State Roundup, October 29, 2019

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HOW FERGUSON’s STAR ROSE: Luke Broadwater of the Sun recounts how 36-year-old Sen. Bill Ferguson became the person who would be the next Senate president. Less than a month ago, a behind-the-scenes race to become the next president of the Maryland Senate was deadlocked. Four prominent senators who had quietly declared their candidacies were unable to gain a consensus on who should succeed the powerful Mike Miller, a state political legend who had led the Senate for more than three decades but was suffering from cancer and considering stepping aside. That’s when Sen. Delores Kelley intervened.

SO MANY CHANGES IN MD POLITICS: Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters reports that the winds of change in the Maryland State House have suddenly begun to blow in Baltimore’s direction. The new Senate president is all but certain to be Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). And January will also find Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) presiding over the House of Delegates for the first time in her new role as speaker.

OPINION: MILLER STILL MANAGES: In a column for his Political Maryland blog, Barry Rascovar writes, “Leave it to Maryland’s longstanding Senate President, Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.,  to mastermind a seamless transition of power without a whimper of dissent. After 33 years Miller Time may be ebbing but Mike Miller’s management skills are as sharp as ever.”

OPINION: CHANGES IN POLITICAL LANDSCAPE: Maryland Matters columnist Frank DeFilippo writes of those politicians and politically connected private citizens that have died in the last few years, writing that “the past couple of years have been rough on Maryland’s political community. Death is breaking up that old gang of ours – Busch, Mitchell, Hughes, Paterakis, Kamenetz, Hayden – to name a few in the lengthening shadow of departures.”

TEMPERS FLARE OVER SCHOOL REFORMS: Of all the measures the General Assembly took this year to bolster the work of the so-called Kirwan Commission, one formed a work group to study how two key state education agencies would implement the commission’s eventual recommendations, write Josh Kurtz and Danielle Gaines for Maryland Matters. Created by statute, the Workgroup to Study the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Higher Education Commission held its first meeting in Annapolis Monday afternoon. It didn’t go so well.

HOGAN SETS SPECIAL PRIMARY, ELECTION TO FILL CUMMINGS’ SEAT: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has scheduled a special election in April to select a successor to U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the longtime lawmaker from Baltimore who died earlier this month, Erin Cox of the Post reports.

GUILTY PLEA IN CAPITAL GAZETTE MURDERS: During a court hearing on Monday, Anne Arundel State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess repeated the names of those in the Capital Gazette killed on June 28, 2018 — Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters. The accused, Jarrod Ramos, pleaded guilty to the murders. Jury selection still will be held Wednesday for the second phase of the trial, to determine whether he will be held criminally responsible, Meredith Cohn, Talia Richman and Olivia Sanchez of the Sun report.

2 COUNTIES QUARANTINED FOR INVASIVE SPECIES: The spotted lanternfly’s U.S. invasion has crossed the border from Pennsylvania into Maryland. The Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine Monday in an effort to contain the invasive species in Cecil and Harford counties after it was spotted in Cecil’s northeastern corner and along Harford’s northern border. Spotted lanternflies feed on more than 70 types of plants and crops, including grapes, hops, apples and peaches as well as oak and pine trees, Lillian Reed of the Sun reports.

MO CO LEGISLATORS PUSH FOR TRANSITWAY: Montgomery County legislators at the local, state and federal level assembled on Monday to issue an impassioned plea: Bring back the Corridor Cities Transitway as a state transportation priority. It’s the latest in an ongoing effort to save the high-speed bus line, which appeared to suffer a serious setback in September when the Maryland Department of Transportation dropped it from a draft list of long-term priorities, Kate Masters of Bethesda Beat reports.

B’MORE PROPOSING PLASTIC BAG BAN: A Baltimore City Council committee advanced a proposal Monday to ban retailers from giving shoppers plastic bags in most cases and requiring them to charge a nickel for any other type of bag, including paper, Scott Dance of the Sun is reporting.

T.J. SMITH RUNNING FOR MAYOR: Former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith is running for mayor, arguing his local roots, career as a police officer and years of communicating local government policy to the public have prepared him to take the helm of Maryland’s largest city. Kevin Rector of the Sun reports.

RAY JENKINS, EDITORIAL EDITOR, DIES AT 89: Ray Jenkins, a former Evening Sun editorial page editor and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was a press aide to President Jimmy Carter, died Thursday from heart failure at his Guilford home. He was 89, Fred Rasmussen of the Sun reports.

ROGER HAYDEN, FORMER BA CO EXEC, DIES: Roger B. Hayden, former Baltimore County executive and longtime member of the county school board, on which he served as president for six years, died Thursday from acute myeloid leukemia at Stella Maris Hospice. The Baldwin resident was 74, Fred Rasmussen of the Sun reports.

JEFF RAYMOND, FORMER PPC REPORTER, DIES AT 56: Jeffrey C. Raymond, director of communications and community affairs for a city agency that made frequent, sometimes complex and often unpopular news, died suddenly on Sunday, according to Baltimore Brew. On a personal note, Jeff was hired by Maryland Reporter editor Len Lazarick, then managing editor at Patuxent Publishing, and worked for State Roundup editor Cynthia Prairie on the Baltimore County news desk at Patuxent Publishing Co., now part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group, and mere shadows of their former coverage.