State Roundup, October 23, 2019

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LOCAL CELEBRATION OF CUMMINGS’ LIFE: Today begins the first of three memorial services for Congressman Elijah Cummings, WBFF is reporting. This will begin with a day-long celebration of his life beginning with a public viewing this morning and ending with a special tribute in the evening at Morgan State University.

CUMMINGS TO LIE IN STATE, A RARE HONOR: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings will lie in state in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, joining a distinguished list of people to receive the honor, Phil Davis of the Sun reports. Cummings will join a rare group to “lie in state,” meaning his coffin will be displayed inside a state building along with a military guard.

CUMMINGS’ LAST OFFICIALS ACTS: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings “worked until his last breath,” says his widow, Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat who was battling cancer, disappeared from public view in mid-September. According to Cummings’ aides and his committee staff, among the five items that Cummings worked on during his last weeks were sign a letter Sept. 27 accompanying a subpoena seeking documents from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Jeff Barker of the Sun reports.

WOMEN WHO FILLED HUSBANDS’ CONGRESSIONAL SEATS: As speculation continues over who will fill U.S. Rep. Cummings’ term, Robin Bravender of Maryland Matters writes about Beverly Byron – and other wives of late congressmen – who took over their husband’s seats and many went on to successful careers in Congress. Of course this sets up the idea that Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a formidable political figure in her own right, will take her late husband’s seat.

D’ALESANDRO FUNERAL SERVICES TODAY: The funeral of Thomas D’Alesandro III, a former Baltimore mayor and eldest brother of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will take place Wednesday at St. Ignatius Church, according to his son, Thomas D’Alesandro IV, Colin Campbell of the Sun reports.

OPINION: COURAGEOUS D’ALESANDRO: With funeral services for “Young Tommy” D’Alesandro set for today. Sun columnist Dan Rodricks recalls his heroic side: Young Tommy appointed black people to prominent government positions, funded anti-poverty programs and new schools in neglected neighborhoods, and he pushed legislation to ban discrimination in housing and public accommodations, and he fought blockbusting.

SPECULATION HEATS UP OVER MILLER ANNOUNCEMENT: Longtime Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, who is battling cancer, is likely to announce his future political plans Thursday — potentially kicking off a succession scramble for one of the most powerful positions in the state, Luke Broadwater and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.

  • Miller has called a news conference for Thursday following the caucus meeting. The event is billed as an announcement of legislative priorities for a session that starts in January, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports. Numerous sources said it is not clear if Miller will announce that he will not seek re-election to the position he has held for more than three decades. He could also announce his departure from the legislature or simply discuss the upcoming session, as announced.
  • Josh Kurtz of Maryland Matters reports that Sen. Paul Pinsky said, “there’s been a sub rosa campaign going on – that’s not a shock to anybody.” Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) is one of a handful of Democrats who might seek to replace Miller. The list of possible successors is evolving – and will continue to do so in the days ahead. “The landscape is changing every hour,” said one senator Monday evening – who, like many lawmakers contacted for this story requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.

RX POT PANEL PLANS 2 ROBES INTO LICENSING: Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission is planning two independent investigations into the latest process for awarding licenses, a procedure that’s been put on hold after complaints and litigation, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports. “The priority is to get it right,” William Tilburg, the commission’s acting executive director, told prospective cannabis business owners who gathered in Annapolis on Tuesday afternoon.

OPINION: MISSTEP BY BLACK CAUCUS: The editorial board for the Sun opines on the fact that Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus wanted its members of mixed backgrounds to make a choice: They could stay a part of the 55-member caucus, which represents African American state legislators, but only if they dropped affiliations with other “ethnic” caucuses. In other words, those members who also identified as Latino or Asian, essentially, would have to pick which part of their existence was more important to them. That’s a choice nobody should have to make, which we’re glad to see the black caucus came to realize amid backlash to their proposed rule change.

BEREANO SEEKS TO GET LAW LICENSE BACK: Bruce C. Bereano, a fixture in the State House for more than 40 years, has filed a petition with the Maryland Court of Appeals for reinstatement to the bar. Danielle Gaines of Maryland Matters reports that Bereano’s petition was filed last month, along with dozens of pages of supporting documents, including letters from current and retired judges, prosecutors, local officials, former state delegates and his former boss, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (though Hoyer’s letter was written in 2016 when he was still party whip).

GUNS SEIZED AT BWI MAY BREAK RECORD: Federal officials say they’re close to breaking a record for the number of guns they’ve seized this year at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the AP is reporting.

U.S., MD LAWMAKERS WANT MORE OPEN METRO AGENCY, BOARD: Justin George of the Post reports that Metro has improved safety, and that has recently translated into an uptick in ridership after years of decline because of chronic safety and reliability problems. But members of Congress told transit agency officials Tuesday that they now must work harder at being honest and transparent with customers to continue the system’s “comeback.” Congress members said the agency needed to improve customer service and strengthen its ethics code after a scandal involving former Metro board chairman Jack Evans.

YOUNG TO RUN FOR B’MORE MAYOR: Fresh off a successful fundraising spree, Mayor Jack Young ended months of speculation Tuesday, saying he has decided to seek election to Baltimore’s top job, Luke Broadwater of the Sun is reporting. The longtime East Baltimore Democrat previously swore off a run for mayor, but had a change of heart after settling into the job of running the city.

PG COUNCIL UPHOLDS PIT BULL BAN: The Prince George’s County Council took a step Tuesday toward protecting its ban on pit bulls, by advancing an amendment to a bill overhauling the county’s animal control ordinance. The move overturned a measure that advanced out of a committee meeting this month and would have repealed the county’s 22-year-old ban, Rachel Chason of the Post reports.

TIGHTENED SECURITY AT CARROLL GOV’T BUILDING: Under a new visitor management system, those visiting the Carroll County government building will wear name badges, and their identification will be scanned and saved to the county server for 30 days from the day of collection, Mary Grace Carroll of the Carroll County Times reports.

ROCKVILLE VOTE-BY-MAIL ELECTION DRAWS OUTSIDE ATTENTION: When Rockville officials approved a new vote-by-mail system seeking higher turnout in future elections, they may not have bargained for the surge in outside influence from special interest groups and state lawmakers now playing out in the Nov. 5 election for mayor and City Council, Glynis Kazanjian of Maryland Matters reports. On Oct. 7, election officials mailed approximately 38,000 ballots to active, registered voters in Rockville, which has a population near 70,000.

GWEN IFILL ON U.S. STAMP: The U.S. Postal Service unveiled new “Forever” stamps Tuesday, including one featuring former Evening Sun reporter and PBS host Gwen Ifill, McKenna Oxenden of the Sun writes.