The debate over a controversial schools redistricting plan in Howard County has taken an ugly turn for some observers. The last scheduled public hearing on the matter was Tuesday night at the county’s public schools building In Ellicott City. School officials want to move more than 7,000 students to different schools to help ease overcrowding. But some parents believe the fight against the plan has become racist in some cases, Keith Daniels reports for WBFF-TV.

HOWARD SENATORS MONITOR REDISTRICTING DEBATE: State Sens. Katie Fry Hester, Clarence Lam and Guy Guzzone, all Democrats representing Howard County, said they have “an ongoing interest” in the Howard County Public School System’s redistricting process as elected officials, even though they have no role in approving a plan, Jess Nocera of the Howard County Times reports.