State Roundup, December 13, 2019

FERGUSON ANNOUNCES YOUNGER LEADERSHIP TEAM: More liberal and younger lawmakers will be positioned to usher legislation through the Maryland Senate next year under a leadership structure announced Thursday by Sen. Bill Ferguson, the chamber’s presumed next president, reports Erin Cox for the Post.Leadership assignments are a key tool for spreading power and influence in the Senate, which has a veto-proof Democratic majority and in which all the leadership positions are held by Democrats.

  • Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, announced a handful of changes in setting his leadership team for his first year presiding over the chamber, report Pamela Wood and Luke Broadwater for the Sun. Guy Guzzone of Howard County will be the new chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
  • Overall, the two suburban Washington jurisdictions will hold two of the four standing committee chairs and all four of the vice chair positions, reports Bryan Sears for The Daily Record.
  • State Sen. Will Smith, born and raised in Silver Spring, will lead the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, one of only four standing committees in the Senate, reports Suzanne Pollak for the Montgomery County Sentinel.
  • Senate Finance is the only committee that returns in 2020 with the same leadership duo it had in 2019 — Sen. Delores Kelley as chairwoman and Sen. Brian Feldman as vice chairman, reports Bruce DePuyt for Maryland Matters.

MOSBY ON HOGAN FUNDING PROPOSAL: Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Thursday that Gov. Larry Hogan’s idea to increase funding for more city-focused prosecutors in the office of the Maryland attorney general was “problematic,” reports Kevin Rector and Pamela Wood for the Sun. Given the potential for overlap between the crime-fighting efforts of city and state lawyers, Mosby said it should be removed from the governor’s proposed budget.

PURPLE LINE HOUSING: The Purple Line Corridor Coalition, a group of public and private organizations in Maryland, released a 12-point “Housing Action Plan” on Thursday for how to ensure that 17,000 housing units along the 16-mile rail line remain affordable to households earning less than $70,000 annually, reports Rebecca Tan in the Post.

  • The two counties agreed in principle two years ago to protect affordable housing along the Purple Line corridor, but didn’t outline many details about how to achieve that broad goal, reports Alex Komer for the Washington Business Journal. This newly released plan represents an effort to put a bit more meat on the bones of that agreement, laying out dozens of steps officials can take between now and the end of 2022.

FROSH’S TRUMP LAWSUIT DEBATED: A divided federal appeals court spent more than three hours Thursday sparring over whether President Donald Trump is illegally profiting  from the presidency through his luxury Washington hotel, reports the AP.

A novel case filed in 2017 by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine is being considered for appeals by the Richmond-based 4thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, writes Garham Moomaw for Maryland Matters. The case contends that Trump’s decision not to sever ties with his pre-White House empire has created an unfair business environment, particularly for other hospitality interests in the Washington region that compete with the Trump hotel.

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN PRISON: A recent report by the Justice Policy Institute finds that Maryland imprisons African Americans at twice the national rate, reports Sheilah Kast and Maureen Harvie for WYPR. More than 7 out of 10 prisoners in Maryland are African American, while the national average is 3 in 10.

HOWARD REDISTRICTING CHALLENGED: A Howard County Public School System parent filed an injunction in court Wednesday against the Board of Education’s final redistricting decision based on the argument the board violated the Maryland Open Meetings Act, reports Jess Nocera for Baltimore Sun Media.

DEP STATE PROSECUTOR TAPPED FOR BALT CO ETHICS: Kelly Beckham Madiganhas been appointed the first executive director for the newly created Baltimore County Office of Ethics and Accountability, reports Wilborn P. Nobles III for the Sun. Madigan is currently the deputy state prosecutor for the Maryland Office of the State Prosecutor.

  • On Thursday, Madigan said she would be on the job in early January and would begin building the office from scratch, reports Heather Cobun for The Daily Record. Early initiatives will include setting up a website and a confidential reporting process.

