State Roundup, January 22, 2020

HOGAN SEEKS MORE H-2B VISAS: Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday urged federal officials to allow more H-2B visas for foreign workers to help the state’s $355 million seafood industry and seasonal employers. Hogan, a Republican, made the request in a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. Hogan also called for a long-term solution, Brian Witte of the AP reports.

TUITION EXEMPTIONS FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: House and Senate sponsors of vetoed legislation that would provide tuition exemptions for certain undocumented immigrants in Maryland say the bill seeks to clarify existing law rather than expand upon it, Bryan Renbaum of MarylandReporter writes. The legislation is scheduled for override votes this month.

NEW REDSKINS STADIUM IN STATE CONTINGENT ON SPORTS BETTING? Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox of the Post report that Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder urged Maryland legislative leaders on Tuesday to allow gambling at a future Redskins stadium in the state, according to three lawmakers who attended the meetings. People who attended one meeting said Snyder conditioned keeping the team in Maryland on the ability to offer sports betting at a new stadium. Two people said they understood Snyder to be suggesting he would rebuild at the FedEx location.

STATE PRISONS SEVERELY UNDERSTAFFED: Maryland’s prisons are facing what union officials and state lawmakers are calling a “staffing crisis” — a shortage of about 1,000 officers, about 20% of positions. And the vacancies are on top of the 929 correctional officer positions Gov. Hogan’s administration has eliminated as the prison population has become smaller, according to legislative analysts, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

OPINION: UNDERSTAFFING IS DANGEROUS: The editorial board for the Sun opines that the corrections officer shortage has been a problem since calendar year 2015, when Gov. Hogan took office. … In fact, the job vacancy rate across state government has doubled since 2014, which isn’t all that surprising under a Republican administration seeking to shrink government. But such cost savings in the corrections world could lead to disaster for overworked officers and understaffed facilities.

‘BAN THE BOX’ BILL OVERRIDE OFF SCHEDULE: It’s unknown when the House of Delegates may act to override Gov. Hogan’s veto of the so-called “ban the box” bill after delaying a vote slated for Tuesday, Adam Bednar of the Daily Record reports. The House scheduled the override vote late last week. The bill’s lead sponsor, Del. Nick Mosby, D-Baltimore City, emailed a single-sentence advisory late Monday night that the vote was postponed. The bill is intended to limit when businesses can start the criminal-screening process.

RISK ASSESSMENT BILL CRITICIZED: A bill to require triennial evaluations of the questionnaires many judges use to assess whether defendants should be released before trial drew criticism Tuesday from lawmakers, who expressed concern about the cost of the consultant-driven questions and asked whether the assessments are a better means than bail for ensuring defendants show up for trial, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.

5G FIRMS GET NO BOOST FROM LEGISLATURE: Maryland’s legislature is unlikely to take steps that would make it easier for telecommunications firms to erect 5G towers around the state — despite the industry’s complaints that counties and municipalities are slowing the arrival of the next generation of wireless technology, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.

BILL OFFERS TAX CREDIT TO COMMUTERS: Maryland commuters could get a break under a bill that would offer a tax credit to people who drive at least 40 miles round trip to work each day. The bill by Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles) would provide a credit against drivers’ state income tax to help reimburse them for commuting costs, Ryan Marshall reports for the Frederick News Post.

$7.6M IN BUDGET FOR CARROLL PROJECTS: Gov. Hogan’s proposed $47.9 billion state budget devotes millions in funding for Carroll County projects — and local politicians are hopeful those dollars will remain intact as the General Assembly reshapes the budget, Mary Grace Keller of the Carroll County Times reports. In the proposed budget submitted Jan. 15, Hogan designated $7.6 million for projects in Carroll County for fiscal year 2021. The General Assembly will decide in the coming months what parts of the proposal to keep before voting on final passage.

LISANTI SLUR FALLOUT: Almost 11 months after Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, D-Harford, was censured by her House colleagues for uttering a racial epithet, the incident continues to reverberate on her home turf. Earlier this month, the Harford County Democratic Central Committee voted to remove party Chairwoman Denise Perry from office at a special meeting after months of conflict between members — some of it related to the Lisanti incident, Meghan Thompson writes for Maryland Matters.

CHILDHOOD HUNGER: In this multi-part series on childhood hunger in America, Elliot Jaspin reports for Maryland Matters that Anne Arundel County is one of the richest counties in the richest state in the nation. Yet over the past decade the number of children eligible for a free school lunch in that county has jumped by 81%. This series is an attempt to discover what has gone so wrong.

THE 7th CONGRESSIONAL HOPEFULS: JAY JALISI: Jay Jalisi has had a bumpy road in his political career: a censure in the House of Delegates for being abusive to staff, a lawsuit by an ex-employee, a committee reassignment after his daughter secured a restraining order against him. The Democrat from northwestern Baltimore County hopes to put those troubles behind him as he campaigns to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.

FRANCHOT COFFERS HIT $1.6M: The 2020 election is still months off, but some of the biggest fundraisers in Maryland are eyeing 2022. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has announced plans to run for governor two years from now, posted a whopping $1,572,296 in campaign cash when he filed his latest state finance report, Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports.

CARDIN: IMPEACHMENT TRIAL WORSE THAN ROOT CANAL: Sen. Ben Cardin parked his Buick sedan in the Hart Senate Office Building garage, tucked a notebook stuffed with legal briefs and handwritten notes under one arm, and headed into a day he likened to a root canal. But worse, writes Jeff Barker for the Sun. “You never want to go through an impeachment trial,” the third-term Democrat said. “I’ve had a root canal and I must tell you that process was not that unpleasant. This is unpleasant.”

BA CO COUNCIL OKs GUN SHOP SECURITY BILL: The Baltimore County Council approved legislation Tuesday night to require more security at gun shops and gun shows. The council’s four Democrats and two of the three Republicans voted for the bill after they spent over an hour discussing nearly a dozen amendments, Wilborn Nobles reports in the Sun.

B’MORE POLICE PROBE VIGNARAJAH STOP: Baltimore police said Tuesday they are investigating whether officers violated departmental policy last fall during a traffic stop of mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah, the Sun’s Luke Broadwater reports. The investigation will include whether a sergeant acted appropriately in turning off a body-worn camera during the stop, Baltimore police spokesman Matt Jablow said.

STATE PR PRO JACQUI LAMPELL, 70: Jacqueline “Jacqui” Lampell, who served Baltimore City government and Maryland agencies during a long career in public and media relations, died Monday at St. Agnes Hospital. She was 70 and lived in Catonsville, Jacques Kelly reports for the Sun.

About The Author

Cynthia Prairie

Contributing Editor Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor since 1979, when she began working at The Raleigh Times. Since then, she has worked for The Baltimore News American, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Prince George’s Journal and Baltimore County newspapers in the Patuxent Publishing chain, including overseeing The Jeffersonian when it was a two-day a week business publication. Cynthia has won numerous state awards, including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Besides compiling and editing the daily State Roundup, she runs her own online newspaper, The Chester Telegraph. If you have additional questions or comments contact Cynthia at:

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