RETURNING CAMPAIGN MONEY BECAUSE OF HEALTHY HOLLY SCANDAL: Top Baltimore politicians and people who want to be mayor say they’re returning campaign money given to them by Grant Capital Management, which is connected with the Healthy Holly scandal, reports Bryna Zumer for WBFF Fox 45.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA RIGHTS: The Maryland General Assembly will continue to consider ways to prevent discrimination in employment, workers’ compensation, housing and handgun permit applications for patients who use medical marijuana, a drug still regarded as illegal by the federal government, reports Steve Lash for The Daily Record.

HEMP ASSOCIATION PROPOSED: Some Maryland farmers are looking to form a new trade association and present a unified front as lawmakers build rules around a new state industry — hemp, reports Morgan Eichensehr for the Baltimore Business Journal.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRIORITIES: The General Assembly will have a number of priorities for its upcoming three-month session—likely none bigger than determining how to fund recommendations from a special commission that had been studying over the past few years how to transform Maryland’s public education system, writes Elliott Davis for the Capital News Service.

ANOTHER POOR YEAR FOR MD. ROCKFISH: Striped bass, whose population has been in decline for a decade and a half, suffered from another poor year of reproduction in Maryland, though the news was better in Virginia. The Bay Journal’s Karl Blankenship writes in Maryland’s annual young-of-year index was just 3.4, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, well below the long-term average of 11.6. It was the ninth time in the last 14 years that the state’s index reflected below-average reproduction in the state.

PREZ CANDIDATE VISITS BALTIMORE: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg held a Baltimore fundraiser Thursday in which he discussed issues facing the city and was presented with a Lamar Jackson jersey, reports Jeff Barker for the Sun.

CUMMINGS HEALTH BILL PASSED HOUSE: The U.S. House passed a landmark health care measure Thursday that proponents say would dramatically reduce the rising cost of prescription drugs and significantly expand access to health care benefits and services, reports Allison Stevens for Maryland Matters. The sweeping legislation was named for the late Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings and passed largely along party lines

LYFT TO HELP FOOD DESERTS: Ride-hailing service Lyft will be giving some residents in Prince George’s County a free ride to get groceries, reports Jack Pointing for WTOP. A new program aims to help those living in “food deserts” — a term for areas that lack a full-service grocery store.

REPORT: SPEED CAMERA MONEY SPENT ON MANY ITEMS: Driver and transportation advocacy group AAA analyzed how local governments in Maryland spend money collected from speed camera fines and found that it goes to support a range of items and services not always tied to safety, reports Dana Hedgpeth in the Post.

CAMERA USE DEBATED TO CATCH DISTRACTED DRIVERS: The Montgomery County Council is looking at a new camera technology that capture photos of drivers texting as a means to reduce distracted driving; however, some lawmakers are hesitant to move forward on it over privacy concerns, reports Sophie Kaplan with a look at the issue in the Washington Times.

VAPING TASK FORCE FORMS: State Comptroller Peter Franchot’s e-facts Task Force on Electronic Smoking Devices held its first meeting last week, reports Renée Shreve for the Garrett County Republican.

WIND FARM GETS ALLEGANY NOD: The Allegany County Board of Commissioners has sent a letter of support to the Maryland Public Service Commission for the construction of the Dan’s Mountain Wind Farm, reports Greg Larry in the Cumberland Times-News.

MACo BOARD: Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer was one of multiple county government officials sworn into the Board of Directors for the Maryland Association of Counties last week, reports Steve Bohnel in The Frederick News-Post. Her appointment ensures the county “still has a voice” regarding state issues, which includes the Kirwan Commission and education funding, along with school construction.

About The Author

Meg Tully

Contributing Editor Meg Tully has been covering Maryland politics for more than five years. She has worked for The Frederick News-Post, where she reported during the General Assembly session in Annapolis. She has also worked for The (Hanover) Evening Sun and interned at Baltimore Magazine. Meg has won awards from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association for her state and county writing, and a Keystone Press Award for feature writing from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you have additional questions or comments contact Meg at:

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